Overview of Coffee Fundamentals – Coffee is a familiar beverage in any part of the world. To help understand more about coffee, Helena Coffee Processing & Export Coffee has compiled and synthesized coffee-related knowledge. This knowledge gives you an overview from which there is a basis for further research.
Coffee is a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions around the world. Its rich flavors, enticing aroma, and stimulating effects have made it essential to many people’s daily routines. This article will provide an overview of the fundamentals of coffee, including its history, cultivation, processing methods, and brewing techniques.
Legend of the coffee tree – Overview of Coffee Fundamentals
The discovery of coffee dates back to the 9th century in Ethiopia, where it is believed that a shepherd noticed his goats becoming more energetic after consuming berries from a particular tree. This led to the cultivation of coffee plants and the eventual spread of coffee consumption throughout the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, and, later, the rest of the world.
There is an interesting legend about the coffee tree as follows. While taking his sheep to eat, a shepherd named Kaldi observed that the sheep eating strange red fruit suddenly jumped with unusual joy. He tasted this peculiar fruit and felt highly refreshed and full of energy. He informed the monks there.
At first, they thought the forbidden fruit brought the devil and decided to burn the seed. However, when burned, the scent emanating from the strange roots makes them want to taste it. Indeed, their spirits were extraordinarily refreshing. They decided to make it a drink before each ceremony.
However, that is just a legend. The coffee plant originated in Ethiopia (formerly known as Kaffa). The enslaved people captured from Ethiopia to Egypt brought this fruit with them. They soon became a trendy Egyptian drink.
In the 18th century, the first Dutch people brought coffee outside Egypt and planted it in Martinique. Later, the French and Brazilians brought this fruit back to their homeland. That was the first step for coffee to be grown worldwide.
Coffee trees can be grown in many places and areas in the world. However, there are only areas within the coffee belt; where the conditions are met in terms of soil, altitude, climate, weather, etc. New coffee trees grow, develop well and produce high-quality coffee beans with rich flavor.
The coffee belt is located along the equator, between the 23rd latitude north and the 23rd south latitude. The lands within this boundary combined with an altitude of 500-2,000 meters above sea level, rich soils, hot and humid tropical climate, and suitable rainfall are ideal conditions for coffee trees to grow. And develop.
Coffee-growing countries in the world
Cultivation and Harvesting
Coffee is primarily grown in tropical and subtropical regions, with the most significant producers being Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam. The two main species of coffee plants are Arabica and Robusta, each with unique flavor profiles and growing conditions. Coffee plants typically mature for three to four years, and their cherries are harvested once or twice a year, depending on the region.
About 75 countries in the coffee belt, but only 60 countries can grow coffee. In there:
Africa is the cradle of coffee. This land has a variety of varieties and species, where valuable genetic resources are preserved. Coffee-growing countries in Africa can be mentioned as Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania…
America is considered the world coffee farm. The coffee has a mellow and balanced taste, floral, orange, lemon, and spice flavors, light in texture. Coffee growing and exporting countries: Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico...
Asia has only about eight coffee-growing countries. There are Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China, Yemen, … Asian coffee flavor has a characteristic earthy smell, sweet taste, and chocolate flavor, slightly bitter, bold body.
Coffee flavor by altitude
Altitude is a crucial factor affecting coffee quality. Altitude is as important as the seed source itself. The taller the coffee tree is cultivated, the longer the growth cycle is, the slower the accumulation of nutrients in the beans, resulting in a richer flavor, firmer and heavier beans.
Of course, altitude, soil quality, rainfall, climate, etc., also determine the quality of coffee beans. However, the properties of coffee beans change with height as follows:
- 600m: Coffee at this altitude often has a strong bitter taste, a simple taste.
- 600-760m: Coffee has a light, earthy flavor at this altitude.
- 760-910m At this time, coffee begins to have a sweet, mellow taste.
- 910-1200m: At this height, coffee is characterized by citrus, chocolate, and vanilla.
- 1200-1600m: Coffee has a rich flavor, fruit flavor, flower flavor.
Coffee imported into Vietnam.
