|Why are certain
coffees roasted to certain roast styles?
from different regions have special features like aroma, acidity, body,
earthiness, etc. Different roast styles bring out or diminish these
special characters. If, for instance, a region is famous for acidity and
you don’t want to reduce the acidity in the final cup, it should be
roasted lighter, and so on.
What is the best method to
This is subjective. However, whichever method
you choose - drip, french press, espresso etc - make sure to follow the
procedure recommended so that you do not over extract or under extract.
Time, temperature, ground particle size and the quality of the water are
all very important.
What is Espresso?
is made by passing water at a temperature of 195-203°F under pressure
of 8-10 bars (130 psi) through very finely ground coffee for 30 seconds.
About 8 grams of coffee per 1 oz of water is used. The most important
part of espresso is the layer of froth in the cup. This froth traps the
flavor compounds in small bubbles and releases them to the olfactory
sensors when we drink the coffee. Espresso is consumed hot and fresh
from the espresso machine.
Why use organic coffee?
It is well known that many of the chemicals used on coffee farms
are highly carcinogenic and banned by industrialized nations. The World
Bank and USAID promoted high tech sun-grown coffee. Farmers were taught
to increase the yield and ripen their cherries faster by cutting down
the shade trees. Many farmers had no choice because often that was the
condition to get bank credit. Cutting down the shade trees reduced the
habitat for the birds that controlled pests. So farmers had to use
synthetic pesticides. This required the increased use of synthetic
fertilizers to give the extra energy taken up by the pesticides. Also,
without the shade, the weeds increased and became difficult to control,
so the farmers had to use synthetic weed killers. Coffee is one of the
most chemical intensive crops. The farmers do not know how to use the
chemicals safely and many suffer from health problems caused by
chemicals like DDT. Groundwater is contaminated causing further
environmental problems. The pulp of the cherries, which constitutes
about 60% by weight, is removed to get the coffee beans. This pulp is
then thrown into the rivers, which reduces the pH of the water and kills
the marine life. Organically grown coffee goes back to the ageold
method where coffee is grown under shade trees and pests and weeds are
controlled by natural means. One of the greatest ways to use the pulp is
to transform it into fertilizer using redworms. This is successfully
done at many organic farms. Sadly, many businesses use organic labels on
products that are not organic. The new certification laws will
hopefully reduce this problem. It is believed that coffee roasted at
very high temperatures loses all the toxic chemicals, so the use of
those chemicals may not be directly harmful to the consumer. Coffee
farmers have suffered. We can help them live healthier lives and support
our environment by using certified organic products. Government
approved certifying agencies gives the certification.
use Fair Trade Coffee?
Refer to the section on the plight
of coffee farmers. The industry has long taken advantage of poor farmers
and farm laborers. It is time to step up and be fair to people who
produce the product we love so much. Fair Trade is an international
organization that certifies farmers and their cooperatives without any
cost to them. The sellers of their products get to use the Fair Trade
seal by paying a certain amount per pound. This money is then diverted
to marketing of Fair Trade certified farm products and policing honest
use of the seal. By using the Fair Trade seal the seller assures that
the farmer is paid at least a minimum base price established by the Fair
Trade Organization. This will assure that the farmers can live a
dignified life. Fair Trade also makes sure that such farmers and their
coops carry out community projects such as schools and health care, and
that the farm labor is treated properly. The cost associated with coffee
is only 15¢/lb, which is less than half a penny per cup of coffee. The
time has come to do a little something to help the farmers live a
dignified life. Fair Trade Seal ”
What is Shade-Grown
Traditionally, coffee was always grown in the shade
under the forest canopy. It was in the 1950’s that the World Bank and
USAID promoted high tech coffee, the farmers were asked to produce
sun-grown coffee in order to increase production. The shade trees were
therefore cut down. When the trees were cut down the birds lost their
habitat. Without the birds, the worms were not kept under control,
farmers had to rely on pesticides. The coffee plants were stressed from
growing in the sun and from the pesticides, to counteract this, chemical
fertilizers had to be used. The sun also caused increased weed growth,
necessitating use of chemical weed killers. The coffee cherries ripen
faster in full sun, the quality of the coffee also became questionable.
It is now generally believed that it was a mistake to cut down the
trees, and we are now asking the farmers to go back to their age-old
shade-grown coffee. The Smithsonian Institute certifies farms as “Bird
Friendly”. The cost of certification is paid by roasters on charge per
pound of “Bird Friendly” certified coffee sold. There are many farmers
now growing shade grown coffee but they may not yet be certified. We
purchase only shade grown coffee.
Shelf life of coffee:
It is generally considered that the shelf life of green beans in a
cool dry warehouse is at least a couple of years. However, once roasted,
the shelf life goes down tremendously. Roasted beans are good for no
more than a couple of weeks, unless stored freshly after roasting, in
one-way valve bags which are flushed with nitrogen. Oxygen is the worst
enemy of roasted coffee. Coffee thus packed in impervious bags and
stored in a cool dry place is said to last for six months, but that is
questionable. In any event, coffee should always be ground just before
brewing as the flavor compounds dissipate very fast.
is coffee ground to different particle size for different brewing
Each brewing method such as drip, perk, french
press, espresso etc. involves different times of contact between water
and ground coffee. Espresso takes only 30 seconds; the grounds are very
fine to give maximum surface contact with the water for full extraction.
In a french press, the granules stay in contact with water and are well
immersed for about 4-5 minutes. The coffee is ground coarse for french
press, both to prevent over- extraction by reducing the surface area of
contact between coffee and water and to make it easier to filter through
the metal filter.
Are there differences in coffees from
different parts of producing countries?
The quality of
coffee and its characteristic taste and aroma differ not only from one
region to another but also from year to year depending on rainfall and
other weather conditions. Coffee from countries like Guatemala with
different altitudes, rainfall and many microclimates can vary vastly
from one region to the next, and also within a region.
The two commonly grown coffee trees are
Arabica and Robusta. Most specialty coffees are Arabica, whereas cheaper
coffees on the store shelves are Robusta blended with some Arabica to
improve taste and flavor. Robusta trees are hardier and resistant to
frost and diseases. Most high quality Arabicas are produced in central
and South America and Hawaii. Eastern countries and Brazil are the major
producers of Robusta. Robusta has twice the caffeine content of
Arabica. Robusta flowers are cross-pollinated whereas Arabica can be
self-pollinated. Robusta trees are taller and produce more coffee beans
per tree. Robusta coffees are considerably cheaper than Arabicas. Good
Robusta coffees have good body and pungency and are used for blends of
How Drinking Coffee Effects Your Smile?
All coffee lovers, beware. By consuming your favourite drink you are at risk of teeth being stained and discolored. This does not mean you have to quit your drinking habit but you should consult with your Barrie dentist about the teeth whitening opportunities.