It’s probably your go-to drink every morning.
But where does coffee really come from?
Here’s a quick introduction to coffee!
Table of content
Coffee – The Beverage
Coffee is the beverage we brew from coffee beans.
And the same beverage that many crave every morning to help them kick start their day.
Coffee is known to contain caffeine which is the main chemical that give you that morning boost.
We did an in-depth study of caffeine and shared some of the interesting facts like what are the effects of caffeine as well as how many cups of coffee you should drink per day.
increase oxygen and nutrients going to brain, which helps alertness
increases nutrients going to muscles, which helps boost athletic activity
increases heart rate and concentration
Beyond being just a beverage, Coffee has a long history. You can read more here.
In the recent years, coffee the beverage has been revolutionized from a boring black drink that our grandparents take into a wide variety of hippy concoctions served in the modern day cafes.
These concoctions had been present pretty early in history, but have only been made popular recently with the increasing demand for specialty coffee.
Interesting Fact about Coffee
When you’re serve a cup of ‘specialty coffee’, you might want to give it a taste before deciding if you should dump sugar into it.
If done right, you should get a cup of coffee that is sweet, chocolaty and still delivers the punch.
Coffee – The Seed
The coffee bean is the seed of the coffee plant.
It is found within the coffee cherry or the coffee fruit, wrapped by a thin layer of pulp.
Most coffee cherries contain two coffee beans.
Cascara Tea – tea from the coffee pulp
Harvested coffee cherries are usually de-pulped and the seeds are processed in order to produce the coffee that we usually drink.
While the coffee seeds are sold to producers or roasters, the pulp is sometimes kept, dried and used to make a caffeinated drink that are popular among the coffee farmers.
Recently, this fruit has gained popularity in cafes. It can be seeped in hot water and served as a tea – cascara tea.
Unlike coffee, cascara tea is often sweet, light and fruity. You should definitely give it a try if your local cafe serves it 🙂
Peaberries are coffee cherries that contain only 1 coffee bean due to a mutation or defect that lead to the aborted development of the second coffee bean.
They tend to be smaller and rounder (and cuter) than the normal coffee beans. But they rarely occur (only 5% of the population).
Due to the scarcity and claims that it tastes more superior than the normal coffee beans, peaberries have been marketed as a more superior product.
Debates on the taste of peaberries continue till this day.
Coffee – The Fruit
Coffee beans are harvested from the plant genus, Coffea.
The coffee plant has many appearances, some are small scrubs, and others grow to become tall trees.
The 2 most well-known species of coffee include coffea arabica and coffea cacephora (also known as Robusta).
Coffea arabica tend to be grown at high altitudes and contain lower caffeine levels compared to coffea cacephora. Although there has been on going debates on which species is better, coffee lovers should remain open to both species.
I mean, the daily kopi that you crave for is brewed using robusta.
Here’s a great info graphic about the evolution of coffee from Cafe Imports;
Source: Cafe Imports
Coffee plants can be difficult to cultivate.
The coffee fruit can take up to a year to mature and will appear as bright red cherries when ripe.
They are capable of growing in a wide range of temperature and climates, but cannot withstand large fluctuation of temperatures.
They grow best in mild temperatures with frequent rain and weak sunlight. Rich soil will also allow them to grow better.
A little note about farming coffee
Harvesting these fruits is a labor intensive process that frequently requires farmers to handpick coffee cherries that are at the optimal stage of ripening, just before they fall off the trees.
Coffee processes from bean to cup is the key focus for every individual in the specialty coffee industry.
Our aim is to produce, serve and bring out the best that coffee has to offer to you.
Before specialty coffee
In the past, coffee farmers would harvest their coffee beans in a single batch without sorting them.
The single batch would contain coffee beans from different stages of development – from under developed to over developed or ripe.
Big coffee producers would purchase these batches of coffee based on the commodity price depicted on the stock exchange:
The main issue with this form of trading is that farmers returns are pegged to the movement of the stock exchange and hence beyond their control.
Often times, coffee farmers did not get much returns for their beans, they had to struggle to survive and to meet demands to increase their production in order to earn a living.
What specialty coffee wants to do
Specialty coffee producers learnt that by picking the coffee fruits at the right time and processing them using proven controlled methods, they could produce coffees of higher quality.
These high quality coffees could be sold to specialty roasters who are willing to pay a fair price for them.
Specialty coffee baristas and cafes are also willing to pay fairly for better tasting coffee.
Coffee farmers are therefore rewarded more fairly for their efforts.
On top of providing them with a reliable source of income, this also motivates the coffee farmers to improve their farming methods in order to produce better coffees over time.
By paying the farmers fairly, the specialty coffee industry believes that we will be rewarded with even better tasting coffees in the future.
Today, there are coffee farmers who grow small single lot coffees that are given the best care through out the entire season.
These single lot coffees are often limited to small batches and tend to be some of the best coffees in the market every season.