It is believed that coffee has been around as early as the eighth century, originating from one of the mountainous regions of Ethiopia. The discovery of the coffee berries unearthed in that area soon spread to Yemen where it is said that a mystic survived in the desert he was exiled in by brewing and consuming a broth made out of the berries. The 10th century ushered in a very popular drink made from soaking the berries in water, and quickly grew and spread to other areas. The ancient Ethiopian tribesmen fashioned small round balls from ripe red coffee berries, wrapped them in animal fat, and consumed them on long journeys for sustenance and a boost in energy.
The Arabian Peninsula was known to have coffee trees by 1100, and by 1500 coffee houses were sprouting up and becoming very commonplace in Arabia; and by 1600 Dutch traders from New Amsterdam brought coffee to America. As coffee made its way through time and space, the enticing brew has become so much more than soaked coffee beans, as tastes matured, as different varieties became readily available, and knowledge and different processing methods developed, coffee is largely one of the most consumed beverages the world over.
Fast forward a bit, a latte for some is coffee with lots of milk, for others, it is coffee with steamed milk, with a shot of espresso. Cappuccino for some is coffee with steamed milk or foamed milk, whipped topping, cinnamon, chocolate, or different spices to suit your taste with a shot of espresso, and Frappuccino is typically a blended iced latte. A latte macchiato is also called caffe latte, as it is known in Italy. A macchiato drink can be as exotic as you like with different flavorings added, such as caramel, etc. since macchiato means “marked” in Italian, your coffee, for example, becomes coffee marked with caramel. Now there is café mocha, which is espresso with chocolate syrup, steamed milk, maybe froth, or whipped cream, and any number of toppings of your choice. Still confused, there is frappe which is similar to a coffee milkshake or foam covered iced coffee, and there is the Americano, which is espresso with hot water brewed to the desired strength with crema. The blends and combinations are only limited by your imagination.
However your personal taste dictates how your coffee ends up in your cup, it starts out as a seed of a fruit, the coffee bean, or “cherries,” are grown at different elevations, and different regions and parts of the world. Coffee beans grown at a much higher elevation are referred to as Arabicas, because of the distinct quality and flavor the higher elevation produces, Arabicas are typically used for special and espresso blends; and the beans grown as the lower elevations are referred to as Robusta, the typical commercial grade coffee that is found in grocery stores.
The blends and exotic coffee flavors are further created by how the coffee is roasted, the length of time and the equipment that is used, the temperature, as well as the quantity of coffee that is roasted at a time. Many may be familiar with Italian and French Roast, with Italian being very dark almost black, soaked well with oil, aromatic and less acidic, and French a very dark brown, and not as much oil as Italian, resulting in a smoky, pungent bittersweet taste. The more common roasting practice known as full city roast, results in the full development of the flavor of the coffee bean, with little hints of oil on the beans, resulting in chocolaty to caramel flavors, even with a slight smoky taste. Then there is the espresso roast, a method that differs greatly from the others, a treat that will take you down coffee lane, for a memorable journey as you explore the different coffees of the world.
A few of the many facets of the complex world of coffee are the acidity, aroma, and body of coffee. When the natural acid that is found in coffee is properly balanced during the roasting process, the result is very pleasing to the palate; the flavor or aroma of coffee, much like wine, absorbs the flavor from the soil and environment of where it is grown, and depending on the different variables during the growing process, the coffee flavors can be nutty, spicy, buttery, earthy, smoky, etc.; and not to be overlooked is that almost velvety, syrupy, delicious quality people enjoy in coffee is known as the body or texture of the coffee.
As you explore, enjoy, and travel through the coffee world, your experience will be like none other, as this wondrous oftentimes enticing brew will capture your attention and draw you in for another latte, frappuccino, or cappuccino, or whatever tantalizing creation captivates you just one more time.