The word “Artisanal” literally comes from the mark of an artisan. Something beyond the ordinary, something regal. A product that is artisanal is therefore a special creation. An artisanal product is not the result of any mass engineered formulated, generic production where suited to fit for the crowd. Artisanal Coffee is a prime example of such standard products.
Artisanal products are much more varied and layered than that. These products are usually created with a deeper care and specialization. An artisanal product is almost free from generic mechanization and is made with human effort and touch to ensure utmost perfection, variety and top notch quality! The most substantial component has to be the involvement of the artistry in the product.
We have quite a lot of artisanal products being celebrated around us starting from edibles to handicrafts, organics and other handmade things. Chocolates, teas, soaps, skincare ranges, oils, beverages, cheeses and of course coffees!
So how does Artisanal Coffee stand out?
When it comes to artisanal coffees… it’s a colourful world of caffeine out there. The market overflows with basic coffees, engineered to taste a certain way for the masses with a generic processed flavour, in the name of instant coffee.
This however, is not enough for the true coffee connoisseur or a passionate caffeine lover or coffee enthusiast. A better drinker of coffee has a classier blend to adhere to!
These people want to know their drink, be educated about it, care more to find out what goes on in it, are curious and adventurous to try new coffees and therefore there comes the demand for artisanal coffees in the world… for the coffee drinker with class and understanding.
Artisanal coffee is also known by other terms like specialty coffee, third wave coffee, premium coffee fancy coffee and others.
Well, to give these names and then live upto them becomes a herculean task for most brands that claim to do so! Multiple factors go behind making a coffee artisanal or fancy in nature from location to climate, types of beans to its origin, roasting time and quality to grinding type and time, shelf time and life to aroma and ample of other pointers.
One of the most significant factors behind deciding if a coffee is specialty coffee lies in determining the sourcing of it. In India, for example, Indian coffee will change value in accordance to its location. Coffee that has originated from the Southern areas of India will have a higher end demand as South India is hub for higher end rich coffees.
The sub-division goes much more deep rooted than this. In South India, further places like the Coorg region will have the highest demands of coffee due to their premium growing, environment and climate conditions which produce some of the finest coffee beans in the entire nation.
How a specialty or premium coffee is different from a typically cheaper or instant coffee is in its formulation. Artisanal coffees are formed from the scratch by much elevated rules. The processed is almost entirely handpicked, hand sorted and sun dried.
flavours and originality in the coffee beans
This maintains the sanctity of flavours and originality in the coffee beans. And because they are handpicked, only the most ripe and sturdy beans are selected by the farmers unlike in generic coffee brands who select any and every cherries they find cheaper and later engineered the product to taste a certain way often by added flavourings!
Even the drying process is sun drying in artisanal coffee which is very different from the short cut machine drying of other coffees. Sun drying leaves all the flavours intact. The seed of these coffee cherries are come out now which good major value.
What type of coffee beans are being chosen also matters. There are usually two broad divisions called Robusta beans and Arabica beans that surround your coffee type.
Arabica more developed beans
Arabica beans are finer and more developed beans, very mild and higher end in nature, demanded by around 70% of the coffee population. Robusta are the next best ones, much stronger and more robust in nature, as the name suggests, they are demanded by around 30% of the world coffee population.
A true artisanal coffee is a result of the amalgamation and rightly compatible blending of these two types of coffee. A higher end Arabica is the most demanded coffee type in the world.
How your coffee bean is processed also makes huge difference in flavour notes in the coffee. Like, naturally processed coffees have a much stronger aroma and sweeter taste than machine processed or quick processed coffee that involve a more bitter and bland taste.
Distinguishing an artisanal coffee
Another huge factor behind distinguishing an artisanal coffee from a generic coffee is the time duration and availability! Artisanal coffees are known and popular for being easily unavailable. To understand why this happens we need to backtrack to coffee formation.
It is to be remembered that the finest coffee trees bloom only once throughout a year in the season and under right circumstances. Now the artisanal coffee makers take this into notice and diligently derive their coffees at that very time of the year to deliver the most fresh products!
Artisanal coffee drinker
This brings us to another major factor: the shelf time. If you are an artisanal coffee drinker… you will hardly see any artisanal coffee products lying around stores for ages.
Whether it’s a delivery or a shop, products are received by the people in a whiff! This is because artisanal coffee tries to make the coffee reach its owner in the most minimal time after roasting and grinding to ensure that the true flavors, tones, aromas, natural sweetness and oils of the coffee are intact!
Whereas, an instant or generic coffee keeps lying on the shelf for months and sometimes a year! This dries up the coffee beans, killing its aroma and drying its natural oils and flavours which is why they add artificial ones !
Quality of an artisanal coffee
Roasting time and nature also effect the quality of an artisanal coffee to that of a basic one.
These factors and indicators to different boards coming and scoring each coffee ! Yes, an artisanal or high end coffee is often scored! That is the amount of fervour and sincerity that goes behind creating a true artisanal coffee.
Ripe artisanal coffee cherries ready to be picked.