Basic Coffee Knowledge. Coffee is a drink that is mentioned a lot because it is so familiar to everyone. The basic knowledge about coffee presented in the following knowledge article will help readers better understand coffee.
Arabica beans variety, also known as coffee, was discovered in the Kaffa region (the word Kaffa or Kafe is the origin of the word Coffee) of Ethiopia, bordering present-day South Sudan.
Today, some wild varieties of coffee trees are still growing throughout the forest border between these two countries. Commonly named Ethiopia Heirloom due to the unknown genetic source of each coffee cultivar grown in Ethiopia.
In the 8th century, seeds of the arabica plant from Ethiopia were brought to Yemen. The Arabs in Yemen began to grow, roast, and get the finished product by sea to Europe for basics trade.
Since then, the name Moka of Yemen has been included in the history of coffee; this is the name of a type of coffee plant belonging to the Arabica variety, also a famous trading port for a while.
It was not until the 17th century when the monopoly on selling coffee in Yemen was broken that some Dutch merchants brought this plant to grow. Set the stage for countries in Europe to plant throughout the colonies in Asia and America. Arabica is considered the most popular coffee plant globally and produces the wealthiest coffee flavors.
The variety Canephora, also known as coffee, was discovered along the Lomani River, a tributary of the Congo River. This basic variety is divided into two main “lineages” in the commercial they are all collectively known as Robusta due to the common flavor characteristics. “The Guinean line” or Robusta, is distributed in Central African countries such as the Ivory Coast and the Republic of Guinea.
The “Congo River,” or Conilon, comes from West African countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon along the Kwillou River. Considered the second most popular coffee variety after Arabica. The place with a lot of Robusta production in Vietnam, and in terms of quality, it is Uganda, the Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Liberica or Excelsa variety, also known as jackfruit coffee, was discovered in coffee’s Liberia, stretching to Uganda and Angola. This variety is popularly grown in Europe in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This is a less popular coffee variety because the flavor is not as rich as Arabica, and the yield is not as good as that of Robusta.
There is also another hybrid line between Arabica and Robusta called Timor Hybrid, which comes from hybridization in nature—first discovered on the island of Timor in Indonesia.
The Timor Hybrid line has the dominant characteristics of two Arabica and Robusta lines as follows:
The flavor is better than Robusta but not as good as Arabica.
The ability to adapt to the environment and disease resistance is better than Arabica but not as good as Robusta.
The price will be above Robusta and below Arabica.
Arabica cultivars followed the French priests into our country in 1857 and were planted in some northern provinces such as Ha Nam and Phu Ly. Then gradually spread to the central regions such as Quang Tri, Quang Binh, and the Central Highlands.
It was not until 1908 that the French imported the remaining two varieties. They determined that the Robusta variety was highly suitable for Vietnam’s climate, soil, and terrain conditions.
Entering the “Doi Moi” period in 1980, the Vietnamese government accelerated the increase in the area of Robusta coffee trees to conduct trade in the communist bloc at that time, such as the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia.
The most popular and basic coffee grown in Vietnam is Robusta, Timor Hybrid varieties, and Arabica. Vietnam is famous for exporting Robusta green coffee (raw product); the purpose is to extract caffeine such as capsules, synthetic flavors, instant coffee, and energy drinks.
The taste of the coffee bean varieties
Each coffee plant variety will have its unique flavor and depend on where the coffee is grown.
Flavors from each coffee variety
We will describe the basic Liberica variety first because this is the least exciting variety. This variety has huge stems, leaves, and fruits but low yields. Or planted as a windbreak for other coffee varieties.
It has also been used as a genetic source to breed several coffee varieties that are resistant to increasingly harsh weather in recent years. Liberia’s sour taste is quite similar to that of ripe jackfruit; if people want to experience it, they can go to the 96B Experiment.
The Robusta variety is suitable for growing under 1000m. The seeds are tiny compared to the Arabica variety, with good yield and high caffeine content (caffeine is an insect repellent, but the diverse insect environment is below 1000m).
Taste: bolder, more bitter, and sour than Arabica (additional: many of you wonder why I record that Robusta is more acidic than Arabica, this is only true when Robusta is lightly roasted because Robusta is grown at a low altitude, so it’s true. Sugar compounds and organic acids are less leading to a very sharp sour taste, not as delicate as Arabica); This is also the reason why people will often see Robusta beans or dark roast because if they are lightly roasted, they will have a sour taste like eating a whole lemon or drinking vinegar water.
