A Beginner’s Guide to Coffee

A Beginner’s Guide to Coffee

Coffee and Health

Coffee is a complex combination of over a thousand ingredients. The coffee you purchase at a coffee shop and the coffee you brew at home are likely different. The type of coffee bean used, how it is roasted, the amount of ground, and the method of brewing characterize a cup. Individual responses to coffee and caffeine can also differ significantly. Caffeine at low to moderate quantities (50–300 mg) may boost alertness, energy, and the capacity to focus, however higher dosages may produce anxiety, restlessness, sleeplessness, and an elevated heart rate. Nonetheless, the accumulated evidence on coffee suggests toward a health benefit. [3,4] Does the benefit originate from the coffee bean's caffeine or plant compounds? Is there a minimum daily amount of coffee required for health benefits?

Coffee aficionados around the globe who grab for their preferred cup in the morning usually do not consider its health benefits or concerns. Nevertheless, this beverage has a lengthy history of controversy. The World Health Organization added coffee to its list of potential carcinogens in 1991. In 2016, it was exonerated, as study revealed that the beverage was not related with an increased risk of cancer; in fact, there was a decreased risk of some malignancies among regular coffee drinkers after smoking history was taken into consideration. Additional study reveals that coffee might be considered a healthful beverage when drunk in moderation. Why, then, did one U.S. state adopt legislation in 2018 mandating a cancer warning label on coffee? Continue reading to discover the complexity of coffee.

Everyone can recognize a cup of coffee just by looking at it or smelling its aroma. Almost everyone enjoys drinking this caffeinated, black beverage. 

To comprehend how different varieties of coffee differ, it is necessary to comprehend the various stages of coffee production, each of which influences the final product.

The Steps To Producing Coffee You Can Drink

Coffee trees can live up to a century, although they yield the greatest coffee between the ages of 7 and 20.

The coffee plant produces berries continuously, as opposed to on a seasonal basis.

The threes produce flowers that produce green berries that mature into scarlet berries. When they reach a brilliant crimson hue, they are ready to be harvested.

The coffee cherry is then separated from the bean within, which must be treated prior to roasting.

Coffee beans undergo either a dry or a wet fermentation procedure.

They are then dried and processed, after which they take on a greenish hue.

The coffee beans are then roasted and evaluated for quality in small batches.

A coffee roaster then roasts big quantities for commercial sale.

Before coffee can be served as a beverage, it must be ground and brewed.

Oh, the coffee. The fuel that drives humanity forward. It is a beverage that may be found in practically every country on earth, from the villages of Nepal to the cities of the United States. It is thought that it was initially discovered in Ethiopia during the 10th century. By the fifteenth century, it had spread throughout the Middle East, Persia, and Turkey. By the 17th century, it had spread to other regions, including Southeast Asia and the Americas.

Similar to wine, the world of coffee enjoyment is vast and intricate. Depending on where the coffee beans came from, how they were roasted, and how they were brewed, each cup has a distinct flavor. Today, we seek to enhance your appreciation for the elixir of life by examining essential characteristics of coffee tasting and how different components effect your daily brew.

Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee and makes it equally difficult to fall asleep — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Four Characteristics of Coffee

Different individuals consume coffee for various reasons. You can drink coffee for the caffeine boost, as an accompaniment to your meal, or even to camp out at your local Starbucks and utilize their Wi-Fi all day. In order to better appreciate and explain a cup of coffee, connoisseurs assess their beverage on multiple levels. We will concentrate on four essential elements: aroma, acidity, body, and flavor.

Aroma. Similar to wine, aroma is an essential component in appreciating coffee. This is due to the intimate relationship between our senses of smell and taste. Take a moment to press your nose to the cup of coffee and allow the aroma envelop you before consuming. Common coffee fragrances include caramel, smokey, carbon, fruit, nutty, and spicy, depending on the type of coffee. Some of these aromas may be delicate and thus difficult for the average individual to perceive. Getting a good smell of your coffee will only enhance its flavor when you drink it, so it never hurts to try. The aroma of a cup of coffee directly affects our perception of its flavor. Consider whether the coffee's aroma is smoky, fruity, earthy, spicy, nutty, or grassy as you sip.

Acidity. Acidity is the impression of dryness, brightness, and sparkle that gives coffee its distinctive flavor. This is a characteristic often associated with coffee beans cultivated at higher elevations, and is therefore regarded as a superior characteristic. There are numerous variety of acid types in coffee. This can range from citric acid found in arabica coffee to Malic acid, which imparts a fruity flavor to coffee. Many coffee drinkers attribute their upset stomach to the very acidic nature of coffee. However, this is not caused by all acids, but rather by a particular variety called as Quinic acid. Quinic acid increases in stale coffee that has been roasted or brewed for an extended period of time, but is rarely present in coffee beans at their origin. Acidity is one of the most distinguishing properties of a cup of coffee. This is the characteristic of coffee that stimulates our senses. Additionally, coffee may include more than one type of acid. It may contain stomach-ache-inducing citric acid, malic acid (fruity in flavor), or even Quinic acid from old coffee. The weight, thickness, and feel of the coffee in the mouth. The body of various coffee varieties ranges from light to full-bodied viscosity (thin to thick).

