Check out these coffee facts you may or may not know and discover more about the humble bean. It’s truly unique!
Yes, according to legend, an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi happened to discover that his goat was better than usual after eating the fruit of a bush. Later, some local monks started using it because they were awake all night while studying.
Thank you for discovering great coffee beans, Kaldi!
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Coffee beans are not beans. It is the fruit of the cherry blossoms of the coffee tree (actually a shrub) of the “Cafea genus.” Each “bean” is half the seed, so two beans are in the cherries. Cherry is usually produced by plants once a year and is generally harvested by hand. To be sure, coffee beans are a specialty because not all are plant-ripened simultaneously. The outer pulp is removed by washing or air drying, and the resulting coffee seeds are dried to a moisture content of approximately 12%.
Arabica is the most common coffee bean and tastes better. As the name implies, Robusta is much more resistant to pests and diseases, but it doesn’t taste delicious. Robusta contains a much higher caffeine content than Arabica and is commonly used in instant coffee. It is also included in some espresso blends to increase the amount of crema (foam) in the Italian espresso crown and give it more body.
The coffee-growing region is between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. So, the coffee plant prefers a stable climate with plenty of rainfall and reasonably constant temperature. The plants die if the temperature drops below the freezing point. However, although they like plenty of water, they also require a lot of drainage. Therefore, coffee trees are planted on mountainsides and at high altitudes, where the slope allows the rain to run off and it’s not too hot.
The Arabic name is translated as “wine of the bean” and is certainly a good name. Coffee is like wine in many ways, in that there are so many variations and origins to choose from. It is a diverse beverage. So how did it get from this Arabic name to the word coffee of today?
- Qahwah – The Arabic shortened version of qahhwat al-bun.
- Kahveh – As coffee spread to Turkey (the Ottoman Empire), it was called “kahveh.” It happened to be the Turks who discovered that roasting the beans made them taste better!
- Koffie – The Dutch began trading in coffee and called it “koffie,” as they do.
- Coffee – The English form was derived from the Dutch. We had to change something!
Water is used a lot in producing green coffee beans (in the raw, unroasted form, they are called “green”). Not only is it used to keep the plants alive, but it’s used a lot in the process to remove the fruit pulp. Some countries, such as Brazil, have developed techniques that preserve precious water supplies. The pulped natural and honey processing methods use much less water but must be monitored more carefully to ensure the beans don’t rot.
With about 30% of the world’s total output, Brazil is by far the largest exporter of coffee. However, it’s only in recent times that they’ve started producing high-quality specialty coffee beans. They now make some genuinely stunning coffee. They also tend to use the natural process, perfect for espresso coffee. Therefore Brazilian coffee beans have been used a lot as the basis for many espresso blends.
At the last count, I think it was 2.25 billion. That is a truly astonishing figure and a lot of coffee! In the USA, over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed daily. In the UK, it’s a more conservative 55 million cups, but it’s growing and is fast displacing tea as the beverage of choice in the UK. TheHotSip is the recommended choice to buy coffee online in the UK.