From growers to consumers
You would not think that from its many types, only two are suitable for making the coffee drink that is admired by many: Arabica and Robusta. The plant Robusta is less demanding and endures heat well; the drink from it has a bitterish taste, not too varied and its quality is not so outstanding. The plant Arabica is more sensitive, the drink from it has a richer taste, and its quality is higher than that of Robusta. There are several types, though coffee cannot be made from all of them. The taste of brewed coffee depends on the quality of beans, the place of origin, the roasting technique and countless other factors like a possible rate of blending for example.
Only the beans of the evergreen plant are used, though eastern people make purgative medicine from its skin. Usually, they are picked by hand, because only ripe cherries can be used and the machine-made harvest requires further assortment afterwards. Ripe beans are dried, cleaned (by wet or dry process) and are roasted at gradually rising temperature. Finally, they are assorted according to the developed flavours. Lower-quality is often improved by better-quality coffee, and then it is packed.
During roasting, green coffee beans go through physical and chemical changes due to the heat. Scents and aromas are created, beans turn brown and lose their moisture content, and thus, they can be ground easily. Roasting has different degrees from golden brown to dark brown. The roasting types known and beloved in Hungary as well are Viennese, French and Italian, which refer to acidity and bitterness besides colour.
After roasting the beans, coffee can be made in different ways. The rate of coffee and water can be different, and different flavourings might be used. A wide range of things can serve as flavourings from the everyday ones like sugar, milk and cream, through interesting and extravagant ones like chocolate, cinnamon or cardamom and mint, to the most unbelievable ones like eggs. Stylish serving, a cup or mug dear to your heart, or the use of a simple paper cup, which is already an essential part of coffee drinking in this rushing world, may increase its enjoyability. Naturally, brewing of ground coffee beans also has many ways, which influences the savour-experience as well.
Here are some examples:
Turkish coffee: Roasted coffee is ground several times in this oldest and most famous coffee-making method, until you get the appropriate fineness. They make it in a Turkish brass pot with long handle (‘cezve’) together with sugar, by adding one spoonful of ground coffee to every cup of water, and bring it to boil while stirring it. Before the coffee brews, they take it off the cooker, and then they boil it again and pour it into cups. They pour one drop of cold water of the top of each cup, so that grounds can settle quicker.
Percolated coffee: The so-called ‘clucking’ percolator is still the most widespread coffee maker in the Carpathian Basin. Water goes under the coffee that is in a sieve above it. Boiling water is almost pressed through the coffee layer and dissolves substances and aromas out of the ground coffee, and then the ready coffee can be poured from the upper part. Due to high-pressure water vapour, this method results in a coffee drink with much stronger aroma and caffeine content..
Espresso coffee: Coffee can be called espresso if a machine presses 88-92 degree (Celsius) water at 9 bars through a compressed ‘cake’ made of 7 grams ground coffee during 20-30 seconds. The result is a brew of 25-35 ml. Shorter espresso is called ristretto, the longer is called lungo that has higher caffeine content due to longer time of making.
French press coffee: You can make very delicious and aromatic coffee with this simple and aesthetic tool. Put one spoonful of ground coffee per dose in the preheated glass press pot, pour hot (cc. 95 Celsius degree) water on it (about 100-120 ml/dose), stir it and let it brew for 3-3.5 minutes. Pushing the plunger down carefully sends the grounds to the bottom of the pot, and the hot black coffee can be poured out.
Filter coffee: Filter coffee machines also serve for home use. Hot water is poured on the coffee in the filter. The result is a much weaker drink than the percolated one.
Instant coffee: This is how the instantly dissolving coffee is called. It is one of the most current methods of making coffee nowadays. Many people doubt it, but actually real instant coffee is made of 100 percent coffee without any additives. With the best-quality instant coffees, you can make a drink absolutely similar to the percolated one.
Decaffeinated coffee: According to the European standard: 0.1 percent and according to the US standard: 0.3 percent can be the caffeine content in the decaf coffee. This type is made from real coffee beans, from which almost the whole caffeine content is extracted by different technologies, while other inner values are not or hardly damaged. Thus, its enjoyability remains and its taste is the same.
Coffee substitutes: They can be instant of brewed. The colour, scent and consistency of drinks made from them are very similar to real coffee, but they do not contain caffeine at all, their tastes are different and their composition values are completely different. They can be made from divers roots (chicory), cereals (malt), seeds and fruits by drying, shredding, roasting and grinding.
Seven interesting facts about coffee:
The day of coffee was started being celebrated in Japan originally in the eighties, and then it became popular in the USA. It has been celebrated worldwide every year on 29 September since 2009.
Just like in wine, unique aroma characteristics can be discovered in coffee as well: cocoa with spices, fruity – citrus, cereal – seedy, herbal – floral.
The most extraordinary coffee is not ‘harvested’ by humans, but by a small animal the Asian palm civet. It eats the ripe beans and excretes them after the digesting process. Workers on plantations collect these beans, clean and roast them. This process gives a special aroma to the coffee, which makes it extremely delicious according to gourmet consumers.
Coffee grinder was invented by an English metalworker, the first coffee machine was created by a Frenchman, but it was machine-produced first in Italy.
The Hungarian-born Francesco Illy (Ferenc Illy) developed the vacuum packaging of coffee and the predecessor of the espresso coffee automata.
The speciality of the French press coffee maker is that modifying the brewing process can result in significant differences between coffee drinks, besides choosing the suitable beans. On barista world championships, participants bring their own recipes for French press coffees, which were created by tiny modifications.
The ‘clucking’ percolator got its name after the clucking sound during coffee brewing, for there is a weigh in the tube through which coffee flows out. Nevertheless, not all the percolators are clucking that seem to be.
Translated by Zita Aknai