How long does it take for a coffee bean to get to its form?
Your warm cup of coffee is the result of nothing but good coffee beans mixed, maneuvered and polished to make fine coffee powder. These good looking brown beans come from the beautiful estates of the world, from tropical and sub tropical forests. They go through an entire makeover and break over to come to you in the form of your warm drink. To begin with, the initial query stays that…
The coffee plant takes 3 to 4 years of good growth in favorable conditions like lower temperatures below 30 degree Celsius, heavy water flow etc. to grow and bear its first fruit. These are coffee cherries, crimson red in color which can be consumed as food too! These cherries have the seed inside them which are then taken out and processed to make those brown chocolate beans. The difference is made at the core of these beans by distinctions like place of origin, roasting intensity, size and other factors.
Now that the beans are sorted up… it is time to learn about how these beans differ from each other in classification, quality and their areas of origin.
How can we classify these beans then?
Apart from the many sub divisions, coffee beans have been mainly classified into 2 main types and 2 or 3 surrounding types. The surrounding types are Liberica, Excelsa, Geisha.
Liberica is the largest in size, irregular and much harder to find. It has a much lower yield.
Excelsa, very close to the Liberican family is usually found in South East Asia.
Geisha or Gesha is another newly found branch of coffee that originated in the Ethiopian regions mostly.
Other rare types include Bourbon, Typica etc.
These branches are however not as in demand as the two officially valid branches of coffee- Robusta and Arabica.
Robusta is the second most produced coffee type in the world. It grows at certainly elevated areas and is known to have a strong, harsh and rubbery taste. The caffeine content is around 2.7%. It is often served with a blend of chicory, a close substitute of coffee, by supermarkets and grocery stores because the other type Arabica is a premium star!
Then comes the last and most relevant showstopper-Arabica. Arabica coffee is the most produced coffee in the world with the highest demands all around.
Which bean can be called the finest?
Well as per the demand of world citizens Arabica tops the charts consistently. It is the most premium kind of beans accounting to satisfying around 70% of the world coffee population. Good quality Arabica is known to glide its aroma and flavors through the mouth with a natural scent and not so harsh caffeine quantity at 1.5%. It has a smooth body, distinct and delicate flavors, with a refined acidity. The flavors and aromas have complex layering which is loved by coffee drinkers. It is the ultimate choice of coffee drinkers and connoisseurs globally.
Even amidst Arabica and Robusta there are divisions according to place of origin.
Robusta is famous in places like Vietnam and the citizens still consume more amount of Robusta than Arabica there. This makes the Vietnam Robusta a distinction. The Indonesian Robusta and Arabica compile to produce 660,000,000 kgs of coffee per year in the country! The taste distinction is on the more pale side. The Brazil Arabica is one of the high demand coffees in the world due to the premium growth conditions they are nurtured in. Some of the other distinct Arabica and Robusta bean types are from Uganda, Ethiopia and Columbia. India too produces heavy amounts of Arabica and is the third largest coffee bean producer in Asia.
Even if it is the finest bean, a coffee bean cannot be consumed in its raw form… this is when the magic happens to turn it into your favorite powder: grinding.
So how do these coffee beans turn into fine powder?
Grinding needs prior preparations of the beans. The green beans are roasted, cleaned and polished. After the roasting process is over these are released now and it is show time, the finale of grinding these glorious beans into the ultimate magical powder!
Grinding is arguably the backbone of your drink. The amount and type of grinding decides how your coffee is going to smell and feel. This is where ‘extraction’ comes in handy. The whole idea of grinding acts out when extraction of flavors happen along the way. One such extraction factor is grinding size. The kind of taste and type of brew you desire from your coffee will depend on the grinding you use. The main types include- Extra coarse grounds used for cold brews, coarse grounds used in French Press brewing, medium-coarse grounds used for Chemex or clever drippers, medium grounds for a medium drip coffee, medium-fine grounds great for pour overs ad siphon coffees, fine grounds classically used for espressos, super fine grounds used for Turkish coffee.
Usually the extraction time of your coffee will increase with the size of your grains i.e. the bigger the grains the more the extraction time. Therefore grinding breaks down the beans into their final state: coffee powder or grains ready to be brewed into your perfect cup of warm coffee, or cold who knows?
At this point a basic question might be hovering around your head…so the hot chocolates and cocoa products that I consume, are these all made of coffee beans?
Are coffee beans and cocoa beans the same?
To give the quickest answer: No, they are not the same but are very similar. The chocolate beans actually come from the Theobroma Cacao, commonly known as the cacao plant. It is an evergreen branch of the Malvaceae family. This is very different from the entirely separate coffee plant from the cherries of which coffee beans are derived. The only similarity is that both the products made from the plant of these two trees and these fruits or their seeds initially have a highly bitter taste.
Cocoa tree produces huge fruits called the cocoa fruits, the seeds and other parts of which are processed to create cocoa powder, and other cocoa products like chocolates and chocolate flavored edibles. Thus next time you have an espresso, remember that it has very little to do with cocoa powder except for the flavoring that is added to give aroma and enhanced taste.