Wednesday, 22 January 2014


noun: coffee
  1. 1.
    a hot drink made from the roasted and ground bean-like seeds of a tropical shrub.
    "a cup of coffee"
    synonyms:joe, java
    • a cup of coffee.
      plural noun: coffees
      "we went out for a coffee"
    • coffee seeds roasted and ground, or a powder made from them.
      "a jar of instant coffee"
    • a pale brown colour like that of milky coffee.
      "coffee-coloured skin"
  2. 2.
    the shrub which yields coffee seeds, native to the Old World tropics.

The Story/History of Coffee

Coffee became popular in Britain in the 1700s.

The global spread of coffee growing and drinking began in the Horn of Africa where coffee trees originated in the Ethiopian province of Kaffa. 

Coffee was being cultivated in Yemen by the 15th century and earlier. In an attempt to prevent its cultivation elsewhere, the Arabs imposed a ban on the export of fertile coffee beans, a restriction that was eventually circumvented in 1616 by the Dutch, who brought live coffee plants back to the Netherlands to be grown in greenhouses.
The first coffeehouses or 'kaveh kanes' opened in Mecca and quickly spread throughout the Arab world. 
Nothing like this had existed before, a place where social and business life could be conducted in comfortable surroundings. The Arabian coffeehouse soon became a centre of political activity and was suppressed. Over the next few decades coffee and coffeehouses were banned numerous times but kept reappearing until eventually an acceptable way out was found when a tax was introduced on both.
Two other significant hot beverages also appeared in Europe. Hot chocolate being the first, brought in 1528; and tea, which was first sold in Europe in 1610. 
Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. 

In 1730 the British introduced coffee to Jamaica, where today the most famous and expensive coffee in the world is grown in the Blue Mountains.
In 1905 Colombia exported five hundred thousand bags of coffee; by 1915 exports had doubled. While Brazil desperately tried to control its overproduction, Colombian coffee became increasingly popular with American and European consumers. In 1914 Brazil supplied three-quarters of U.S. imports with 5.6 million bags, but by 1919 that figure had fallen to 4.3 million, while Colombia’s share had risen from 687,000 to 915,000 bags. 
In spite of political turmoil, social upheaval and economic vicissitude, the 20th century saw an essentially continuous rise in demand for coffee. U.S. consumption continued to grow reaching a peak in 1946, when annual per capita consumption was 19.8 pounds, twice the figure in 1900. 
In USA Seattle, has become synonymous with a new type of café culture, which, from its birth in the 1970s, swept the continent, dramatically improving the general quality of the beverage. 
Coffee is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade, in many years second in value only to oil as a source of foreign exchange to producing countries. Its cultivation, processing, trading, transportation and marketing provide employment for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. 
For many of the world's Least Developed Countries, exports of coffee account for more than 50 percent of their foreign exchange earnings. 

First Coffeehouse
-Caffe Florian

The first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1683, with the most famous Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco, opening in 1720. 
This is still open for business today. 
These are some images I found on the famous coffee house's website.

It still has a historical appearance, showing it's heritage.

The idea of the coffee house/shop is something I would like to look into further, there is a certain aura about such places, in my opinion and I would like to look into how this is created and how design is involved in this. 

Coffee Beans

There are two main species of coffee bean, arabica and robusta and both thrive in equatorial regions.

This beans grow in a grown at lower altitudes, 0 to 700 metres, and has a high yield per plant and high caffeine content (1.7 to 4.0%). It accounts for about 30% of world production of coffee. Robusta has a stronger flavour than arabica with a full body and a woody aftertaste which is useful in creating blends and especially useful in instant coffee.
Robusta is mainly grown in,
  • Western and Central Africa (Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Uganda, Angola, etc.)
  • Malaysia (Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Java, etc.)
  • Brazil
  • India
These beans grow at higher altitudes, 1000 to 2000 metres, and while it has a lower yield and less caffeine content (0.8 to 1.4%) it is widely recognised to be superior to robusta. Arabica accounts for about 70% of world production, although only about 10% of this yields "grand cru" beans. Arabica has a delicate acidic flavour, a refined aroma and a caramel aftertaste.
Arabica is mainly grown in the following regions:
  • Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama)
  • South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina)
  • India
  • Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique)
  • Papua New Guinea
Many of the cheaper blends have a higher proportion of robusta compared to arabica. Some high quality blends use a small quantity of the very best robusta beans to give body and character to the blends, particularly in espresso blends.

Coffee Roasting
To roast raw coffee beans they are heated to varying degrees of time in order to achieve the different types of roasts. Raw coffee beans are green, like you can see in this image.

The Roasting Process

The beans pass through different stages through the roasting process. 

  • The water contained in the bean evaporates. 
  • The bean swells to twice its original volume which causes the silvery coloured skin to break and fall off (this is removed from the roaster at the end of the roasting process). 
  • The colour of the bean changes from light green to yellow, to yellow-brown, to light brown and then to dark brown. 
  • The coffee aroma develops from a series of chemical reactions as the bean is roasted, it has virtually no aroma in its green form.

There are many different roasts of beans available on the market but these are the main categories with their roasting times.

Dark Roasts (14 minutes)

The darkest roasts such as Italian Roast are also known as "Heavy Roast".
The beans are roasted nearly to jet black giving a smoky well roasted taste which masks the natural flavours of the coffee bean.

Medium Dark Roasts (12 to 13 minutes)

Medium dark roast is when the beans are roasted for a long time at a high enough temperature to bring the natural oil of the coffee to the surface.

Some examples of medium dark roasts are:
  • French Roast - which is also known as "Dark Roast". These beans are often used to make espresso.
  • Continental Roast - which is slightly lighter than French Roast but with a spicy body.
  • Viennese Roast - which is roasted a little longer than regular American roast and has rich more chocolate like body.
  • Full City Roast - which is even darker than a City roast.

Medium Roasts (9 to 11 minutes)

Medium roasts balance body with flavour.

Some examples of medium roasts are:
  • Breakfast Roast - which is a bit sweeter than a light roast.
  • American Roast - which is not as dark as any of the European roasts but has a good aroma.
  • City Roast - which is darker than the standard American roast.

Light Roasts (7 minutes)

A light roast gives a very subtle light bodied flavour.

Some examples of light roasts are:
  • New England Roast.
  • Half City Roast.
  • Cinnamon Roast - where the surface of the bean is dry with no oils present and flavour is light-bodied.

This image is a good indication of the roasting process showing how the colours change, it also refers to some of the named roasts. 

Tasting and Evaluating Coffee

I found an article on popular coffee and tea sellers Whittards website that explains some of the terms used to describe the taste of coffee. Coffee terminology is something I think I want to look into further. 

Acidity is a desirable characteristic in coffee, it provides a sharp, bright, vibrant quality. Without sufficient acidity, the coffee will tend to taste flat.

Aroma is a sensation which is difficult to separate from flavour. Without our sense of smell, our only taste sensations would be: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Our sense of smell contributes to the flavours we discern on our palates. Subtle nuances, such as "floral" or "winey" characteristics, are derived from the aroma of the brewed coffee.

The feeling/texture that the coffee has in your mouth. It is the viscosity, heaviness, thickness, or richness that is perceived on the tongue.

Overall perception of the coffee in your mouth. Acidity, aroma, and body are all components of flavour. It is the balance of these senses that create your overall perception of flavour.

General flavour characteristics:

Richness - refers to body and fullness 
Complexity - the perception of multiple flavours 
Balance - the satisfying presence of all the basic taste characteristics where no one overpowers another


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