On the other hand, Arabica is the opposite; the popular planting height is over 1000m, low yield, low caffeine content compared to Robusta, and poor resistance to pests and diseases.
Taste: aromatic, sour, mildly bitter, less intense than Robusta.
The general conclusion between Arabica and Robusta: in terms of quality, Arabica is better than Robusta, and in terms of output, Robusta will be higher due to its good yield. So the price of Arabica will be much more eye-catching than Robusta.
Depending on each person’s preferences, those who like aromatic, tea-like varieties should choose Arabica, and those who want bitter, strong drinks with sugar or condensed milk should use Robusta. But don’t drink Arabica beans and criticize them for being so pale, forcing it to be the same as Robusta and vice versa. It’s like you grilling fish and then turning it into roast beef.
Flavors from each growing region
The coffee flavor will have common characteristics according to each continent globally, but there will still be exceptions. I temporarily divided into three continents with the following typical flavors:
+ Central and South America: balance flavor, mild acidity, spice, nuts like chestnut, almond, …
+ Africa region: bright acidity, fruity, medium body.
+ Asia region: earthy smell (earthy), sweet taste (sweet), thick body (heavy body).
(The flavors I just listed above are correct in most cases, everyone, there will still be countries and regions within that country that fall outside the above rule. The more you buy coffee, the more you will know the flavor of that region.)
Personal conclusion: How well I know where coffee is grown will help me buy coffee beans with my favorite flavor or give some advice to customers. So if you like strong coffee, choose the right place to grow it, and don’t waste your time arguing with people who drink light coffee because there’s no such thing as a good rule here, just like it or not…
Fruit structure and green coffee beans
Regular coffee fruit comprises two main parts: the outer skin + mucilage, also known as the pulp (pulp/mucilage), and the seed part, including the husk/parchment. , silk skin (silver skin) and kernel (seed)
The mucilage or pulp (pulp/mucilage) is essential in creating flavor during preliminary processing. In contrast, the husk/parchment plays a role in preserving the beans—coffee for longer.
A typical coffee fruit, if grown commonly, will produce two kernels, while a mutant will create a single peaberry coffee, and three (triangle) seeds.
An unconfirmed belief is that the single bean will give a fuller flavor, while in another coffee-growing country, this is seen as a bug that needs to be eliminated. The two countries I know or sell nuclear weapons are Vietnam and Kenya.
Each green bean in a variety and from each coffee variety will have a different size, so sieving is needed. The purpose is to make roasting coffee easier because of the amount of heat transferred to each coffee bean. The green kernel will be uniform and hit the user’s psychology when buying a product (big and even, it’s good to see).
Depending on the country, there will be a different way of classifying sizes/sieves by numbers or letters, and the ordinary standard people will use numbers, for example:
S16, here S is screen size or sieve; one sieve will have many holes, the diameter of each hole in the sieve is 1/64 inch, so S16 means 16/64 inch you will get green kernel size.
Side knowledge: in Vietnam, we often confuse coffee beans grown in Moka and other beans like Robusta with a small sieve size similar to Moka beans. Most sellers name it Moka, but it’s just Robusta coffee with a small sieve size.
And Peaberry beans refer to the shape of the coffee bean, not about the flavor characteristics of a coffee or a coffee plant variety. Arabica or Robusta all have Peaberry beans.
Like many other fruit trees, if we want to enjoy good coffee, we have to wait for it to ripen. When sugar levels are at their peak, the sugar in the coffee cherries is the key to the taste. Therefore, the ratio of ripe fruit when harvested will be more expensive than live/young fruit.
There are two types of harvesting: manual, suitable for challenging terrain, and mechanical, suitable for coffee farms.
The coffee-growing region is divided into two hemispheres from the equator—most of the harvest in a year. The coffee beans will not ripen immediately but mature gradually for about three months. Regular Arabica coffee will be harvested about 1 to 2 months before Robusta coffee, some countries are located in both hemispheres, so there will be an additional small harvest crop.
