Coffee (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
COFFEE. Coffee refers to both a plant and to the hot and cold beverages made from the pit or "bean" of its fruit. Coffee contains significant amounts (between 0.8 percent and 2.5 percent) of the stimulant alkaloid caffeine (trimethylxanthine) as well as protein and carbohydrates. The coffee shrub or bush grows as two species, Coffea arabica and C. canephora, and is indigenous to Africa, specifically to the Kaffa region of Ethiopia. The word "coffee" is derived from the Turkish word kahveh, which is rooted in the Arabic word kahwah, meaning wine, this indicating the use of the beverage as a replacement for alcoholic beverages that are forbidden under strict Muslim religious law.
The coffee plant is an evergreen with elliptical, dark shiny green leaves that yields a red husked berry containing a seed pit or "bean." Coffee belongs to the Rubiaceae family and, depending on which of two species from which it is harvested, propagates differently. Coffea arabica is grown principally in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Coffea canephora (also known as Coffea robusta) is grown in Africa (mostly in the Congo), India, and Vietnam, which is its leading producer. The arabica is self-pollinating, while the canephora or robusta needs cross-pollination to fruit. After planting, the shrub requires four to five years of growth before it will fruit. When harvested, the ripe red husk is removed from the berry, and the fresh seed can be planted to generate seedlings or dried for planting at a later time. (It is this seed that is the coffee bean as it is commonly understood.)
Processing the beans requires two steps. In the first step, usually in the country of origin, the husk of the berry is left to ferment and soften, which facilitates the extraction of the seed or bean. The beans are then dried and shipped "green" or unroasted to a destination where they are roasted either for local consumption or for packaging and transshipping to other markets. The roasting process has a substantial effect on the color and flavor of the bean and the beverage it will produce. The darker the roast, the stronger the flavor. It is also the roasting process that eliminates water, making the bean more brittle and easier to grind.
Coffea arabica produces the "Arabica," also known as "Brazilian," varieties, which are often preferred for their balanced aroma and rich flavor. The best, rarest, and most sought after arabica types are harvested in Indonesia, Jamaica, Hawaii, and Colombia, where they are grown on small production farms at a relatively slow and steady growth rate, developing flavorful berries. (In this way they may be said to parallel wine production.) Coffea canephora, or robusta, tends to be strong and bitter. Because Coffea canephora can resist frost and disease and can sustain warmer climates and lower elevations, it experiences faster growth patterns and higher fruit yields. This generally results in beans that contain more caffeine than arabica types but that lack subtlety and flavor. The canephora bean is said by experts to be neutral by comparison to arabica.
|TOTAL COFFEE PRODUCTION||TOTAL EXPORTS OF ALL FORMS OF COFFEE|
|By the top 15 producing countries||The top 15 producing countries|
|Crop years 1999/00 to 2001/02||Calendar years 1999 to 2001|
|(in thousands of bags)||(in thousands of bags)|
|Crop year commencing||1999||2000||2001||Calendar year||1999||2000||2001|
|Costa Rica||(A)||2,404||2,246||2,364||Costa Rica||2,195||1,964||2,018|
|All other producers||13,935||13,043||12,742||All other producers||9,302||8,708||8,313|
|(A) Arabica producer|
|(R) Robusta producer|
|(A/R) Produces both types. Predominantly Arabica|
|(R/A) Produces both types. Predominantly Robusta||SOURCE: International Coffee Organization|
It is believed that the earliest producers of coffee, the Ethiopians, did not brew coffee as it is recognized in the twenty-first century from the roasted beans but made drinks from the bitter berries, combined the roasted beans with butter or animal fat (most likely that of mutton), or chewed roasted beans as a mild stimulant. Numerous tales on the subject of coffee and its discovery exist. One of the most persistent is of a ninth-century Ethiopian goat herder intrigued by his intoxicated, hyperactive flock. Having grown curious, he sampled berries his goats had been eating and felt similarly stimulated.
No extensive or significant use of the coffee crop has developed among Ethiopia's indigenous peoples, and it became an exotic crop for them, exported first to Yemen, then to other Arab nations. It is noteworthy that coffee production did not develop in Africa until the twentieth century and that consumption there is minor. (The berries are sometimes used to enhance teas, which are generally preferred as beverages there.)
