What Is Coffee?
How is Coffee Processed?
Coffee beans come from the seeds of the coffea plants typically found in the “coffee belt.” The Belt is the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The coffea arabica makes up for about 80% of the coffee we consume, while the remaining 20% come from the coffea canephora/robusta.
The coffea plants will grow 32 – 39 feet tall and when the drupes of the plants ripen they are harvested for the beans inside. Each drupe (fruits with a fleshy outside and seeds inside – think peaches!) typically contains two coffee beans which will face each other and give them that one flat side. Sometimes only one coffee seed is fertilized in the drupe and these are called peaberry; these have no other seed to flatten against and end up with more of a oval or pea-shape.
The harvested seeds, or beans, are then roasted according to taste. Increasing the time/temperature will cause the beans to begin to crack and the oil to emerge from the center. This is why lighter roast coffees tend to have drier beans, and darker roast coffees will often have an oily bean.
The acidity of the coffee increases as the roast goes on until about the full city roast; after that the acidity is roasted out of the bean. The body and aroma of the coffee will increase.
How is Coffee Processed?
Caffeine is a weird thing to measure because naturally occuring caffeine (as is found in coffee and tea) isn’t a “thing” we can scoop into a beverage. It’s already there; It’s a stimulant.
That being said science has been awesome and has broken it down for us.
Coffee from the coffea arabica contains about half as much caffeine as the coffea robusta. Many people are surprised to find out that darker coffees usually have a little less caffeine in them than the typical medium roast; this is because the roasting process basically sizzles it out.
Drip coffees will have about 115-175 mg of caffeine per serving, and espressos will have about 100 mg per serving. Here I reveal to you that while beans used for espresso are typically dark and oily from the roast it is not a type of bean. Espresso is how the coffee is prepared and served. It is stronger than a typical drip coffee not because of the caffeine but because of the body and the water-to-coffee proportion. A very small amount of water is forced through the grounds relatively quickly in order to make the espresso. A drip coffee may not have as much of the caffeine roasted out of it, and the water is poured onto the grounds, soaks through, and drips out the bottom. Because the water spends a longer amount of time with the coffee it’s able to soak up it’s contents more. The process and the roast are what give drip the higher amount of caffeine.
Brew processes that take longer than the typical drip, like a French press, will let the grounds soak into the water even longer and will create a richer, bolder flavor.
What Coffees We Use