Apr 25, 2018

A cup of coffee: History, origins and more behind the world’s greatest beverage!


Thomas Jefferson once called Coffee the favourite drink of the civilized world. Civilized or not, it’s something that has been ingrained into global culture over the course of centuries. Whether it’s home brewed coffee, Starbucks or anything else, it’s become a day-to-day essential! 

The process of coffee classification

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Green Coffee Classification is widely considered the best method to classify coffees. That’s because it takes better account of the relationship between defects and cup quality. This is not to say that it's perfect, but it is still the flag-bearer of standards for coffee. 


SCAA's Green Coffee Classification is categorized into:


Speciality Grade[1]- There cannot be more than 5 defects in 300 grams of coffee nor any primary defects. There also must be a unique quality present in terms of the body, flavour, aroma or acidity. It must be free of faults or taints.


Premium Grade[2] -There cannot be more than 8 defects in 300 grams, but primary defects are allowed. There has to be one unique attribute and it must be free of faults.


Exchange Grade[3] -Mid-range coffee, which is allowed to have up to 5 times the defects of Grade 1 coffee. The beans are permitted to have size inconsistencies and also 5 times the quantity of unripe berries as Grade 1.


Below Standard Coffee Grade[4] -24-86 full defects in 300 grams are allowed. It has 5-17 times more defects than Grade 1 coffee. 


Off Grade Coffee[5] - There are more than 86 defects in 300 grams. It has more than 17 times the defects than Grade 1 coffee! 


The effects of roasting coffee:


When coffee is roasted, the process involves the beans being altered by temperature, gas, electricity and wood, among other reactants. When roasted, the beans reach a level where they crackle. The amount they crack depends on the lightness or darkness of the beans. Natural roasting has a huge role to play in the final taste of the coffee.


There are four types of roasting:


1) Light Roasting


Light roasting is considered the "purest" form of roasting coffee. Light roasting coffee is stopped the moment the first crackle of the beans is heard, losing some of its natural moisture and increasing in size. Flavour experts consider this the best roasting method as the natural taste of the coffee (which varies based on location, altitude, temperature, etc.) is retained to a large extent. Keeping the flavours unique and sticking to its roots helps people distinguish between coffee tastes.


2) Medium Roast

The alternate name, "American roast" comes from the fact that this is the most popular style of coffee beans sold in the USA. This is also a commercial roasting process. Here, the roasting process happens to the extent that it has an adverse effect on the natural flavour and properties of the beans. The advantage is that the roasting levels are definite and consistent, producing a sweeter cup profile. The disadvantage is that it removes any uniqueness of flavour.


3) Full Roast

The roast here takes place up to the second crackle of the beans. This is done to enhance the visual appearance of the bean, making it look shinier. While it does change the flavour of the coffee to a slightly spicier one, it gives a "full bodied" mouthfeel, which a lot of people love.


4) Double Roast


In this process, the beans start smoking and the natural sugars in the bean subside. While double roasted coffee has a sweet aroma, the full-bodied flavour is absent. The darker the roast, the less the acidity of the coffee. This method removes the authenticity and uniqueness of the flavour to a large extent.


The right way to drink coffee:


Surprisingly enough, there is a right way and a wrong way to drinking coffee! A few pointers to help you caffeinate the right way:


The time when you consume coffee makes a big difference, as it may otherwise interfere with your cortisol cycle.  Cortisoland melatonin are the hormones that regulate sleep and wake cycles. When cortisollevels drop, melatonin takes over and makes you sleepy. When you're asleep, relatively low levels of cortisolallow your cells to repair and heal.


(Image courtesy: ASAPScience)


- It’s advisable not to drink your coffee black, as you lose 5mg of Calcium for every six ounces of coffee consumed. Just two tablespoons of milk can help compensate this loss.

- If your coffee is too bitter, turn it into something drinkable! Adding a little salt is an unconventional but effective solution.



The origins of coffee:



It's said that the heritage of coffee traces back centuries ago to coffee forests in Ethiopia. Legend has it that a goat herder named Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beans after discovering that his goats got more energy from consuming the berries. He took it to the local monastery, where drinks were prepared with the berries, giving them more energy. The knowledge of these "energy berries" soon began to spread, reaching the Arabian Peninsula.


People began to grown coffee in regions such as Egypt, Syria and Turkey. This began the introduction of coffee houses in the 16th Century in the Middle East. As trade relations between Middle East and Europe started to get better, coffee went to Europe for the first time, where it was an instant hit. With the colonization of the Americas, the Dutch began growing coffee plantations in the North American subcontinent as well. Today, you have coffee plantations all around the world… and coffee-lovers as well!


The origins of coffee houses:



Coffee houses originated in the Middle East around 1511. Initially an exotic place to enjoy an exotic beverage, these watering holes soon evolved into the massive coffee-shop chains we see today. The concept of the coffee house came to London in 1652. Until then, coffee was not really known in Britain. It came from Africa through the Ottoman Empire, who the British had formed an alliance with at the time.


Pasqua Rose, the servant of a merchant trader and an Ottoman immigrant, opened the first coffee house in London. It became known as "The Turk’s Head". Due to clashes in religion, it was initially viewed with controversy. However, by 1663, over 83 coffee houses had been opened in London. By the beginning of the 18th century, there were over 500.


Surprisingly, there were even detesters of coffee houses and there came a point where the king nearly tried to ban coffee and close coffee houses altogether. However, being a convenient social meeting spot and an alternative to bars and taverns, it only continued to grow. Today, coffee and the coffee-shop culture are at their zenith, and seem to be growing to still further heights.


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