COFFEE GROWING FACTS
• Coffee is grown between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
• Arabica coffee generally grows at elevations from 3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level.
• Most coffee trees begin to produce commercially viable crops about 3-5 years after planting.
• Mature coffee trees are generally pruned to between 6-8 feet (for easier harvesting). Left
un-pruned they can grow to 25 feet.
• Arabica trees yield 1 to 1.5 pounds of coffee per tree per year.
• Healthy trees can produce quality coffee for about 25-30 years.
• There are approximately 4,000 coffee beans in a pound of coffee.
Each coffee bean begins its life on a coffee tree in the form of a coffee cherry. Most plants first bloom and then bear fruit, however coffee trees actually bloom and bear fruit simultaneously. This makes harvesting labor intensive because cherry pickers must return to the same coffee tree as many as five times to handpick only the ripest of the red berries. These red berries, when ripe are about the size of a cranberry. They have a sweet pulp with two flat-sided seeds inside. These seeds are the coffee beans.
In about 10% of all coffee berries, only one bean will appear inside the cherry. In this instance the bean is considered a "Peaberry". Peaberries are small and round, and are often separated from normal beans and sold as a distinct grade of a given coffee such as a Kona Peaberry or a Tanzania Peaberry.
Once the coffee cherries have been picked, the outer pulp must be husked to remove the beans from the cherry. There are two common methods of husking the cherry: the wet method and the dry method. Both methods result in an end product commonly referred to as green coffee beans. Green coffee beans are then sorted by size and grade, packed in burlap bags or barrels and shipped. Later, the roasting process will create chemical changes in the green coffee beans allowing them to release their own natural flavors.
Caffeine is an odorless bitter alkaloid that is classified as a stimulant.
Darker roasted coffees tend to have slightly less caffeine than lighter roasted coffees. Because dark coffees are roasted for longer periods of time and at higher temperatures, some caffeine is actually roasted out of the bean. For a coffee to be classified as decaffeinated however, it must be 97% caffeine-free. Decaffeinated coffee is derived from beans that have been processed prior to roasting to remove the caffeine.
One of the methods available for decaffeinating coffee is The Water Process which requires green beans to be submerged into heated water. This complex process removes caffeine without chemicals, and preserves the coffee's characteristics.
Roasting is considered an art form by most because the Master Roaster must call on his/her experience, knowledge, and adaptability to successfully roast each type of coffee. The goal of the roast is to properly develop the coffee bean and to achieve the optimal roast color.
The hardness of a bean as well as the moisture content causes each type of coffee to react differently to the heat generated in the roasting process. Local factors that will affect the roasting process are humidity, temperature, and altitude. Due to the numerous changing variables involved, it is impossible to successfully roast coffee without human adaptation. Computer technology lacks adaptability of this nature, and that is why roasting is truly an art, not a science.
Beans & Brews believes that the roast must enhance a coffee's characteristics rather than overpower it. In general, the darker a coffee is roasted, the more the individual characteristics are lost. In a dark roast, the coffee exemplifies the flavor of the roast rather than the flavor of the bean itself. Roasters that roast all coffees dark, produce coffees that lack individualization. Beans & Brews' coffees are distinctive in characteristic as a result of our roasting philosophy.
The smoky richness that is produced from dark roasted coffees such as French and Italian are desirable for many, especially as espresso. For that reason, Beans & Brews offers these selections as well.
High-Altitude Roasting™ is defined by Beans & Brews as coffee that is roasted at a minimum of 4,000 feet above sea level. Beans & Brews is the only company in the nation that may market coffee using the High-Altitude Roasting trademark. Beans & Brews has gained a significant advantage over its competitors through the process of High-Altitude Roasting™. There are few roasters that roast coffee at such a high altitude, and fewer still who understand the advantage of doing so. The advantage is noticeable in the flavor of the coffee. The smooth intensity of Beans & Brews' coffees is unmatched from coffees roasted at lower altitudes.
The simplest analogy to High-Altitude Roasting™ is that of baking. Just as baking goods at high altitudes is different from baking goods at lower altitudes, so is roasting coffee. In roasting coffee, high altitude allows for quicker bean development at a lower temperature, avoiding the two most common tribulations of roasting coffee: baking, and scorching. Baking occurs when coffee is roasted too long causing inadequate structural expansion and resulting in flavor that is flat and lacks intensity. Scorching occurs when coffee beans are roasted at too high of a temperature causing lack of development and resulting in flavor that is wild, woody and unappealing. It is common knowledge in the coffee roasting industry that heat should be applied at both the lowest temperature possible and for the shortest possible amount of time. High-Altitude Roasting™ accomplishes that exact objective.
The concept of describing a coffee is not scientific. It is a personal experience that is unique to each individual. An individual can never be wrong about what he/she is experiencing while tasting, he/she may just lack the knowledge of how to describe it. It takes many years of practice to describe a coffee's comprehensive taste. The Beans & Brews F-B-A coding system is an attempt to systematically quantify the taste profile that an individual is experiencing, so as to simplify the process of describing a coffee. F-B-A coding enables even a novice coffee drinker to understand the basic characteristics of coffee.
