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| Written by Miles Spencer

Coffee-Direct Recommends – "Story of…Coffee"

Coffee

You may have been watching the Story of… series on Netflix, which now includes a fascinating episode on our favourite drink: Story of…Coffee.

This coffee-loving episode takes a deep dive into the world of coffee, looking at everything from how coffees are produced and the history of coffee cultivation, to coffee traditions and cultures, the roasting process and the ways in which coffee producers taste and evaluate coffee.


Some Key Coffee Facts…
There were some great snippets of coffee information that we find especially interesting:

  • 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world every day!
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on the planet, after oil
  • Coffee production provides more than 25 million farmers in developing nations with their economic livelihoods
  • The entire world’s coffee supply is grown along the equatorial zone, between 25 degrees north and 30 degrees south.
  • This growing area, known as the “Bean Belt”, is located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and includes the world’s top coffee producing countries: Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Islands of the Pacific and the Caribbean.

The Early Years of Coffee…

Coffee Cherry

The episode looked at the history of coffee, from the first known references to the bean being used to create a beverage, to the movement of coffee across the world.

It is known that, from as early as the mid-1400s, Ethiopian tribes in the South of the country were mixing dried coffee husks with hot water to create a beverage known as “buno”, which is seen by many to be the origin of modern coffee.


How Coffee Is Roasted…

Coffee Roasting

The harvest and production of coffee is just the start of its journey from cherry to beverage. The roasting process is just as important as any other stage of coffee production, and Story of… looked into this in some interesting detail.

The Process…
Once coffee beans are dried and processed, roasting transforms the green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans we use to create our favourite drinks. This process, known as pyrolysis, is what creates the much-loved aromas and flavours of the coffee we drink.

Roasting tends to be done in the country in which the coffee beans are produced, so that freshly roasted beans reach consumers as quickly as possible.

A drum inside the roasting machine is used to tumble beans around in heated air, with this heated air performing the roasting process. It’s the job of experienced roasters to be able to gauge how far along in the roasting process a batch of beans are, based on colour, aroma and the temperature of the machine interior during the roasting process.

After roasting, coffee beans will be at temperatures of around 200-210 degrees Celsius. Beans are then cooled by large fans on a cooling tray, ideally within three or four minutes. Once cooled, the roasted beans may be blended with other varieties, or packaged as a single variety ‘origin’ coffee.


How to Taste Coffee…

Coffee Tasting

In order to determine what makes a great cup of coffee, roasters need to know what to look for (as well as taste and smell for!)

Story of…Coffee looked into some of the key attributes that are assessed during coffee tasting:

Sweetness
This does not refer as such to a sugar-like sweetness, but rather a pleasing sweet quality that is found in many quality coffees. A sweetness in coffee is present when the coffee cherries are harvested at the peak of ripeness.

Acidity
Acidity in coffees refers to a fresh, juicy quality. The higher grown a coffee is, the more acidity it will likely have.
Acidity is a good characteristic in coffee when not too overpowering, but if a coffee shows all acidity and no sweetness, this imbalance will not be very pleasing to a drinker.

Mouthfeel
This refers to whether a coffee is light or heavy (think skimmed milk or whole milk for a good comparison). An important characteristic, mouthfeel can vary based on how dry the beans were during production, with very dry roasted beans usually resulting in a heavier coffee.

Bitterness
Often referred to as ‘strength’, bitterness in coffee is based on how dark the roast is, with darker, longer roasted coffees showing less sweetness and acidity, and more bitterness.

Aroma
A fundamental attribute for coffee, aroma is perhaps most noticeable in its absence; try a coffee made from instant coffee granules and you’re unlikely to experience any of the wonderful, complex aromas that you will find with a freshly roasted coffee bean.


The Gaggia Espresso Machine…

Gaggia

We were thrilled to see the infamous Gaggia espresso machine get a mention in the episode, which rightly cites the invention of the machine as a key point in the development of coffee culture in Europe and the world over.

The Italian-made Gaggia espresso machine was revolutionary in its design and helped to make espresso the most important drink in the world of coffee.

We stock our own range of Gaggia espresso machines and bean-to-cup machines at Coffee-Direct, so you can take a look and find out why Story of…Coffee chose to celebrate this iconic piece of coffee history and culture.