A primitive approach to making the coffee beverage may have originated at the beginning of the eleventh century in Ethiopia, however, this was likely learned through Arab traders who ground roasted beans into a fine powder and stirred it into hot water. Most scholars believe the antecedents of modern brewed coffee drinks were developed in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries in Yemen and accredit the processing of the beansoasting, grinding, and ultimately brewing the pungent hot drinko a sheik of the Sufi order. Irrespective of the drink's origins, wild coffee plants may have been cultivated as early as the sixth century, but it was not until the fifteenth century that the coffee bush, Coffea arabica, is believed to have been domesticated, developed as an agricultural product, and spread throughout Muslim nations from Southwest Asia to Southeast Asia, including the Indonesian archipelago.
When first brought into widespread use, coffee was usually taken as a dark, bitter drink. Sugar was rarely used in the Arabian beverage, perhaps for fear that it would overstimulate the mind. The spice cardamom was often added to the brew for a naturally sweet flavor, and perhaps to counterbalance or mediate its bitter essence. Cardamom-flavored coffee is most commonly associated with the beverage known as Turkish coffee, as is the eleventh-century approach to boiling the grounds as a brewing technique. (Sugar is often added in this version as well.)
Historically coffee was the subject of frequent controversy and confusion, and its riseuch like teaarallels the development of international trade and economic interdependencies. Coffee was perceived, for example, early in its development to have medicinal benefits, including as a curative for mange, sore eyes, dropsy, and gout. However, it was also feared that, when mixed with milk, coffee caused leprosy. Coffee was often at the center of political turmoil, especially through the development of coffeehouses in the Ottoman Empire and throughout Europe, where people could congregate and discuss ideas in an atmosphere conducive to (literally) stimulated conversation. Coffeehouses were associated with the plotting of insurrection in the Ottoman Empire and of both the American and French Revolutions, for example.
Coffee is one of the most common delivery systems for drugs in the world. Its caffeine stimulates the brain, improving one's focus. It is also a diuretic, washing out the kidneys. When taken in large quantities, the stimulant causes irregular heartbeat, uncontrollable shaking, and dehydration. Despiter because ofhese characteristics, by the beginning of the sixteenth century coffee drinking was widespread in the Middle East. Its powerful physical effects, however, were such that some Muslim scholars interpreted it as being contradictory to the spirit of the Koran and tried to forbid it. Others opposed its banishment and ironically included the beverage in religious worship. (Records of the period indicate that coffee was drunk inside the Sacred Mosque in Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia.) Early accounts exist of coffee drinking, ostensibly for the purpose of staying awake to pray and chant, during the evenings of the one-month fasting of Ramadan.
Coffee is also associated with superstitions and rituals. For example, not unlike tea leaf reading by Chinese fortune tellers, Turkish fortune tellers use the finished cup of coffeehich contains both liquid and groundsurning it onto the saucer until cool. The cup is then turned back up, and any coffee grounds remaining in the cup are "read" as a basis for predicting the future.
From roughly the fifteenth century to the eighteenth century, coffee trade was monopolized by the Yemenis. The English and the Dutch traded with the Arabs at the major trading port of Mocha in Yemen for nearly half a century before they found a way to break the Arab monopoly. Ultimately Dutch smugglers stole beans from Mocha, carrying them to colonial Java in Indonesia for propagation. Through the Dutch act of pilferage, Indonesian coffee plantations came to produce an arabica bean popularly known as "Java." (Eventually this bean was described by connoisseurs as among the finest arabica available.) The Dutch also sent beans back to Amsterdam for propagation in greenhouses. In short order coffee propagation and drinking spread rapidly throughout the Western Hemisphere and the European colonies. In an act of repilferage, for example, the French king Louis XIV engineered the theft of plants from Amsterdam, and these plants eventually were responsible for the development of coffee plantations in French colonial Martinique. In 1723 the coffee business was born of a coffee bush originating in Martinique and eventually engendered a New World coffee industry that by the twentieth century was responsible for 90 percent of coffee production internationally.
The early to mid-seventeenth century saw the rapid spread of coffee consumption throughout Europe, especially northern Europe, resulting in a significant demand. The possibility of financial fortunes along with the possibilities of lucrative taxes and perceived medical benefits made for both free market and government-encouraged spread of cultivation in tropical and subtropical climes across the globe.
Cultivation spread throughout Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Brazil. The first Brazilian coffee bush was planted in 1727, for example, and it was cultivated by slave labor. While the crop experienced a somewhat slow beginning there, by the end of the nineteenth century Brazil's coffee-growing industry was profitable. By the early twenty-first century Brazil was the world's largest coffee exporting nation with Vietnam running second.