As shown in the illustration, we will see:
It will be from late winter to early summer in the northern hemisphere.
In the southern hemisphere, it is from late summer to early winter.
Because of the nature of only one harvest, the taste of the coffee you drink will be reduced by the end of the year because the coffee is old. For example, Vietnamese coffee grown in Gia Lai and Kon Tum areas will usually be harvested in October and December. After that, the fruit is processed and stored for another two months to stabilize the flavors. So it took nearly four months, i.e., around March-April, we had new coffee to drink.
Once we know the above, we will no longer wonder why coffee gets worse towards the end of the year, it’s inherently inevitable, and you also have the foundation to know which season to buy coffee grown.
Pre-processing coffee beans aim to retain the beans’ flavor, and the preservation will be longer. Depending on the different processing methods, the taste and flavor is retained more or less. In this article, I only briefly introduce the three primary and most popular methods: natural/dry process, washed process, and honey process (pulp/honey process)…
-Preliminary dry process (natural/dry process): bring the coffee beans to dry in the sun for about one month and stir until they reach the required moisture level. This will help the sugar in the fruit to convert into coffee beans.
It is recommended to dry about 50cm from the grounds to avoid the case of coffee contaminated with soil smell, coffee tainted with soil smell will give off a moist earthy smell when brewing.
+ Strengths: coffee will retain the most sugar so coffee beans will have the most decadent flavor in this preliminary processing.
Weaknesses: only suitable for places with a lot of sunshine, challenging to do industry, and expensive if done right.
– Fully-Washed process: take the coffee beans to rub the skin and flesh of the fruit, leaving only a tiny part of the fruit and the husk of the coffee bean. Then take it and soak it with some enzymes to ferment from 12 to 36 hours. The final stage is to wash and dry or dry the coffee beans. This helps the coffee beans reach the required moisture faster, shortening the pre-processing time.
+ Strengths: the cheapest of the three techniques, investment on an industrial scale is possible.
Weaknesses: The taste is not as rich as dry preliminary processing. The water source must be appropriately treated when it is finished processing. Otherwise, it will pollute the land.
Side knowledge: when you read here, if anyone has ever bought Robusta grown in Vietnam, with two methods of processing dry and wet, they will wonder. Why is dry pre-processed Robusta cheaper than wet? Because of the dry preliminary processing in Vietnam, I have a very high percentage of live seeds and often dry on the grounds like our group photo took, so the taste is sandy and acrid. How can it be sold? If you do it right, you will get a high price. For example, like dried pre-processed Catimor beans, everyone can try it at Epic Coffee Roaster.
The honey/pulped process: is a primary method that combines the above two methods. Coffee cherries are rubbed but still retain a part of the mucus on the fruit. Depending on how much of the pulp and slime is removed in the coffee fruit, there will be different names, such as Black Honey and Red Honey… After removing part of the fruit pulp, it will begin drying on drying racks in the greenhouse. Drying time is about 9-12 days.
+ Strengths: the taste of this pre-treatment will be better than the wet pre-processing but not as good as the dry pre-processing. Suitable for areas with little sunlight.
Weaknesses: Usually, the cost will be more expensive than the other two preliminary processing methods. Green coffee is easily fermented during storage.
In addition to the above three ways, there are also some typical preliminary processing methods; people can buy coffee in these regions to experience it, such as the initial processing of wind dance (monsoon process) in India, the primary processing of coffee in these regions. Lab processing of Indonesia,… I would like to make another appointment to talk about this preliminary processing.
Some common standards in commercial exchange.
Any green coffee sold on the market must be classified according to several criteria as follows:
The number of defects in the green kernel
Sieve feces, also known as green kernel size (screen size)
+ Quality of taste when drinking (quality cup)
The first criterion, which is one of the most important, provides us with clarity about the quality of the finished coffee.
Two classification methods are most commonly used today:
+ SCAA (SCAA Green Coffee Classification Method) green coffee classification method. This method is superior because it explains the relationship between “error quantity” and “drinking taste quality.” However, this method still allows a certain amount of error in the coffee.
+ Brazilian / New York Green Coffee Classification Method (Brazilian / New York Green Coffee Classification Method). Green kernels must be free of defects and of the exact origin, grain size, color, and shape. This method is very accurate but takes more time to verify.