In 1857, the French brought the coffee variety Tea (Arabica) from Bourbon to grow in the northern and central provinces such as Xuan Mai, Son Tay, Quang Tri, Bo Trach, etc. However, the yield of coffee was in the regions. This is very low, only about 400 – 500 kg / 1 hectare. Then they brought coffee seeds to plant in many places set up plantations in the southern provinces and the Central Highlands.
In addition, new types of coffee, such as Mitcharichia (Jackfruit coffee), are also tested. Since then, coffee has become the most popular industrial crop in Vietnam.
Coffee growing areas in Vietnam
That day, the French experimented with coffee at plantations across the country. Areas with a favorable climate for coffee to grow have been expanded; areas with low yields will be eliminated. At the same time, they also found a suitable planting place for each coffee variety.
Currently, there are many coffee-growing areas in Vietnam, such as Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Central Highlands, and the South. However, in terms of climatic conditions, the provinces of the Central Highlands are the most suitable for coffee trees to grow. Therefore, this plant is increased a lot here. Coffee plantations with very high productivity and excellent coffee quality were born, especially in Dak Lak and Gia Lai.
However, the best varieties of coffee, with the highest quality known, often come from Da Lat of Lam Dong. The altitude, temperature, water, and light conditions here are highly favorable for top plants like Moka Bourbon to live.
Popular types of coffee in Vietnam
Conditions of tropical monsoon climate in Vietnam are very suitable for developing coffee trees; especially the coffees are of high quality as Arabica Robusta Cherry.
Arabica belongs to the family Rubiaceae, genus Coffea; in Vietnamese, it is known as “coffee” due to its tiny leaves low stems like tea trees in Vietnam. Arabica is native to southwestern Ethiopia. Then followed the French to Vietnam. This is the first coffee grown in our country.
Arabica has many different varieties in the coffee family, and almost all of them are the best coffees. Some names can be mentioned, such as Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Catuai, Catimor, Moka.
Up to 39% of coffee production globally is of the Robusta variety (1). The trunk of Robusta is taller, more branched, and leaves are more significant than that of Arabica.
The taste of Robusta is not as appreciated as Arabica. So the price is only half of Arabica. However, the outstanding feature of this coffee variety is its very high caffeine content, accounting for about 2-4% of coffee beans, while Arabica only has 1-2.5%.
Cherry, also known as Chari coffee, Jackfruit coffee originates from Ubangui Chari, near the world’s largest desert, the Sahara. Therefore, this plant is tall, with large stems and leaves to store water, and can grow well in dry climates.
The fruit of Chari is more significant than other varieties, but the yield is not high. In terms of taste, it is not as appreciated as Arabica or Robusta, so it is grown tiny today in our country.
In addition to the above coffee varieties, the market also mentions a lot of mutant Peaberry coffee lines, bringing both the flavors of Arabica and Robusta coffee.
Coffee flowers only germinate under low-temperature conditions or are provided with water after a dry period lasting about 2 to 3 months. Usually, the seasons with a hot climate alternating with rain after a few months will help the coffee flowers bloom at the right time, giving a higher yield.
Knowing the blooming principle of coffee flowers, growers will take measures to provide appropriate water and nutrients to increase the crop’s yield. However, it should be noted to avoid bad weather, prolonged rain, especially frost, which will cause coffee flowers to rot, significantly reducing gain.
Structure and composition of coffee berries
Structure of coffee fruit
A coffee fruit has six main parts: stem, pod, flesh, husk, silk, and kernel, also known as the coffee bean.
As the link between the fruit and the branch, the coffee stalk needs to be supple. This helps the coffee cherries not fall off due to natural external influences but must be crunchy for easy picking.
This is the outermost layer of the coffee fruit, which covers and protects the inner parts. When unripe, the coffee pods will be green, and when ripe, they will gradually turn red or yellow depending on the coffee variety. The rind of Arabica varieties will be softer and more petite than Robusta and Chari.
The fleshy pods of coffee have a mildly sweet, edible taste. In the way weasel coffee is made, the weasel will eat and absorb the flesh and release the kernel. The skin of Arabica has the sweetest and softest taste, while the Chari coffee has the thicker skin of the whole.
Rice husk part
After being dried, this is a relatively rigid shell to protect the coffee bean. After harvesting coffee, people will remove the outer shell. The flesh and slime part, only the husk and seeds inside. This husk is also released when processing and can be used as fuel and excellent compost.