This coding system assigns a numeric value to each of the three major taste components relating to coffee: Flavor, Body, and Acidity. The numeric value assigned is based on a scale of 1-3. A one indicates that the characteristic is a minimized characteristic in the coffee's overall taste. A three indicates that the characteristic is a prominent characteristic in the coffee's overall taste.
This F-B-A Coding System is copyrighted and therefore exclusive to Beans & Brews. It is an excellent tool to help an employee sell coffee by determining which characteristic(s) are most important to a Guest. Guests can also benefit from the coding system by choosing similar coded coffees to those that they have previously enjoyed.
Flavor describes overall taste and aroma and it is a characteristic that will be identified immediately, even if subconsciously. Flavor must be appealing to the coffee drinker before the palate can appreciate a coffee's body or acidity. This complex characteristic is simplified by the coding system by describing its range from Mellow to Intense.
Body describes the mouth-feel of a coffee and is a quality recognized as a heaviness or thickness. The coding system describes the range of Body from Light to Full. A full body will encompass the palate and have a lingering effect; whereas a light body will seem clean to the palate with no lingering effect. The addition of cream to a light-bodied coffee will be overbearing, creating a watered-down effect. However, a full-bodied coffee can endure the addition of cream.
Acidity describes the tart or dry effect, and is the final element recognized. The coding system describes the range of Acidity from Low to High. A coffee with high acidity shocks the palate with an initial snap, but dissipates quickly, leaving the palate with a dry sensation. A coffee with a low acidity has no such effect.
1. Aftertaste: The sensation of brewed coffee vapors, ranging from carbony to chocolaty to spicy, released from
the residue remaining in mouth after swallowing.1
2. Aroma: The sensation of the gasses released from brewed coffee ranging from fruity to herby as they are inhaled through the nose by sniffing.1
3. Baked: A taste and odor taint that gives the coffee brew a flat bouquet and insipid taste. The result of the roasting process proceeding with too little heat over too long of period, causing the caramelization process to follow chemical pathways that do not develop flavorful compounds.1
4. Balanced: A coffee that demonstrates exceptional levels of each of the basic characteristics: flavor, body, acidity. Balance is most often achieved through blending coffees with different but complimentary characteristics.
5. Bitter: A pungent aftertaste that is inherent in some coffees. It becomes an overbearing taste if amplified by over-carbonization during the roasting process.
6. Bland: Lacking coffee flavor and characteristic. 2 Flat.
7. Chocolaty: Flavor characteristics that closely resemble those found in unsweetened chocolate.
8. Complex: The perception of multiple intense characteristics.
10. Nutty: Flavor characteristics that closely resemble those found in roasted nuts.
11. Rich: Qualifies a full coffee that has a very developed body, flavor, and especially high degree of aroma. 2
12. Smooth: Containing a low level of characteristics that appeal to the palate.
13. Spicy: A pleasant aroma or flavor that hints of particular spices.
14. Wild: A coffee that lacks direction and significant definable characteristics. Unseasoned coffee (coffee roasted less than 24 hours prior) or coffee that has been under-roasted often demonstrates wildness.
15. Winey: A coffee that demonstrates a high acidic quality and dryness.
16. Woody: A taste quality giving the coffee beans a distinct wood-like character.
1 Lingle, Ted R., The Coffee Cuppers;'s Hand book: A systmatic Guide to the Sensory Evaluation of Coffee's Flavor.
2 Nestle Food Service Glossary of Terms Used for Tasting Coffee.
There are two main species of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is the coffee species that is used for traditional commercial canned and instant coffee. These beans are the easier of the two species to both grow and harvest, making them less expensive than gourmet coffee. However, this species typically has a flat taste and lacks aroma and flavor.
Gourmet coffee, on the other hand, is comprised of only the superior coffee species: Arabica. Arabica beans grow only at altitudes above 3,000 feet, and only in a sub-tropical belt between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn around the earth's equator. These beans are more costly to produce than Robusta because their crops are more vulnerable to disease and unfavorable weather conditions. However, the outcome is a bean that produces a brew that is very aromatic and extremely rich.
Arabica beans harvested from different regions as well as from different estates and plantations take on their own unique and satisfying flavor characteristics, none of which can be matched by the Robusta bean.
There are two basic methods of labeling gourmet coffee. The first method of labeling is limited to the country or origin. Examples of such labeling are: Sumatran, Kenyan, Colombian, and Ethiopian. This method lacks commitment to a specific grade or quality.
The second method of labeling gourmet coffee results in exotic names for coffees that, in fact, serve a very useful purpose. In this method the primary name indicates the country of origin (Colombia). The secondary name provides detailed information beyond the country of origin such as region (Mandehling), grade (Supremo), or estate (Mweiga).
Coffee can be further classified in several ways. The classifications range from broad to very narrow in scope.
Geographic Delineation: The three primary geographic regions are the Americas, Africa, and Indonesia.
Country of Origin: The country in which the coffee is grown.
Growing Region: The specific growing region within the country that a coffee was grown.
Grade: The designation of quality or size assigned to the bean.
Estate: The specific plantation on which a coffee was grown.