World of coffee
Coffee does not consist of one flavour compound but hundreds that give it its aroma, acidity, and body.
AROMA – Signals the taste of the coffee to come and causes a level of anticipation before actually tasting it. The fresher the coffee, the more aromatic it will be.
FLAVOR- Conveys any specific taste that is present such as “nutty”, “spicy”, or “smoky”. It is the perception of the aromatic elements once it hits the taste buds.
ACIDITY- A pleasant sharpness giving life and brightness to a coffee. Without it, the coffee will be flat and dull. A rounded, mellow, smooth taste will lack high acidity. Too much acidity will make it sour.
BODY- The “mouth feel” of a coffee. It is the richness and heaviness and thickness of the brew. Full bodied coffee will have the above qualities as opposed to a watery, thin coffee by too much water in brewing.
History of coffee
Legend has it that the first coffea arabica tree was discovered by a ninth-century Ethiopian shepherd named Kladi. Noting that his goats were wildly rambunctious after they ate the berries from an unfamiliar tree, Kaldi sampled a few. Before long, everyone in Ethiopia was chewing coffee berries. It was not until four hundred years later that someone finally thought to roast the beans inside the berries and make a hot drink from them. By the fifteenth century Arabia was cultivating coffee trees in Yemen and exporting them across the Levant. Western travelers to the Levant began returning with reports of an exotic “black water” that had arousing medicinal powers. When Venetian traders brought the first coffee beans into Europe during the early 1600’s, the drink won instant favour. As coffee perked its way across Europe, the first coffeehouses opened in Venice, Marseilles, Oxford, London and Paris. The coffee houses served as centers of social and literary life. Fearing that the coffee houses were brewing vice and subversion, several rulers made unsuccessful efforts to suppress them. Charles II tried to close down the cafes in England, but was met with fiery protests. Coffee was brought to America with the European immigrants. From its humble origins in Ethiopia, coffee has grown to become a vast economic and cultural force. The requirements of botany, temperature and altitude mean that the best Arabica coffee comes from tropical countries with high planes or mountains and an adequate water supply. The coffee industry is the world’s largest in terms of manpower, employing over 25 million people worldwide in its cultivation and production. After oil, it is the world’s most traded commodity, representing a vital source of income for many Third World countries.
Some of the world’s most expensive and bizarre coffees, such as the Kopi Luak, are not picked by people at all. The luak is a small cat-like creature which likes nothing better than to prowl around a Sumatran coffee plantation at night, selecting the finest, ripest coffee berries to eat. Naturally it finds the stone of the coffee berry – the bean – indigestible, and the results are there for all to see the next morning. Fermentation inside the luak’s stomach imparts a distinctive and much sought-after taste to the coffee beans after they have been cleaned and roasted.
Every coffee has particular characteristics, but there are taste generalizations for the three major coffee-growing regions that can be helpful to keep in mind:
Latin American coffees are known for their clean “mouth feel” and slightly sweet, lively acidity. In some coffees, the acidity sparkles clearly above the other flavor components; in others, it provides a subtle but crisp accent.
African and Arabian coffees often have sweet flavors reminiscent of the aroma of a bowl of fresh fruit. Flavors from these regions range from mellow and winelike to zesty and citrusy.
Coffees from the Pacific region are generally rich and full-bodied, with nutty and earthy flavors. Most can be described as smooth in acidity with a slightly dry finish.
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