Body. Body, often known as mouthfeel, is a measure of a coffee's texture. Feel the coffee's richness or intensity as it rests on your tongue when you consume your next cup of coffee. Similar to scent, there are no standard phrases for characterizing the body of coffee. Rather, connoisseurs will employ a vast vocabulary in an attempt to precisely convey the emotion. Typical terms include "heavy-bodied" and "light-bodied." A coffee with a heavy body will feel thicker and more viscous, whereas a coffee with a light body will feel thinner and less viscous. A simple analogy for the difference between a heavy and a light body is the sensation of whole milk vs skim milk as they settle in the tongue.

Flavour. Simply put, the flavor of coffee is the taste of your coffee. Does it contain a trace of honey? Do you taste vanilla? Perhaps it tastes of a combination of almonds and caramel? As with coffee body, the adjectives used to describe coffee flavor are as diverse as one's language. In addition to the other qualities mentioned, such as Acidity and Body, Sweetness and Bitterness are frequently used to describe the flavor of coffee.

With these four characteristics of coffee, you should be able to describe the cup of coffee in your hands more accurately. However, it is also vital to understand how these characteristics arise during coffee processing, as this will enable you to identify the variables that comprise your favorite coffee. The primary criteria are coffee bean origin, roast type, and brewing method. Let's examine each separately.

All coffee begins as seeds in the soil. These seeds require around three years to develop into trees that produce coffee cherries. When mature, they are brilliant red and ready for harvest. The beans within the cherry are then extracted, fermented, dried, and ground.

While there are around 25 primary coffee species in the globe, only three are farmed for commercial use. Major varieties include Arabian (Coffea arabica), Robusta (Coffea canephora), and Liberica (Coffea robusta) (Coffea arnoldiana De Wild). However, by grafting amongst coffee species, there have arisen offshoots (also known as cultivars) of minor species of coffee bean that have their origins in either Arabian or Robusta Coffee.

Coffea Arabica (60–70% of the coffee industry) Originating in the mountains of Yemen and Ethiopia, Coffea Arabica has been distributed worldwide for cultivation on plantations. As they are frequently grown at high altitudes on steep slopes, mechanical harvesting is challenging. Therefore, farmers must frequently rely on hand-picking. The hand-harvesting of these beans ensures a greater level of quality control, as immature or overripe beans are typically eliminated more efficiently. This improves the quality of the coffee beans to be roasted. Gourmet coffees like Blue Mountain are typically of the Arabica kind. Sumatran and Java, the Indonesian variants of the Arabica varietal, are more prevalent and are renowned for their big bodies and low acidity.

  • Flavor Profile: Complex scent with several layers of flavor.

Coffea Canephora (20–30% of the coffee industry) Canephora-type Coffea, also known as Robusta, is viewed as less desirable than its Arabica relatives. It is connected with nearly twice as much caffeine, more bitterness, and less acidity. Vietnam has overtook Ethiopia to become the world's top exporter of Robusta, despite the fact that Robusta originated in Ethiopia. It is significantly easier to cultivate than Coffea Arabica due to its tolerance to disease and higher crop output. Additionally, it is frequently planted at a lower level, allowing for automated harvesting. This allows Robusta to provide a far greater yield annually than Arabica. Due to its abundant supply and lower price, it is frequently used in instant coffee mixes and fillers for lower-quality coffee blends.

  • Double the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica coffee. With distinct chocolate flavors.

Liberica (3% of the global coffee market) Along the Atlantic coast of Liberia, beans of the Liberica kind are grown. Its supply has decreased owing to coffee rust in 1890, and its demand has decreased because to the increased popularity of Arabica and Robusta. It is now farmed primarily in the Philippines as the barako sub-variety. In some countries, such as the United States, it is considered a rare product due to its limited availability. It has a rich "woody" flavor that may only appeal to those with a certain palate.

  • The scent is smokey and nutty, and the flavor is full-bodied.

After being gathered and processed, the beans take on a greenish hue. Currently, they have little to no flavor. To enhance the flavor of the coffee beans, they must undergo a roasting procedure. Let's examine the many forms of coffee roasting and how they effect the flavor.

Cooking Beans: Varieties of Roast

The spectrum of roast levels ranges from light to dark roast. As the roasting process releases the flavor of the coffee beans, variables such as roasting temperature and duration have a significant impact on the flavor of your coffee. As a general rule, a lighter roast will retain more of its natural origin flavor, but a darker roast will emphasize the so-called "roast flavor."