Coffee and its patterns of consumption were historically linked to politics as well as perceived curative and stimulant benefits. Originally coffee was enjoyed almost exclusively in coffeehouses, which were founded as specialty shops for the purpose of selling coffee by enticing traders to try the new beverage. The first coffeehouse (or café) opened in Constantinople in 1555, and within a few years the city counted hundreds of such establishments. In rapid turn the coffeehouse became a place for socializing. Paralleling the social patterns of teahouses in China, coffeehouses became meeting places for casual conversation and business and political discussions, including revolutionary
Political mechanisms proved inadequate to stem rising enthusiasm for coffee and coffeehouses, however. Great profit centers, coffeehouses were often built in extravagant styles, imparting a social caché to the beverage. Spread by war and commerce, coffeehouses opened in European capitals throughout the early to late seventeenth century, increasing the beverage's popularity and supporting demand.
While coffee was a sort of luxury beverage at first, by the eighteenth century even less-fortunate Europeans could enjoy it (or some adulterated version of it) through sales by street hawkers. Innkeepers also made it part of their family-style menus, and some food historians link the introduction of coffee to creating the sequencing of a meal. In the mido late eighteenth century North American colonials drank coffee increasingly as a sort of protest against high British taxes on tea. Free to trade after independence (1776), Americans imported coffee initially from Haiti and Martinique, then Portugal and Brazil. By the mid-nineteenth century Americans consumed an average of over six pounds per capita annually. To a large extent the commercialization, mechanization, marketing, and democratization of coffee in North America evolved the beverage in modern times. The nineteenth century also saw the introduction of the drink in various styles, including Italian espresso (a concentrated one-ounce liquid), cappuccino (a "long" espresso with frothed milk), French café au lait or Spanish café con leche (strong coffee with plenty of hot milk), or iced coffee with or without milk. Other popular combinations are Irish coffee, which includes whiskey and Baileys Irish Cream, and Vietnamese or Thai coffees, in which sweet condensed milk is added.
Coffee can be "pure," using either the arabica or robusta bean, or it can be a blend of the two. One of the oldest blends simply combines various proportions of robusta and arabica beans, making the resulting item either more smooth or more bitter. Some of the more innovative blends include hazelnut and vanilla flavorings, these tied to the late twentieth-century, principally American interest in "gourmet" coffees. While for hundreds of years coffee consumers in Europe purchased a brewed cup of the beverage for quick consumption, in the United States green beans generally were sold in bulk for home roasting. This shift from public coffeehouse to domestic brewing had a profound effect on the industry and psychology of coffee consumption. The American development essentially stripped coffee of its political import, making it a modern commodity.
In other North American developments, at the end of the American Civil War, San Francisco's Folger's Coffee company gave customers a choice, offering both traditional green coffee beans and the more efficient and time-saving roasted beans. A new industry was born, and the tendency toward efficiency and rapid brewing was exacerbated. The Maxwell House company soon followed in Folger's footsteps, and in 1901 the first Maxwell House "instant" coffee came to market. This instant coffee was made by extracting water from brewed coffee and freeze-drying the remains. Other innovations followed. Decaffeinated coffee, which has significantly reduced amounts of caffeine, was made by steaming unroasted beans or by using a solvent, usually chlorine, to remove the caffeine. Because this process also removes some of the flavor from the beans, the stronger robusta variety is usually employed for decaffeinated coffees.
While coffee was added to a pot of water and boiled to produce the earliest versions of the beverage, Arab producers eventually filtered the brew through herbs to hold back the sediment. In eighteenth-century France, coffee was filtered through muslin bags, an innovative but ultimately inadequate process. The expatriate American inventor Benjamin Thompsonlso known as Count Rumfordeveloped the broadly successful metal "drip pot," and a number of other inventors developed variations on coffee-brewing devices, many of which have remained in use in the twenty-first century. In 1819, for example, the percolator was invented in which hot water rises through a tube and into an upper container and infuses coffee. The early twentieth century saw the advent of true coffee filtering devices, particularly through the development of paper filters by the German Melitta Bentz Company in 1908.
