(1) Guide to Coffee : An Introduction
March 22 2016
Guide to Coffee is your basic bible to coffee related topics & terms, from planting, harvesting to third wave coffee. Each part is produced in collaboration with coffee professionals- coffee roasters, cafés or coffee farmers. Let the fun (and learning) begin.
Have you ever wondered where does the coffee come from, how particular types of coffee differ from each other? If your answer is yes, than keep reading, because we willa answer all of your questions.
All coffee origins from the area called "coffee belt." You probably heard that once or twice, but what countries does this term includes? "In Central and South America, it basically includes all countries from Mexico to Bolivia. African coffee is mainly from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda or Burundi. Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea are the main areas of coffee cultiviating in Asia," says David, owner and head barista in Brew Bar, the first third wave café in Bratislava.
The life of a coffee starts in a coffee nursery, where coffee bean is planted and starts to grow. The coffee plant is transfered to a plantation after the seedling stems . The first harvest is possible after 5 years. The coffee plant produces best coffee beans during the next 15-20 years, even though the plant itself can live up to 100 years.
There are two primary types of coffee - arabica & robusta. There have been lots of arguments about the quality of robusta, but have you ever wondered what does actually determine its quality? What are the differences between the two types?
- difficult to cultivate
- hates direct sunlight, requires planting in the shadow of other vegetation
- hates temperature extremes (too high and too low temperatures)
- prone to diseases, attracts pests
- more expensive to grow
- popular types: Typica, Bourbon, Blue Mountain, Caturra
- simple cultivation
- does not require much nursing
- can grow almost everywhere
- bitter, earthy taste
- cheaper to grow
- Vietnam is the world's largest producer
Now, when we learned what affects the quality, let's dig into the taste determinants:
Each type of coffee has its own signature taste. The perfect example could be Kenyans SL28 and SL34 that were cultivated to achieve the taste typical for terroir* of Kenya - forest fruits & limes. The number in their names indicates the year of their breeding.
In order to obtain very resistant coffee, "Geisha" was breeded from the typical Ethiopian Gesha. When planted in higher altitudes, it serves very clean fruity tones in both taste and aroma.
That is all about the basics of Coffee. Next up - Coffee Processing.
*terroir- the complete natural environment in which a particular coffee is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate