Added On: Friday, December 28, 2007

Coffee Facts

Cupping is a method of systematically evaluating the aroma and taste of coffee beans. It is often used by growers, buyers and roasters to assess the quality of a particular coffee sample. Proper cupping requires the adherence to an exacting set of brewing standards and a formal step-by-step evaluation process. A trained cupper generally looks at six characteristics:
  • Fragrance - the smell of beans after grinding
  • Aroma - the smell of ground-up beans after being steeped in water
  • Taste - the flavor of the coffee
  • Nose - the vapors released by the coffee in the mouth
  • Aftertaste - the vapors and flavors that remain after swallowing
  • Body - the feel of the coffee in the mouth
The way in which coffee is roasted can have a profound effect its taste. Roast too quickly at too high a temperature, and you'll scorch the exterior of the bean. Roast too slowly at too low a temperature, and you'll sap the bean of its of flavor. Over the years, numerous roasting methods have been developed to address these challenges, all with the same objective: To transfer heat to the coffee bean, initiating a series of chemical reactions that prepare it for consumption. Most roasting methods include the following six phases:

1. Drying Cycle:
This is the first phase of the roasting process,
when the temperature of the beans rises to 100 degrees centigrade. Also in this phase, the beans change from a bright green color to a pale yellow.
2. First Crack:
When the beans reach 160 degrees centigrade, complex chemical reactions begin to occur causing a cracking sound.
3. Roast Initiation:
The beans swell to 140 - 160% of their initial size. Elements within the beans begin to caramelize, giving the beans their brown color.
4. Pause:
In this phase, the audible cracking ceases, but the reactions continue. The time of this silence will depend on the amount of heat applied by the roaster.
5. Second Crack:
The progressive dehydration of the beans has made them brittle. As a result, more cracking can be heard. It is at this stage that elements in the bean begin to carbonize, producing the burnt characteristics of extremely dark roasts.
6. Stopping the Roast
Once the optimal amount of roasting time has elapsed, the beans must be cooled quickly. This is usually accomplished by introducing large amounts of cool air or water.

Proper brewing enhances the taste of coffee by allowing you to extract the proper amount of flavor from the bean. There are six essential elements of good brewing:

1. Correct Coffee-to-Water Ratio:
Because coffee is a strong flavoring agent, it takes relatively little to produce a robust brew. The generally accepted ratio is 1.0 - 1.5% coffee to 98.5 - 99% water.
2. A Coffee Grind That Matches the Brewing Time:
To prevent under- or over-extracting the flavor from the beans, you must match the right particle size (grind) with the right brewing time. In general, longer brewing times should be paired with larger particles and shorter brewing times with smaller particles.
3. Properly Operating Brewing Equipment:
Because your brewing equipment controls the coffee's contact with the water, it is important that it be precisely calibrated and well maintained. In particular, you should pay attention to the length of the brewing process, the temperature of the water and the amount of mixing (turbulence).
4. Optimum Brewing Method:
To achieve the flavor you desire, you must first choose the right brewing method. There are six basic methods of brewing: Steeping, Decoction, Percolation, Drip Filtration, Vacuum Filtration and Pressurized Infusion.
5. High-Quality Water:
In general, water that contains 50 - 100 parts per million of dissolved minerals will produce the best-tasting coffee.
6. An Appropriate Filtering Medium:
A well-made filter is essential to clarify the beverage and separate the extract from the coffee grounds.

Espresso is a coffee beverage prepared using water under pressure and served in a preheated demitasse cup. When made correctly, espresso has a top layer of golden foam, known as crema.

Traditionally, espresso is prepared by a master coffee maker, or barista. To enhance the quality of espresso, a trained barista is generally concerned with four things:
  • The Machine:
    Because the espresso machine controls the temperature and pressure of the water as it passes through the coffee, it is important that it be clean and in good working order.

  • The Blend:
    A blend is any combination of "single-origin" coffees. Because few single-origin coffees provide all the flavors and aromas necessary for good espresso, baristas often blend several coffees together to achieve the taste they desire.

  • The Grinder/Doser:
    The coffee grinder/doser crushes the beans into small particles for brewing. However, there is no "ideal" particle size; the barista must decide how coarse to make the ground in order to achieve the flavor desired.

  • The Hand:
    The skill of the operator is of great importance in espresso making - even with today's technically advanced machines.



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