The espresso machine (from Italian caffè espresso, literally, "pressed-out coffee") is usually associated with Italy, but it was pioneered in the early nineteenth century in German and French machines that used steam to push steam through coffee grounds. The modern espresso machine, patented in Italy in early-twentieth-century Italy, was developed by Desidero Pavoni (who bought the rights to the espresso machine patent in 1905), and was dramatically improved in Italy after World War II. The hiss of the espresso machine was a common sound in the Italian caffés of San Francisco's North Beach and in New York City's Greenwich Village decades before espresso and cappuccino became fashionable around the 1980s.The difference in machines and grounds is important in the outcome of any coffee brew. For example, the espresso machine uses twice the amount of coffee as a percolator, a much finer ground of coffee, and much less water (actually steam), resulting in a dark, strong, bitter extraction. Different grinds exist for different styles of brewing. Coarse grounds are used to make filtered coffee,
Harvested, roasted, traded worldwide, and consumed by people from different walks of life, coffee has created significant social crossroads for centuries. Once a luxurious beverage, coffee is enjoyed internationally by a diverse populace. Most often a morning beverage, its popularity has soared as both an afternoon and an afterdinner beverage. Variations abound. Aside from flavored and decaffeinated coffees, bottled coffees, coffee sodas, and other drinks are available.
Embracing this trend, and operating over 5,500 stores internationally (over four thousand in the United States alone), Starbucks is the leading coffeehouse chain of the twenty-first century. It sells coffees with multiple options (would you like a slice of banana nut loaf with your iced, decaf mocha java?) at the elevated average price of $3.50 per cup in a lounge setting, and has pastries (and sometimes, sandwiches) available for purchase. This creates a comfortable atmosphere for conversation and reading, without any pressure to make a purchase and leave. Thus, since the early 1990s Starbucks has created a coffeehouse culture for the masses. With its appeal extending from corporate executives to students and housewives, it has brought the former aristocratic atmosphere into the mainstream. In this way it typifies the late-twentieth-, early-twenty-first-century "mass-class" and "leisure-time entertainment" marketing strategies. The success of Starbucks is also bolstered by its ability to extend the brand by selling T-shirts, travel mugs, and other coffee-related accessories in its stores. Starbucks also sells coffee beans and ice cream.
Coffee is not only a modern beverage but also an ingredient in desserts, including coffee ice creams, coffee gelati, and coffee-flavored cakes. Variations include the American "chimney sweep" recipe, in which vanilla ice cream is topped with powdered coffee and drizzled with a shot of whiskey. Italian tiramisu has lady fingers soaked in espresso coffee and set in a whipped mascarpone cream. In addition, an American classic dish called "Black-eyed steak" employs coffee to deglaze a cast-iron pan in which a slice of salt-cured Virginia Smithfield ham has been pan-fried; the bitter and salty jus is poured over the meat prior to serving.
See also Advertising of Food; Marketing of Food; Stimulants; Tea: Tea as an Icon Food; Tea (Meal).
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Filho, Olavo B. A fazenda de cafe em Sao Paulo. Rio de Janiero: Ministerio da Agricultura, 1952.
Guyer-Stevens, Stephanie, et al. "Starbucks: To Drink or Not to Drink?" Whole Earth, Summer (2002): 15.
Hattox, Ralph S. Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988.
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Kiple, Kenneth F., and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas. The Cambridge World History of Food. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
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Coffee (How Products are Made)
Coffee is a beverage made by grinding roasted coffee beans and allowing hot water to flow through them. Dark, flavorful, and aromatic, the resulting liquid is usually served hot, when its full flavor can best be appreciated. Coffee is served internationallyith over one third of the world's population consuming it in some form, it ranks as the most popular processed beveragend each country has developed its own preferences about how to prepare and present it. For example, coffee drinkers in Indonesia drink hot coffee from glasses, while Middle Easterners and some Africans serve their coffee in dainty brass cups. The Italians are known for their espresso, a thick brew served in tiny cups and made by dripping hot water over twice the normal quantity of ground coffee, and the French have contributed café au lait, a combination of coffee and milk or cream which they consume from bowls at breakfast.
