Introduction to Speciality Coffee
For decades coffee has been the most commercialised food product and therefore the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Coffee consumption has increased heavily since the opening of the very first coffee house towards to end of the 15th century. This increase in coffee consumption worldwide is a result of the improvements in coffee quality due to careful growing and breeding methods along with constant efforts from local farmers to ameliorate traditional agricultural practices. The change in coffee image through new studies around the health benefits of long-term coffee consumption has also attributed to the success and growth of the coffee industry.
Over 80 different coffee species have been identified in the world, however only two species are important to the coffee industry: Arabica coffee, which dominates the coffee industry at about 60% of the coffee used and Robusta coffee, which makes up to other 40% of coffee used worldwide. Arabica coffee tends to produce a sweeter and more smooth cup while Robusta produces a much stronger and harsher cup.
Production of coffee
Coffee production involves a number of steps from harvest to cup. The more controlled each step of the manufacturing process the greater the chance of a high quality coffee. Harvesting of coffee is performed in three different ways, picking, manual stripping and mechanically. Speciality coffee is ordinarily harvested using the first method, picking. Only ripe cherries are selected and picked one by one. The reason this method is more desirable is due to the fact that coffee cherries do not ripen at the same rate and so other methods such as manual stripping and mechanical picking result in a mix of ripe and unripe cherries.
The drying process of the coffee is conducted by the coffee farmers. This process involves the removal of the fruit of the coffee cherry and the drying of the green coffee beans ready for shipment. The two mains types of drying processes are natural and washed however there are many different processes including experimental ways to better improve and provide vastly different flavour notes.
The natural process involves drying the cherry to a moisture content level of 11% and then removing the bean from the cherry after. The benefit of this method is that the coffee bean is in direct contact with the cherry fruit for a longer period of time allowing some of the flavours of the fruit to fuse with the coffee bean.
The washed process on the other hand involves removing the bean from the cherry usually within days of the fruit being picked. From here the green coffee beans are dried by itself to a moisture level of 11% and so possess more of the coffee beans taste. Our Finca Palmichal coffee supplied by Brian at Silverskin Coffee is a very sweet and complex washed coffee from the Finca El Palmichal region of Colombia. Shop our Filtered Coffee bags here!
Before roasting the coffee is known as green bean; after the roasting process the aroma of the coffee as well as the colour changes and a more typical coffee scent becomes apparent. During the roast the coffee beans will be exposed to extreme temperatures for a specific amount of time. This time varies based on the variety of beans that are being roasted, the sound the coffee makes when roasting and the regions/conditions they were grown in. These conditions include altitude the plants were grown at, soil type, rainfall (moisture content of the beans) and the drying process.
The two most common types of roasters are drum roasters (beans are in contact with hot surfaces or fire) and fluidized roasters (beans are in contact with hot air/gases). The temperatures used to roast coffee beans depend on the type of roaster but generally the maximum reached is between 210 and 230 Degrees Celsius. After roasting the beans are ground to a specific grind for example, french Press requires quite a coarse grind whereas as Moka Pot requires a very fine grind.