The silk shell is the fragile and soft part surrounding the coffee bean. Each type of coffee has a different silk color. Accordingly, the skin of Arabica coffee is white, Robusta coffee is light brown, and the silk skin of Chari coffee is pale yellow.
This is the component that creates value for the coffee tree. The coffee bean is divided into two parts: the rigid outer part consists of small cells containing oil, and the inner part has large and relatively soft cells. Except for cases like coffee with only one kernel, or rarely 3, most coffee beans have two equal parts.
Chemical composition of coffee berries
In a whole coffee fruit, there will be many different ingredients. Each ingredient is essential to create the flavor of the coffee.
In the rind of coffee, fruit contains a lot of anthocyanins, so the fruit is usually red when ripe. In addition, the skin also contains many substances such as caffeine, alkaloids, tannins, and many other enzymes.
The fleshy crust contains mainly viscous substances and soft cells. This part includes a lot of sugar that makes the coffee taste sweet; it is a substance that supports the fermentation process of Pectinase, which makes the taste of the coffee more delicious.
Because it is wrapped right outside the kernel, the husk also inherits a significant amount of caffeine, up to 0.4% of the weight of the coffee fruit.
In fully ripe coffee beans, water accounts for 10 – 12%, then 10 – 13% Lipid, 9 – 11% Protein, 5 – 10% sugar, and 3-5% starch. Each type of coffee has a different chemical composition that creates a unique flavor. In addition, if the processing is optimized, it also helps to improve the quality a lot.
Characteristics of substances in coffee beans
When drying, standard coffee must have 10 to 12% water in the form of bonds. After roasting, this figure is about 2-3%. When the amount of water is more, the preservation will be complicated. Coffee beans will be moldy, which significantly affects their quality.
In 10-13% of the Lipid of the coffee bean, 90% is oil; the rest is wax. This ingredient creates the aroma and consistency of coffee; after processing, the remaining amount of Lipids is minimal and clings to the coffee grounds. Use this residue for perfect skincare.
Although the protein in coffee is low, it has a lot of suitable amino acids. When roasted, this amount of protein will burn and create the characteristic aroma and taste of coffee, with many contributions to this ingredient.
The coffee bean’s mineral content accounts for 3-5%, mainly types such as Magnesium, Potassium, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Chlorine, Iron, sulfur, etc. Delicious coffees often have very little mineral content because they affect the quality of the coffee. Not suitable for the taste of coffee.
This is the feature that makes coffee different from other fruits and nuts. Caffeine is the source of the benefits of drinking coffee, helping you feel relaxed and energetic. The amount of caffeine in different types of coffee is additional, of which Robusta has the highest caffeine content.
Coffee processing methods
There are three main methods for processing coffee cherries: natural (dry), washed (wet), and honey (pulped natural). Each method impacts the final flavor profile of the coffee beans. The natural process involves drying the cherries under the sun, the washed process removes the fruit’s pulp before drying, and the honey process is a hybrid of the two, leaving some of the pulp on the beans during drying.
This method is where people will dry the whole coffee beans immediately after harvesting in the sun. This method has the advantage that it is easy to do and does not take much effort. However, it has a massive disadvantage: it makes coffee beans take longer to dry and prone to mold from the inside. Especially when the weather is unfavorable and cannot be dried, it is easy to have a moldy phenomenon that leads to poor coffee quality.
Because of the above disadvantages, people rarely process this method, especially for high-class coffee like Arabica.
However, if dry processing is done correctly: a high percentage of ripe fruit, such as drying on a rig, at the right time and temperature, and avoiding mold, the coffee can taste better than other processing methods.
This pre-processing method is used to ensure the best quality for high-quality coffees. The process will take more effort, but in return, the value of the finished coffee will be much higher.
Immediately after being harvested (collecting only ripe seeds, the number of green beans must be limited to the maximum), people will bring the coffee cherries to grind. Then put it through the water to treat, filter out the dense outer layer, and get the rest of the filling to ferment. The fermentation process is only completed when the husk becomes rough and clean.
Finally, the coffee beans will be washed and dried. Then, the outer husk is the finished product.
