The coffee plant is a small green tree that is grown in moist cool and frost-free countries in the subtropical regions. It has small oval shaped leaves and white clusters of flowers that matures and becomes the coffee fruit.
The fruit or the cherries are covered by a soft edible thin skin that children in the subtropical countries can munch and spits out the coffee bean. Normally however, the cherries are processed either by the natural method (sun drying) or the washed method (fermenting). Revealing two seeds that are called the coffee bean.
Originally, the coffee plant was known to have originated from Ethiopia. Its first use was for food, which the nomads during the time will cover the coffee bean with fat and carry them around as food. Coffee beans reached the Arabian Peninsula during the manner of trading popular during those times.
Initially though, the trade in coffee beans was banned in the Muslim states but the trading persisted and after initial opposition, it became a familiar drink among the Arabs. From then on it reached Turkey and Egypt and it’s trading crept all over the world.
When the coffee beans reached Europe, the Catholic hierarchy labeling the drinking of coffee as heathenish for a time also banned it from consumption. Like anything that is good the trade of coffee beans once again persisted.
In the middle of the 17th century, Pope Clement VIII lifted its ban and the coffee beans had nowhere to go but spread over all of Europe. In 1668, coffee beans reached the Americas and have since then became a favorite drink of the Americans.
The biggest shift in its consumption and hence its rise to popularity among Americans was after the Boston tea party where tea was made scarce aside from being unfashionable.
Big complicated problems encountered from so small and
simple a bean. Today it is always good to drink coffee at any time of the day
without the worries that it initially posed.
The coffee that is served on your table comes from two major specie of the coffee plant, the Arabica and the Robusta.
The Arabica coffee beans
Arabicas were the older of the two main varieties. It is of higher quality and hence is more expensive. Arabicas are also more difficult to cultivate. It prefers elevations that are about 3,500 to 7,000 feet with temperature that is about 24 degrees Fahrenheit and an annual rainfall of 50 inches.
The Arabica is considered to have a superior taste and has lower caffeine content over its counterpart, the Robusta.
The Robusta coffee beans
The Robusta on the other hand thrives where the Arabica could not. It is planted on lower elevations and provides better yields. Compared to Arabica coffee beans, the Robusta has a more bitter taste to it that is sometimes compared to somewhat like burnt rubber.
Robustas can also give a foamy head that makes it the preferred coffee beans used in espressos. The Robusta are also more caffeine rich than the Arabica coffee bean variety.
Coffee beans today are cultivated in many countries in the
world and graded according to its characteristics. Distinction often is
dependent on its size, flavor, caffeine content, acidity and mouthfeel.
Some coffee drinkers however do not mind as much. A cup of
coffee is for many just a cup of coffee. If it is blended well, roasted well
and prepared well, the proof of its quality is for most, in the drinking.