Types Of Coffee. Are You Kidding Me?
The goal of the devoted coffee lover is to find the best coffee in the world. This is the type of coffee connoisseur who has purchased a personal espresso machine and coffee grinder and is now in search of the best coffee possible. This is no simple task as a trip to any speciality coffe store will reveal..
The wine connoisseur has a much simpler task. Wine is pretty much a finished product when purchased and if properly stored will improve with age. Before making a purchase he can usually look over a label on any bottle of wine and pretty much know exactly what he is buying.
The wine label will reveal not only which country the wine is from but also the region and village. Usually the label will also list the year the grapes were grown and bottled. Compare this to the task at hand for the specialty coffee buyer.
First of all the name given a coffee may not actually detail the exact region in which it was grown. The location where coffee is grown can be extremely important because different locations and elevations have a major effect on the finished bean and so the finished cup of coffee.
Additionally there is much more interaction in the travels of beans from grower to customer. Wine is processed, bottled and shipped and that is the majority of activity from vineyard to customer.
Coffee on the other hand begins it's journey with the manner in which the beans are processed. The two major methods are the washed and dried method. In the first the beans are soaked in large vats to loosen the shell and then processed through a mill to remove the outer hull and inner skin. Once dried and sorted and sometimes polished, they are bagged and shipped.
In the dry method the beans are spread out to dry in the sunlight and may be kept in that position for several weeks. This loosens the hull. The beans are then picked up and run through a mill and then bagged. There are those who feel that this last process results in the beans containing traces of unwanted material including waste from the shells and bits of the plant and also soil from the drying floor. These beans are the type usually used to produce blended commercial coffees.
Once the beans are shipped they may be roasted and ground which adds additional processing that the coffee buyer will be interested in. The bulk bean buyer will complete these last two processes himself and will not need this information. However consider what the coffee buyer will face.
The first concern is the coffee names. A good specialty shop may have 30 or more varieties each with a name and some with aliases. A little study will reveal that these names could refer to degree the bean was roasted, the origin of the beans before roasting or the dealer's given name for a particular blend of beans.
You might encounter European, French, Italian, Vienese and other names. These names reflect the length of time the beans were roasted. You may encounter names such as Dark Roast Colombian specifying the beans roasting and origin.
Then one must be concerned with straight or blended coffees. The straight varieties come from a single crop in a single country. Blended on the other hand as the term implies are made from beans from more than one country.
There are thousands of regions and sub-regions in the world which produce coffee. Fortunately only a few of these are common to the specialty coffee retailer. Names may define a district, province, or state. Some might define a mountain range or other landmark. Some are given the names of the port through which they were shipped.
To add additional confusion some coffee labels might suggest a grade name. Grading is used as a means of controlling the quality of agricultural commodities. With coffee the gradinCredit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/97519g can be rather obscure. You may encounter grades of AA, A and B scales which are understandable but local language scales can add confusion. Columbian coffees for instance have grades such as “supremo” and “excelso”.
The altitude the plants are grown in are important in grading Central American coffees. Guatemalan coffees use terms such as “strictly hard bean” to designate altitudes of 4,500 to 5,000 feet
and “hard bean” 4,000 to 5,000 feet.
The Best Coffee In The World Will Be Properly Roasted
One of the most important processes in the production of specialty coffee is the roast. Longer roasting times will result in darker beans which will give the finished cup more tangy or bittersweet taste. Longer roasting times can reduce the amount of acid and lower caffeine levels somewhat. Common names for various roasts are Viennese, French, and Italian with sub classes of each. Home roasting is becoming more popular as coffee lovers decide they want as much control over their coffee as possible.
The various grinds are not so complex and the system you use to brew your coffee will determine how fine your beans should be ground. Finer grinds will normally expose more area to the water during brewing but grinding too fine will cause problems with clogging filters or other coffee systems. In addition grinding so fine that the product ends up power like can destroy essential oils necessary for proper aroma and flavor. Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/145291
At first glance it would seem that the journey to the best coffee in the world is a difficult one. One of the best methods to make the best choices after a little study would be to find a specialty coffee dealer who can offer guidance. In reality you will most likely choose a few beans or ground coffee that offers the aroma and flavor you desire and while enjoying your favorite brew you will be encouraged to further your study of this most mysterious yet satisfying passion for enjoying the best coffee in the world.
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