The drying process is also very elaborate, do not dry it directly on the ground because it will absorb moisture. When drying, it is necessary to spread evenly so that all seeds are evenly dried; the drying ends when the roots are not broken. This requires a lot of experience from the farmer.
Coffee prepared with the wet method will taste clean, balanced, and light texture.
This cooking method is also quite similar to wet processing. However, people will not remove or retain all the viscous before drying. This will give the coffee bean a dark brown color similar to honey, true to the name of the honey processing method.
Coffees processed will retain a bit of sweetness and increase the flavor when enjoyed.
The Honey processing method gives a rich taste, sweetness, smooth texture, tartness, and ripe fruit.
Roasting is a critical step in coffee production, as it transforms the raw green beans into the aromatic, flavorful beans we recognize. Roasting profiles range from light to dark, with each level bringing out different flavors and characteristics in the coffee. Light roasts tend to be more acidic and fruity, while darker roasts develop bolder, more robust flavors with less acidity.
Why roast coffee?
The roasting process will transform coffee’s chemical components, especially caffeine, lipids, and proteins, to create a characteristic aroma and taste when drinking.
The process of transforming coffee beans during the roasting
Coffee roasting will start from the moment the temperature reaches 100 degrees Celsius until it ends at 240 degrees Celsius. During this heating process, the ingredients in the coffee will begin to change:
When reaching 100 degrees C
The amount of water inside will begin to evaporate, causing the coffee bean to shrink.
From 0 – 150 degrees C
The amount of water continues to lose; the coffee bean changes color to light yellow. The shrinking process continues, and the aroma starts to rise with it.
From 150 – 180 degrees C
If kept at 150 degrees Celsius, the coffee bean will turn yellow to brown. At this time, it is necessary to heat up to 180 degrees Celsius to make the coffee smell more fragrant. The shrinking process ends, replaced by volumetric expansion due to the internal components.
From 180 – 200 degrees Celsius
During the heating process from 180 to 200 degrees Celsius, the coffee beans have expanded to their fullest extent, the aroma is fragrant, and the ingredients inside can be easily ground. However, at this time, when crushing, the finished product will not be of the best quality and will not have a sour taste.
From 200 – 210 degrees Celsius
Coffee beans begin to expand to the point of explosion; smoke begins to rise to create a fragrant aroma and spread further.
From 210 – 230 degrees C
Coffee beans continue to swell due to the release of carbon dioxide and more explosions.
From 230 – 240 degrees C
The seeds will now have a dark brown color a strong scent, and the ingredients inside will also be modified to achieve the best flavor. This is the best time to puree and start mixing.
Note the coffee roasting process is the healing process for the beans. The temperature above is the accumulated temperature inside the coffee beans. Depending on the purpose of roasting and the preparation method, roasters can choose to stop the roasting at any temperature.
Or, if the roasting is done on a roasting machine that displays a graph of heat over time, the roaster can also end the roasting process by time, depending on the purpose of preparation.
Nowadays, there are many different ways of processing coffee, so there are many kinds of finished products. Each type has its advantages.
Pure roasted coffee
This coffee is roasted and ground into powder. This is a coffee made from 100% natural coffee beans, without the shadow of any other additives such as beans, corn, or grains. The advantages of pure coffee keep the most characteristic of coffee connoisseurs’ favorite drink and would like to use nuts cafe refined roasted rustic.
Realizing that powdered coffee takes a long time to prepare, manufacturers have begun to think of ways to help users enjoy coffee more conveniently. They have premixed the coffee powder with flavorings and additives during production to achieve the desired taste. Users need to bring this powder into boiling water, mix it up and enjoy; it only takes 30 seconds to make a delicious cup of coffee.
It can be seen that the advantage of instant coffee is its quickness, the taste has been prepared and calculated with a moderate amount, so you can always enjoy the best cup of coffee.
However, it has a significant disadvantage: the flavors mixed inside will lose some pure coffee taste.
If even making instant coffee takes up your time or you don’t have the conditions to make it, a ready-made cup of coffee will be highly convenient. Coffee water is similar to instant coffee but has been prepared, open the lid to drink.
