The coffee journey
Legend has it that a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd discovered coffee when his goats became unusually energetic after eating what looked like red cherries. He took the fruit to a holy man, who then made the world’s first coffee. And the rest is history.
Starting in Ethiopia and going on to the Middle East, the popularity of coffee was spread throughout Asia and Europe by travelers and merchants. Coffee now grows in areas that have the right combination of altitude, soil and weather. Here are some of the world’s finest coffees:
As the original home of coffee, it’s no surprise that Ethiopia produces some of the world’s finest. What makes Kaffa special is that it’s harvested from trees growing in the wild – just as it was discovered.
Mocha is one of the first cultivated coffees and is named after the Yemeni port of Mocha, from where it was exported around the world. It’s grown in the mountains near the Red Sea using traditional methods.
JAMAICA BLUE MOUNTAIN
As its name suggests, this coffee is grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. High altitude, rich, volcanic soil, low rainfall and dense cloud cover give this coffee a mild flavour and lack of bitterness.
Kona can only be cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Sunny mornings, overcast afternoons and mild nights create the perfect growing conditions.
Coffee beans are actually the seeds of cherries from a coffee plant. The cherries grow along the stem and take about nine months to mature into bright red coffee cherries. Once ripe and ready, they are hand-picked by coffee farmers, who then extract the beans by either soaking them in water for a few days, or sun drying for a few weeks.
ARABICA COFFEE BEANS
Arabica is the first coffee to ever be cultivated. It accounts for more than 60% of the world’s coffee production and is also the most popular. It has a soft, sweet taste with ideal acidity.
ROBUSTA COFFEE BEANS
Robusta is more robust in many ways. It has more caffeine and antioxidants, and resists disease better than Arabica. In flavour, it has a lower acidity, with more body and bitterness.
GREEN COFFEE BEANS
After harvesting, coffee beans are called ‘green coffee beans’ because of a tinge that develops during drying. At this point, they smell and taste nothing like coffee. They need to be roasted first.
DECAFFITO COFFEE BEANS
Instead of removing caffeine from the bean, farmers are breeding new Decaffito plants whose cherries contain no caffeine at all.
WHITE COFFEE BEANS
White coffee beans are under-roasted to give the bean a lighter colour and the brew a smoother taste.
ESPRESSO COFFEE BEANS
You can use any type of coffee to make an espresso, but medium to dark roasts are usually better as they reduce the acidity created during the espresso brewing method.
There are many names for the different kinds of roast, but they generally fall under these four broad categories:
A light roast has a mild and toasted grain taste with a light body, pronounced acidity and no oil on the surface of the beans. The lightest roast is called Light Cinnamon.
A medium roast will have more body and less acidity than a light roast, but also has no oil on the bean surfaces. It’s commonly known as American Roast.
A full roast is dark, full-bodied and with a well-developed aroma. A Full City Roast is strong, whereas a Viennese Roast is rich brown in colour and slightly oily.
High roasts are the strongest and their smoky-sweet flavour can also be bitter. French Roast beans are almost black. Italian Roast beans are black, caramelised and oily.