A driving force behind coffee's global popularity is its caffeine content: a six-ounce (2.72 kilograms) cup of coffee contains 100 milligrams of caffeine, more than comparable amounts of tea (50 milligrams), cola (25 milligrams), or cocoa (15 milligrams). Caffeine, an alkaloid that occurs naturally in coffee, is a mild stimulant that produces a variety of physical effects. Because caffeine stimulates the cortex of the brain, people who ingest it experience enhanced concentration. Athletes are sometimes advised to drink coffee prior to competing, as caffeine renders skeletal muscles less susceptible to exhaustion and improves coordination. However, these benefits accrue only to those who consume small doses of the drug. Excessive amounts of caffeine produce a host of undesirable consequences, acting as a diuretic, stimulating gastric secretions, upsetting the stomach, contracting blood vessels in the brain (people who suffer from headaches are advised to cut their caffeine intake), and causing overacute sensation, irregular heartbeat, and trembling. On a more serious level, many researchers have sought to link caffeine to heart disease, benign breast cysts, pancreatic cancer, and birth defects. While such studies have proven inconclusive, health official nonetheless recommend that people limit their coffee intake to fewer than four cups daily or drink decaffeinated varieties.
Coffee originated on the plateaus of central Ethiopia. By A.D. 1000, Ethiopian Arabs were collecting the fruit of the tree, which grew wild, and preparing a beverage from its beans. During the fifteenth century traders transplanted wild coffee trees from Africa to southern Arabia. The eastern Arabs, the first to cultivate coffee, soon adopted the Ethiopian Arabs' practice of making a hot beverage from its ground, roasted beans.
The Arabs' fondness for the drink spread rapidly along trade routes, and Venetians had been introduced to coffee by 1600. In Europe as in Arabia, church and state officials frequently proscribed the new drink, identifying it with the often-liberal discussions conducted by coffee house habitués, but the institutions nonetheless proliferated, nowhere more so than in seventeenth-century London. The first coffee house opened there in 1652, and a large number of such establishments(café;s) opened soon after on both the European continent(café derives from the French term for coffee) and in North America, where they appeared in such Eastern cities as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia in the last decade of the seventeenth century.
In the United States, coffee achieved the same, almost instantaneous popularity that it had won in Europe. However, the brew favored by early American coffee drinkers tasted significantly different from that enjoyed by today's connoisseurs, as nineteenth-century cookbooks make clear. One 1844 cookbook instructed people to use a much higher coffee/water ratio than we favor today (one tablespoon per sixteen ounces); boil the brew for almost a half an hour (today people are instructed never to boil coffee); and add fish skin, isinglass (a gelatin made from the air bladders of fish), or egg shells to reduce the acidity brought out by boiling the beans so long (today we would discard overly acidic coffee). Coffee yielded from this recipe would strike modern coffee lovers as intolerably strong and acidic; moreover, it would have little aroma.
American attempts to create instant coffee began during the mid-1800s, when one of the earliest instant coffees was offered in cake form to Civil War troops. Although it and other early instant coffees tasted even worse than regular coffee of the epoch, the incentive of convenience proved strong, and efforts to manufacture a palatable instant brew continued. Finally, after using U.S. troops as testers during World War II, an American coffee manufacturer (Maxwell House) began marketing the first successful instant coffee in 1950.
At present, 85 percent of Americans begin their day by making some form of the drink, and the average American will consume three cups of it over the course of the day.
Coffee comes from the seed, or bean, of the coffee tree. Coffee beans contain more than 100 chemicals including aromatic molecules, proteins, starches, oils, and bitter phenols (acidic compounds), each contributing a different characteristic to the unique flavor of coffee. The coffee tree, a member of the evergreen family, has waxy, pointed leaves and jasmine-like flowers. Actually more like a shrub, the coffee tree can grow to more than 30 feet (9.14 meters) in its wild state, but in cultivation it is usually trimmed to between five and 12 feet (1.5 and 3.65 meters). After planting, the typical tree will not produce coffee beans until it blooms, usually about five years. After the white petals drop off, red cherries form, each with two green coffee beans inside. (Producing mass quantities of beans requires a large number of trees: in one year, a small bush will yield only enough beans for a pound of coffee.) Because coffee berries do not ripen uniformly, careful harvesting requires picking only the red ripe berries: including unripened green ones and overly ripened black ones will affect the coffee taste.
Coffee trees grow best in a temperate climate without frost or high temperatures. They also seem to thrive in fertile, well-drained soil; volcanic soil in particular seems conducive to flavorful beans. High altitude plantations located between 3,000 and 6,000 feet (914.4 and 1,828.8 meters) above sea level produce low-moisture beans with more flavor. Due to the positive influences of volcanic soil and altitude, the finest beans are often cultivated in mountainous regions. Today, Brazil produces about half of the world's coffee. One quarter is produced elsewhere in Latin America, and Africa contributes about one sixth of the global supply.
