Did you know that coffee grows on trees?
The goal of this article is to clarify and organize some basic concepts relating to coffee and its consumption.
1. Brewed Coffee,
2. Espresso Coffee, and
3. Decaf Coffee.
Let's begin by simplifying the complex process of creating a quality cup of coffee.
The Coffee Process
• From a farm close to the equator, the ripe coffee berries are harvested from the coffee tree and sorted, either by hand or by machines.
• They are then put through a fermentation process.
• They are dried and stored.
• They are milled and hulled to reveal those small, brown coffee beans as we know them. These beans are sometimes referred to as “green coffee,” which means they haven’t been roasted yet and are often used as seeds for the next crop of coffee trees.
• The “green” coffee beans are distributed.
There are Fair Trade organizations whose goal is to promote best practices in the coffee industry (think: child and forced labor, sustainable farming, direct trade to support and protect coffee farmers.)
• The “green” coffee beans are roasted to enhance differing levels of darkness, bringing out different tastes and properties of the coffee.
• The beans are packaged and sold to coffeehouses (cafes, coffee shops, coffee bars) and a variety of supermarkets and specialty stores.
If you are familiar with the language of coffee, you will be better equipped to successfully navigate the coffeehouse.
There are many definitions, based on country and culture, specific coffeehouses, and trending terminology. The definitions that I have used here are generalized from the American coffee culture.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important terms to know and distinctions to master.
1. What is Brewed Coffee?
Brewed coffee refers to any kind of coffee that is not made using a pressurized process.
Brewing methods include:
*Coffee Press or French Press (where boiling water and coffee grounds are strained by using a plunger.)
• Black Coffee or Filter Coffee is brewed by dripping hot water through the ground coffee beans and through a filter.
• Green Eye Coffee is made from a cup of brewed coffee to which three shots of espresso have been added.
2. What is Espresso Coffee?
Espresso coffee is made when boiling water or steam is forced (rather than dripped) through ground coffee beans.
• A Latte is made with steamed milk, to which a shot of espresso is added. A generous layer of foam is added on top.
• A Cappuccino is made with a shot of espresso, to which steam milk is added. A layer of foam is added on top (foamier than the latte).
• A Flat White is made with flat (no froth) steamed milk, to which a shot of espresso is added. A thin layer or no foam is added on top.
3. What is Decaf Coffee?
1. The direct contact method, where methylene chloride is added which binds to the caffeine in the raw beans, later burning away during the roasting stage.
2. The Swiss water method, where the raw beans are soaked in hot water, removing the caffeine (and a significant amount of flavor.)
Please feel free to add to this article, perhaps clarifying nuances that might be incomplete or incorrect.
Hopefully, you are now armed with enough coffeehouse language to smoothly order your perfect morning coffee. We all know that there is nothing worse than an unsatisfactory cup of coffee at the start of the day!
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