And coffee products in commercial exchange can be divided into two basic types as follows:
+ Commercial goods, you will have a lot of choices from the popular segment to the high-end segment, the quality of the taste will also correspond to the saying: “you get what you pay for.” If you are a buyer of green kernels for sale, you need to pay attention to the most will be the price, the percentage of ripe seeds, and the place of planting.
+ Specialty Coffee (used to evaluate arabica beans)/Fine Robusta (used to assess robusta beans). This concept was introduced by Erna Knutsen in 1978 as follows:
Particular geographical climates produce coffee beans with unique flavor characteristics called ‘Specialty Coffee.’
Based on this premise, successors developed many more concepts. But in general, to be recognized as a Specialty Coffee, you must have two necessary and sufficient conditions as follows:
* Eligible conditions: coffee beans must score above 80 points according to the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) scale.
*Necessary conditions: 1. Sourced from a potential farm, good seed source; 2. Harvesting, processing, and preserving by the correct method; 3. Proper extraction (dispensing) process.
Personal conclusion: as a consumer, I will care about the origin and quality of goods, so commercial interests or specialty coffee is not as vital as drinking a cup of similar good quality—worth the money I spent.
About roasting, grind, and brewing coffee
When you know how you like the taste of coffee, we will come to the stage of coffee roasting. Roasting aims to ripen the beans and reveal their inherent flavor strengths. And if you roast coffee that is raw, acrid, or charred, you are wrong.
There is no such thing as the best roasting level; it depends on the coffee variety and where it is grown. And also, depending on each culinary culture, they will prefer light or dark roasting.
The scale of the roasting level will depend on the roaster. Some essential scales are using temperature, full scale, or described by name through the color of coffee beans when roasted.
In this article, I will list some basic roasting levels (based on the illustration above) and some of the countries that often use what type of roasting, as follows:
Light roast from 205-210 degrees Celsius :
Taste: mild sour, sweet (if roasted well) with floral and fruity aromas. It can have a grassy, sour taste like lemon (if it’s not well roasted).
Popular places: Nordic countries, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, and the USA.
Purpose of use: suitable for people who only like to enjoy the scent of coffee beans, should not be used with products such as sugar, fresh milk, and condensed milk.
Storage time: usually short, best used within one month after roasting because the scent is less durable, but the lightly roasted coffee loses its aroma, and there is nothing left to drink.
+ Medium roast (medium roast/monk’s habit) from 210-219 degrees Celsius:
Taste: balanced, fully showing the outstanding characteristics of coffee beans, sweetness.
Popular: northern France and parts of Japan.
Intended use: suitable for those who like the balance between scent and taste when drinking. It can be accompanied by sugar and fresh milk.
Storage time: longer than light roast, best used within less than one year from roasting if well preserved (with a tin can and an inert gas pump like Illy or a coffee bag with a valve). One way as good as Carraro).
+ Roasted just enough (medium to whole roast, quite dark) from 219-225 degrees Celsius: darker in color than medium roast. There will often be intermittent patches of oil on the coffee surface.
Flavor: bold (heavy body), roasted, and homogenous (because of losing the original, characteristic flavors in coffee beans).
Popular: southern France and northern Italy.
Purpose of use: suitable for those who like bold and mild bitterness, accompanied by sugar, fresh milk, and condensed milk.
Storage time: similar to medium roast, but if not stored well, it will quickly go rancid due to the oily surface of the coffee.
+ Very dark or even black roasting above 230 degrees Celsius: losing most of the inherent flavor, the surface of the coffee beans is dark and shiny due to the soy oil.
Taste: mainly bitter, toasted, burnt wood.
Popularity: Spain, southern Italy, and Greece.
Purpose: suitable for a morning, you need to be extremely alert.
Storage time: usually short, should be used one month after finishing roasting because there is a lot of oil on the surface of the coffee, so the case of coffee goes stale very quickly. Everyone can try to buy Starbucks coffee at the darkest level to experience it. Although they say it can be preserved for one year on the packaging, my experience is that it should be used as quickly as possible.
Side knowledge: very dark roast is also known as Italian roast, which refers to the darkest, most oily, and bitter roasted coffee beans. This roast is named after the southern Italian roasting style. But most roasters in Italy will roast at a medium to the whole roast.