Currently, about 25 types of coffee trees exist, the variation stemming from environmental factors such as soil, weather, and altitude. The two main species are coffea robusta and coffea arabica. The robusta strain produces less expensive beans, largely because it can be grown under less ideal conditions than the arabica strain. When served, coffee made from arabica beans has a deep reddish cast, whereas robusta brews tend to be dark brown or black in appearance. The coffees made from the two commonly used beans differ significantly. Robusta beans are generally grown on large plantations where the berries ripen and are harvested at one time, thereby increasing the percentage of under- and over-ripe beans. Arabica beans, on the other hand, comprise the bulk of the premium coffees that are typically sold in whole bean form so purchasers can grind their own coffee. Whether served in a coffee house or prepared at home, coffee made from such beans offers a more delicate and less acidic flavor.
The Manufacturing Process
Drying and husking the cherries
- 1 First, the coffee cherries must be harvested, a process that is still done manually. Next, the cherries are dried and husked using one of two methods. The dry method is an older, primitive, and labor-intensive process of distributing the cherries in the sun, raking them several times a day, and allowing them to dry. When they have dried to the point at which they contain only 12 percent water, the beans' husks become shriveled. At this stage they are hulled, either by hand or by a machine.
- 2 In employing the wet method, the hulls are removed before the beans have dried. Although the fruit is initially processed in a pulping machine that removes most of the material surrounding the beans, some of this glutinous covering remains after pulping. This residue is removed by letting the beans ferment in tanks, where their natural enzymes digest the gluey substance over a period of 18 to 36 hours. Upon removal from the fermenting tank, the beans are washed, dried by exposure to hot air, and put into large mechanical stirrers called hullers. There, the beans' last parchment covering, the pergamino, crumbles and falls away easily. The huller then polishes the bean to a clean, glossy finish.
Cleaning and grading the beans
- 3 The beans are then placed on a conveyor belt that carries them past workers who remove sticks and other debris. Next, they are graded according to size, the location and altitude of the plantation where they were grown, drying and husking methods, and taste. All these factors contribute to certain flavors that consumers will be able to select thanks in part to the grade.
- 4 Once these processes are completed, workers select and pack particular types and grades of beans to fill orders from the various roasting companies that will finish preparing the beans. When beans (usually robusta) are harvested under the undesirable conditions of hot, humid countries or coastal regions, they must be shipped as quickly as possible, because such climates encourage insects and fungi that can severely damage a shipment.
- 5 When the coffee beans arrive at a roasting plant, they are again cleaned and sorted by mechanical screening devices to remove leaves, bark, and other remaining debris. If the beans are not to be decaffeinated, they are ready for roasting.
- 6 If the coffee is to be decaffeinated, it is now processed using either a solvent or a water method. In the first process, the coffee beans are treated with a solvent (usually methylene chloride) that leaches out the caffeine. If this decaffeination method is used, the beans must be thoroughly washed to remove traces of the solvent prior to roasting. The other method entails steaming the beans to bring the caffeine to the surface and then scraping off this caffeine-rich layer.
- 7 The beans are roasted in huge commercial roasters according to procedures and specifications which vary among manufacturers (specialty shops usually purchase beans directly from the growers and roast them on-site). The most common process entails placing the beans in a large metal cylinder and blowing hot air into it. An older method, called singeing, calls for placing the beans in a metal cylinder that is then rotated over an electric, gas, or charcoal heater.
Regardless of the particular method used, roasting gradually raises the temperature of the beans to between 431 and 449 degrees Fahrenheit (220-230 degrees Celsius). This triggers the release of steam, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other volatiles, reducing the weight of the beans by 14 to 23 percent. The pressure of these escaping internal gases causes the beans to swell, and they increase their volume by 30 to 100 percent. Roasting also darkens the color of the beans, gives them a crumbly texture, and triggers the chemical reactions that imbue the coffee with its familiar aroma (which it has not heretofore possessed).
- 8 After leaving the roaster, the beans are placed in a cooling vat, wherein they are stirred while cold air is blown over them. If the coffee being prepared is high-quality, the cooled beans will now be sent through an electronic sorter equipped to detect and eliminate beans that emerged from the roasting process too light or too dark.
- 9 If the coffee is to be pre-ground, the manufacturer mills it immediately after roasting. Special types of grinding have been developed for each of the different types of coffee makers, as each functions best with coffee ground to a specific fineness.
