I didn’t know this until recently, but coffee is a HUGE subject. It’s comparable to wine in how complex it can be. There are a lot of things you can change at every stage of making coffee that will affect your coffee experience, but it starts as early as when it’s planted. Here’s a few ways that the flavour can start changing way before it even gets to your cup!
This is a wine making term. It’s basically where the beans (or vines for wine) come from. It’s the earth, water and climate of the place where they’re grown and it makes a big difference to taste. The difference in flavour between coffee grown in Colombia vs Ethiopia vs Brazil vs Costa Rica can be really noticeable.
Ever thought about where coffee beans come from? They’re the stones from cherries, so they have to be picked and then extracted from the cherry somehow. That can be done in a couple of ways. The oldest method is just leaving the cherries in the sun. The flesh breaks down and shrivels to a husk, adding flavour to the drying beans. That’s still done, but now there are machines that can speed up the process too.
The flesh can also be removed by removing the skin and letting the cherries sit in water to ferment. The beans are dried separately, after getting all those delicious fermented flavours!
Did you know coffee beans are green? Mind. Blown. They only get their distinct deep dark brown colour when they’re roasted. Roasting is another opportunity to completely change the flavour of your coffee. Roasters carefully control the time and temperature of a roast, from the starting temperature, to the time it takes to get to ‘first crack’ (the temperature where the beans crack open), then the time they leave the beans in to roast after first crack (insert science here).
They experiment to create recipes for different beans, just like we do with food. They then use the recipes to get consistent flavours. So with those basics in mind it’s totally up to you or your coffee shop to choose the beans for your perfect morning coffee (unless you’re roasting your own beans you crazy cat!). Next time, we talk brewing. It gets deep.
James is currently exploring coffee! After a number of workshops, to get himself up to a pro level, he’s sharing the beans. Stay tuned for some more exciting articles but in the meantime… head to Twitter to join in the conversation.