Learn Coffee

Coffee is a drink brewed using the beans from inside coffea cherries. Coffea plants are grown on farms surrounding the equator. The people who brew coffee professionally are called Baristas.

Coffee History

The origin of brewed coffee was located in modern day Yemen. It may have been brewed there as early as the 10th Century (930 AD) for medicinal purposes. It slowly evolved into a social drink by the 15 century (1400 AD), when the city Mokha was the coffee center of the world.

The commodity brought great riches to Mokha from exportation. Unroasted (plantable) beans had fierce protection, but were finally smuggled out in the 17th Century (around 1616 AD). It was then planted worldwide, and Mokha's extravagance diminished. After 1650, coffeehouses began to pop up throughout Europe.

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Coffee Classification

While there are over 100 species of Coffea plants, only two species are used for brewing coffee: Arabica and Robusta. About 75% of coffee is Arabica, and only 25% Robusta. Arabica is more expensive, has a crisp flavor, but is demanding for farming. The Robusta species is cheaper, has a cloudy flavor, and is resilient for farming.

Coffee naturally has caffeine in it. Robusta coffee has more caffeine than Arabica. Processing methods were invented for removing most of the caffeine. Coffee is generally available in regular (full caffeine), half-caff, and decaf (about 5% caffeine remaining).

Over 25 countries farm coffee. They all lie within 25 degrees latitude of the equator and are called the Coffee Belt. The soil, elevation, weather, and farming technique all impart significant character to the final brew, so coffee is different from Central America, Africa, and Indonesia.

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Brewing Coffee

To brew coffee, you need two ingredients, coffee beans and water.

Beans go through an elaborate process from the farm to your cup. They start as ripe red cherries, are processed, milled, and separated into grades of quality. Higher quality beans are denser than lower quality ones. Then beans are roasted, ground, and extracted with water.

Roasting determines if the beans are light, medium, or dark. Light roasts have a light body, more acids, more bitter flavors, and are delicate overall. Dark roast have a heavy body, more oils, more sweet or smoke flavors, and are bold overall.

The many designs of brewing equipment can extract beans into either standard coffee or espresso. Standard coffee is brewed at atmospheric pressure. Espresso is brewed at a pressure at least 9x higher, which emulsifies the oils into a bold and silky shot.

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Serving Coffee

Coffee and espresso are usually served hot. The oils in coffee are volatile, so coffee must be consumed soon after brewing to experience peak flavor and aroma. Milk and sugar typically accompany coffee. Creamy milk and sweet sugar contrast the dry acids and roasted or smokey oils in black coffee.

There are a number of traditional coffee and espresso recipes. The most popular are caffe lattes and cappuccinos.

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The main purpose of coffee glassware, since the original zarfs and fincans, has been to keep coffee hot without burning your hands and fingers.

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English - coffee
Spanish - el café
Italian - caffe
French - el café
German - die kaffe
Arabic - qahwah

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