Most commercial roasters worldwide roast from medium to whole roast for a fuller flavor and longer shelf life. With two cases of light roast (light roast) and very dark roast (dark roast, very black, or even black), it is only suitable for some customers, and it is also a challenge to the good or bad skills of the worker. Roast again.
Some of your roast and buy mistakenly think that the coffee will smell like flowers and fruits if you roast lightly. It will be true if you choose coffee grown in Africa, especially Ethiopia, famous for its floral, orange, and tropical fruit flavors.
As for choosing Asian coffee, it’s a bit wrong. In Asian coffee, like in Vietnam, many people roast lightly and then record sour tastes like yellow lemon, green lemon, and wild berries. But is drinking a cup of coffee sour like lemon good for the stomach?
Whole bean coffee preserves better than ground coffee. So when grinding into a powder, everyone should use it as quickly as possible. And should store coffee in a dry place, away from sunlight.
Tasting Instructions and Explanation of Some Tasting Terms
In cuisine, depending on the need to enjoy, a drink will be evaluated as delicious or not based on each individual’s point of view. And when you want to compare coffee anywhere, see if that coffee has the exact dimension of variety, place of cultivation, and roast level as the coffee you are drinking. Otherwise, all comparisons are lame.
In this article, I will only mention how to drink coffee in a scientific way step by step. You only need a nose and a mouth to do it (limit smoking, stay up late, and eat unhealthily).
Step 1: Use your nose to smell unground coffee beans.
Step 2: grind it into a powder and smell it again. The term in the coffee industry is fragrance/dry aroma, i.e., smell the dry aroma.
Step 3: bring to brew, then smell the coffee powder when mixed with hot water. The term for tasting is called wet aroma, i.e., wet aroma.
Note: in some sources, people will see that only the word aroma is used. Aroma means the scent of coffee in general (dry aroma+wet aroma=aroma). The illustration for the smell is the pyramid above.
Step 4: Take a large sip of coffee, and use your tongue to stir the solution around the roof of your mouth. At this point, you will analyze the taste (taste) of sour, bitter, salty, and sweet.
When is the most recognizable taste? On the palate when first ingested. Or like the new swallow (finish). Is there an aftertaste (the taste sensation left after tasting)? Long or short?
Note: in one culinary culture, there is more mention of spicy (although this is not a taste), the sweetness of meat or broth (umami), and fatty or greasy flavor.
+ Step 5: also drink as above. These times will analyzed more deeply about the taste. The so-called flavor means flavor; it is the impression of the senses on the palate and is a composite experience from three components:
* Aroma (aroma)
* Taste (taste)
* Sensation from touch (tactile/mouthfeel) or body (body). Which I have been using since the beginning of the article.
Before you listen to the explanation of “tactile sensation,” you should try drinking water and milk and then judge for yourself which drink feels “heavier” on the palate.
Explaining “touch from feeling” is a specialized word that is very confusing to those new to coffee and those who have drunk coffee for a long time because they do not know how to explain it. It can be easily imagined but not easily recognized. It’s that “heavy” feeling or something so “strength” that we can “discern” from each coffee in the mouth. Primarily, it will be easy to recognize when using the tongue to rotate around the roof of the mouth.
The definition of “tactile/body” refers to the texture of a beverage and, respectively, a coffee whose strength is perceived on the palate.
And the term “tactile/body” describes both the physical and sensory properties of tactile sensations perceived by the mouth, such as a sensation of bold (heavy/whole body), medium (medium), or light (thin/light)…
Tactile/body summary: simply how strong or light it feels when you drink it (remember, you have to take a large sip, and use your tongue to stir the solution around the roof of your mouth to see it).
The answer between fresh milk and water is that fresh milk is heavier than water when drunk.
In this section, everyone can learn how to drink coffee; you can apply it to all other drinks such as wine, beer, whiskey, and vodka,… And how to evaluate a good drink will be based on Everyone’s standards don’t need to listen to anyone. There’s no such thing as good or bad food; it’s just appropriate in each situation.
The problem of choosing coffee from a single-origin coffee and blended coffee (blend coffee)
Depending on the purpose of the seller and the buyer, we have two options above. As mentioned in the title, each method will have its good and evil, so don’t waste time arguing with others about the problem.