- 10 If the coffee is to be instant, it is I V brewed with water in huge percolators after the grinding stage. An extract is clarified from the brewed coffee and sprayed into a large cylinder. As it falls downward through this cylinder, it enters a warm air stream that converts it into a dry powder.
- 11 Because it is less vulnerable to flavor and aroma loss than other types of coffee, whole bean coffee is usually packaged in foil-lined bags. If it is to retain its aromatic qualities, pre-ground coffee must be hermetically sealed: it is usually packaged in impermeable plastic film, aluminum foil, or cans. Instant coffee picks up moisture easily, so it is vacuum-packed in tin cans or glass jars before being shipped to retail stores.
Methylene chloride, the solvent used to decaffeinate beans, has come under federal scrutiny in recent years. Many people charge that rinsing the beans does not completely remove the chemical, which they suspect of being harmful to human health. Although the Food and Drug Administration has consequently ruled that methylene chloride residue cannot exceed 10 parts per million, the water method of decaffeination has grown in popularity and is expected to replace solvent decaffeination completely.
Where To Learn More
Davids, Kenneth. Coffee. 101 Productions, 1987.
"More Fun With Coffee." National Coffee Association.
"The Story of Good Coffee from the Pacific Northwest." Starbucks Coffee Company.
"From Tree to Bean to Cup," Consumer Reports. September, 1987, p. 531.
Globus, Paul. "This Little bean is Big Business," Reader's Digest (Canadian), March, 1986, p. 35.
Coffee (Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior)
Coffee is the world's most common source of CAFFEINE, providing a little more than half of all caffeine consumed daily. In the United States, coffee is usually a beverage made by percolation or infusion from the roasted and ground or pounded seeds of the coffee tree (genus Coffea), a large evergreen shrub or small tree, which was native to Africa but now is grown widely in warm regions for commercial crops. Caffeine from coffee accounts for an estimated 125 milligrams of the 211 milligrams of U.S. caffeine consumed per capita per day. Recent estimates suggest that more than 50 percent of the adolescents and adults in the United States consume some type of coffee beverage. Coffee is one of the main natural commodities in international trade, ranking second only to petroleum in dollar value. Approximately fifty countries export coffee and virtually all of those countries rely on it as a major source of foreign exchange. An estimated 25 million people make their living in the production and distribution of coffee products.
In addition to caffeine, roasted coffee contains at least 610 other chemical substances, which may contribute to its smell, taste, and physiological effects. Nevertheless, coffee's primary psychoactive ingredient is caffeine. The amount of caffeine in an individual cup of coffee varies considerably, depending on the type and amount of coffee used, the form of the final coffee product (e.g., ground roasted or instant), and the method and length of brewing. On average, a 6-ounce (177 milliliters) cup of ground roasted coffee contains about 100 milligrams caffeine; the same amount of instant coffee typically contains about 70 milligrams caffeine. However, the caffeine content of any given 6-ounce cup of coffee can vary considerably and can reach as much as 210 milligrams. Drip coffee
Coffee cultivation probably began around 600 A.D. in Ethiopia, but the drink was spread into the Middle East and Europe. Today, much of the world's coffee is grown in South and Central America, particularly Brazil and Colombia, and in several African countries. Coffee beverages derive primarily from the seeds of two species of Coffea plants, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora var. robusta. Robusta coffees contain approximately twice as much caffeine as Arabicas. Arabica beans are used in the majority of the coffee consumed today, particularly in the higher quality coffees. Since processing for instant and decaffeinated coffee extracts flavor components from the bean, the stronger flavored beans, typically Robusta beans, are used for these coffee products. Caffeine extracted in the decaffeination process is sold for use in soft drinks and medications.
The coffee bean, covered with several layers of skin and pulp, occupies the center of the coffee berry. During the first part of coffee production, the outer layers of the coffee berry are removed, leaving a green coffee bean. The beans are then roasted, removing between 14 and 20 percent of their water and changing their color from green to various shades of brown; generally, the beans get darker as more water is extracted. The beans are then ground and ready for use. To produce instant coffee, roasted and ground coffee is percolated to produce an aqueous coffee extract. That extract is dehydrated by spray or freeze-drying to produce water-soluble coffee extract solids. Since this process removes flavor and aroma from the coffee, compounds are added to the extracts at the completion of the process to restore the lost characteristics.
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ROLAND R. GRIFFITHS