The advantage of this type of coffee is its quickness and convenience. However, we can’t know exactly what’s inside, and there’s often a lot of energy from sugar, dairy, or worse, high levels of preservatives to help keep the product longer.
Moreover, the amount of pure coffee in coffee water only accounts for a small part, enough to create flavor but not comparable to powdered coffee.
Coffee brewing methods in the world
There are many brewing techniques, each offering a unique way to extract flavor from the coffee grounds. Some popular methods include espresso, pour-over, French press, AeroPress, and cold brew. The choice of brewing method, grind size, water temperature, and coffee-to-water ratio all play a role in the final taste of the coffee.
Coffee is the most popular drink in the world. However, not everywhere do people mix in the same way, but depending on the country’s characteristics and taste, they have their way of socializing. Some of the famous recipes include:
Italian Espresso, Cappuccino, and Latte
These can be said to be the most popular drinks in the world. Espresso uses the finest coffees, with a smooth consistency and great color. Mixing Espresso with milk according to specific standards will create Capuchino and Latte.
Buna coffee in Ethiopia
In the homeland of coffee, people are very proud of this drink because every coffee originates from a goat herder in their country. So the way to enjoy coffee here is also somewhat different. Ethiopians will use coffee (locally Buma) mixed with salt or butter, not sugar and milk.
Turk Kahvesi of Turkey
This preparation method is straightforward; one needs to take the coffee powder into the water and boil it on the stove until it has enough flavor.
The Danes will use pure coffee for drinking with cream or fresh milk without any impurities. This way of making coffee is quite similar to Italian cream coffee.
Ireland of Ireland
This is a uniquely Irish way of making coffee. They’ll put some Irish Whiskey, sugar, and a little frosting in the hot coffee. This drink suits warm people for the cold winter nights here.
The most special is Vietnam’s coffee filter: Vietnam’s most popular preparation. Almost every home has a filter to make its coffee, and outside of shops, the image of a coffee filter has been imprinted on many people’s subconscious.
The taste of coffee is complicated to say; it is based on many people’s perceptions. Each type of coffee has its unique flavor and, depending on each person’s preferences makes their choice.
Arabica has a beautiful brown color, smooth and smooth. When enjoying, a cup of fine Arabica will have a characteristic bitter taste, a relatively gentle and seductive aroma, plus a little sour or fruity taste to neutralize the bitterness.
Robusta is also bitter but fragrant, not sour like Arabica. We can also combine these two flavors with a neutralizing agent like cocoa or chocolate in a particular dose to enjoy the taste better.
Usually, people often apply the formula: 30% Arabica coffee, 40% Robusta and the remaining 30% is a neutral coffee or cocoa. However, if you like to enjoy coffee your way, you can completely change the above recipe to suit you best.
Benefits of coffee
In coffee, there is a lot of caffeine, which is a substance that has many effects on the body. At the same time, beneficial minerals and compounds also benefit regular coffee drinkers.
Talking about the beneficial effects of coffee, one can list a series of categories such as Anti-drowsy, refreshing, more comfortable, preventing cancer, aging, prolonging life, beauty, weight loss… And many other benefits.
However, the above benefits are only obtained when drinking a moderate amount, averaging 2 cups of coffee a day. If too much coffee is used, it can also cause users to lose sleep, be intoxicated with coffee, hallucinate, have a coffee addiction, have high blood pressure, etc.
Powdered coffee can be stored for up to 2 years from roasting and grinding if done correctly. Especially within 14 days after crushing, it should be put in a sealed, dry container away from moisture to avoid losing caffeine and flavor.
You should not put it in plastic bags if you roast your coffee because it easily gets moldy. Instead, you can set the coffee powder in glass bottles with tight-fitting lids to be protected with a better source of moisture. It should be stored in a high, dry, cool place and out of direct sunlight if careful.
It is also possible to store coffee in a one-way valve or vacuum. This is an excellent way to preserve the outside air, promoting the natural oxidation process in coffee.
Understanding the fundamentals of coffee – from its origins, cultivation, and processing to roasting and brewing – can deepen your appreciation for this complex and delightful beverage. You can enjoy an exceptional coffee experience tailored to your tastes by exploring different methods and fine-tuning your preferences.