Coffee from a region or, more precisely, a single-origin coffee (Single Origin Coffee): comes from a single indigenous part that is not mixed with any other coffee. The beans must show the aroma—a characteristic taste from that native region. Usually refers to a farm or an area in a country. It came from a specific piece of land on a farm (micro lot). It increases transparency in commercial transactions. (refer to section 3.2 to see how the flavors are typical in each country)
Usually, two transaction models are direct trade coffee (direct trade) and fair trade.
Several rating systems:
– The cup of Excellence (CoE) contest, the competition aims to recognize the quality and care in each coffee shipment.
The Coffee Quality Institute Q (CQI-Q) rating system, which complies with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) standards, evaluates arabica and robusta varieties at the producer and farm level.
-Coffee Review website, a guide to buying famous coffees, and introducing favorite global coffee roasters, manufacturers, and coffee shops, is one of the most read coffee pages on the internet. world
*Advantage: you will know the most detailed information about your product. Know that region’s good and sour flavors and can easily compare them to a coffee from another area. Usually quite expensive
*Cons: there is no uniformity in taste each year. The flavor will change based on the weather conditions of that year.
*Most suitable for enjoying coffee without adding products such as sugar, fresh milk, or condensed milk.
Personal comment on “coffee grown from a certain region” (Single Origin Coffee): the original definition of this term was to let consumers know product information, not to refer to a delicious coffee, From the origin to the finished product you use, there will be many stages, and at each link, we must ensure quality.
So, in addition to buying a bag of coffee from a source that produces high-quality, well-processed, well-roasted coffee beans, the brewing technique is also essential. Don’t just think that you can get 8 points for a bad mix if you have good ingredients. At that time, the maker himself did not understand the value of the product of the bourgeoisie.
As coffee beans are purchased from many regions, many countries worldwide are roasted and mixed. Take advantage of the different flavor characteristics of each area and government to create a new and attractive flavor. Commercial and consistent. The degree of roasting of each type of coffee beans in a blend should be almost the same.
*Advantage: stable in taste, the price will be lower than Single Origin Coffee. Because when you mix like this, your coffee ingredients don’t have to be extremely good, let’s say 10 points. You just need to use ingredients with 5 to 8 points.
*Cons: you will not know the exact information about each type of coffee and how to distinguish the flavor of each region.
*Suitable: for all kinds of coffee-based drinks.
Some notes on mixing
With manual mixing methods using a filter funnel, for example, the mixing method must create complexity and balance.
+ As for making coffee, the specific machine here is espresso. The mixing method must create a balance.
What is beneficial when brewing coffee one way may be disadvantageous in brewing another way.
When mixing, you must have a specific flavor theme, aromatic, bold, or bitter, for the drink.
Examples of some of the products I often buy:
Roasted seeds, sweetness, balance: Illy Brazil, taking the Brazilian flavor as the dominant when mixing.
Mild sourness, the balance between sweetness and bitterness: Lavazza Classico.
Tobacco taste, bitter and robust: Uganda+Indonesia+Robusta Vietnam (I mix this myself).
Desire to increase crema, more pungent taste in espresso: Lavazza SuperCrema.
(Due to making espresso, a yellow foam is called crema. With arabica, the crema is very smooth, durable, has a pleasing aroma, and is usually light yellow-brown. Robusta will produce a thick and coarse crema. It smells like medicine and dissolves quickly).
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The phrase “single origin” is a small phrase with a large definition. The definition is frequently shortened to coffee sourced from a single producer, crop, or region in a single country. Single farm and single estate refer to coffee that is sourced from a single farm, mill, or co-operative. Then you can take it a step further and look for coffee labels that indicate the estate name, the specific lot or paddock where the coffee was grown, or whether it’s a microlot.
For examples, Starbucks sells a brand of blended iced coffee drinks called Frappuccino. It is made with a coffee or crème base, ice, and various components such as flavored syrups, and is frequently topped with whipped cream and/or spices.
Helena Coffee Processing & Export in Vietnam | Helena., JSC
Embarking on a journey from crop to cup, our innovative startup excels in exporting and processing Vietnamese Robusta and Arabica coffee. Driven by the mission “Together make a better world,” we aspire to reshape the coffee industry globally.