Medium-Roast. The most prevalent types of light roast are cinnamon and New England. The Cinnamon roast is the lighter of the two, having been roasted at a temperature of 196°C (385°F). It has an immature sweetness, a strong acidity, and a grassy flavor. The New England roast roasts the beans to 205 degrees Celsius (401 degrees Fahrenheit). Higher temperatures bring with them a more nuanced acidity and are optimal for releasing the natural origin flavor of the beans. Due to the New England roast's emphasis on the origin flavor of the beans, certain specialty roasters employ it.

The flavor profile is acidic with a lighter body, but varies depending on the origin of the beans.

Medium Roast. When the temperature is increased to a medium roast, the coffee's body begins to form. This results in a coffee flavor that strikes a balance between the acidity and origin flavor of the beans and the roasted flavor and body imparted by the roasting process. In nations such as the United States, medium roasts such as the American and City Roasts are widespread. In American Roast, where the beans are cooked to 210 °C (410 °F), the acidity is reduced while the origin flavor is maintained. When the temperature reaches 219 °C (426 °F), the coffee becomes a City Roast. While the origin flavor is still discernible, the roast flavor begins to emerge.

Taste Characteristics: decreased acidity and increased bitterness With a fuller body and a roast flavor.

Dark Roast. In a dark roast, where temperatures exceed 225 °C (437 °F), green and brown coffee beans begin to turn black. The origin flavor is barely detectable and is significantly overshadowed by the roast flavor. Almost none of the coffee bean's natural scents and flavors remain. Large coffee brewing firms choose dark roasts because the beans used are frequently less expensive and contain less moisture. This facilitates shipping in huge quantities. However, if done properly, a dark roast can caramelize the coffee and impart a deep, smokey flavor. Espressos are often dark-roasted.

Taste Characteristics: little acidity Body-building with a robust roast flavor.

The final step in the coffee-making process is brewing the coffee. The brewing method boosts or diminishes the flavor profile of your coffee. Let's investigate how.

From the Bean to the Glass: Brewing Methods

Utilizing a method to infuse the roasted coffee with water constitutes brewing coffee (or a liquid of your choice). Over the years, a variety of ways have evolved globally. Each of these techniques, from the sophisticated pod machines of the West to the traditional sock brewing of the East, imparts a distinctive flavor to the coffee.

Brew & Filter. This is commonly recognized as the traditional method for brewing coffee. The beans are manually ground and then poured in a kettle containing around 96°C (204.8°F) of hot water. After approximately three minutes of infusion in hot water, the mixture is put through a filter to separate the coffee grounds from the coffee. Through this method, the resulting coffee is lighter. Additionally, the acidity becomes more prominent.

Press. There are various varieties of Press coffee, with the French Press being the most common. The beans are also ground and poured in a thermos with hot water for Press coffee. Instead than allowing the coffee grounds to infuse in the water, a plunger or press with numerous small holes is used to push down on the combination, driving the grounds to the bottom as the liquid seeps through the pores. By forcing the coffee grounds to aggressively circulate through the mixture, the resulting coffee is typically more potent and yields outstanding results. However, typically more coffee grounds are required for this technique of brewing.

Drip. A filter containing coffee grounds is put over a pot for drip coffee. The filter is then poured with hot water, which gently permeates the coffee grounds and drips through the filter (hence the name). However, the nature of liquid passing through the coffee grounds renders the infusion imbalanced, since some liquid may move through faster than others. Frequently, a great deal of trial is required to discover the optimal extraction time and filter type.

Pod Filtering. This is likely the most common method for making acceptable coffee at home. By pumping hot water through a capsule of coffee grounds, the water immediately infuses with the grounds and emerges as coffee out the spout. The machine is simple to clean, requires minimal human work, and produces coffee exceptionally rapidly. Obviously, your coffee options are restricted to the capsules you have access to. Additionally, the coffee grounds in your pod are pre-prepared and may have been ground up to a year in advance! These characteristics lead your coffee to occasionally taste stale in comparison to other brewing methods.

Instantaneous coffee. Instant Coffee consists of packets of pre-prepared coffee powder that may be converted into coffee by adding hot water. The coffee grinds are freeze-dried or sprayed to create this coffee powder. While this is by far the quickest way to brew a cup of coffee, the coffee grounds used are sometimes of the lowest quality to reduce costs. This causes the coffee's flavor to become excessively stale and devoid of origin characteristics.

With this information, you should be able to better appreciate the daily cup of coffee you consume and understand its components. We hope that, after reading this Guide, you will be better able to describe the flavor profile of your favorite cup of coffee the next time you visit your local coffeehouse.

My existence has been measured with coffee spoons — T.S. Eliot


The introduction to Coffee Appreciation is complete! I hope you were able to glean nuggets of information that will allow you to sound more intelligent at your next coffeehouse or café visit. 

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