Coffee bean, coffee is the most-consumed beverage in the world, and this amazing drink is made of coffee beans. It is because of the distinct aroma and flavor that come off from the ground coffee. The coffee bean is the seed of grain of the coffee tree. The seed is inside what people call the Coffee Cherry. Generally, two beans are attached with their flat sides together inside a coffee cherry. But there are seldom chances that only one seed occurs inside a ‘peaberry (the coffee cherry containing one seed).’ People believe that single seed contains more flavor than the regular coffee beans.
Composition of coffee bean
Many ingredients are included in the coffee bean. It is composed of carbohydrates, lipids, protein, tannin, minerals, and polyphenols. There are many minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, calcium, sulfate, copper, zinc, rubidium, cesium, bromine, phosphorus, and lanthanum. Coffee bean also has sugars such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, galactose, arabinose, and mannose. Many amino acids, such as arginine, asparagine, alanine, glutamic acid, cysteine, histidine, lysine, glycine, serine, proline, and valine, also can be found in coffee beans. This ingredient disposition is the reason why people love coffee so much. They all gather together to give an aromatic flavor to the beverage as well.
The coffee cherry – The layers around the coffee bean
Coffee beans are covered in layers that shape up like a cherry. Therefore, the fruit that the coffee tree bears is called a coffee cherry. The coffee cherry’s outer-most layer of the skin is called the Exocarp. The skin is naturally green and turns red, yellow, orange, or pink as it ripens, depending on the coffee species. Green coffee cherries and green coffee beans are two different things and should not be confused with. Green coffee beans are the unroasted coffee seed that is inside a ripe coffee cherry, while green coffee cherry is an unripe coffee cherry.
Underneath the exocarp (the skin of the coffee cherry) is the mesocarp. Mesocarp is generally known as the pulp underneath the outer layer of the coffee cherry. The inner layer of the pulp is known as the Mucilage that is followed by Pectin. These two layers are full of sugars that are very beneficial in fermenting the coffee cherries.
Underneath Pectin is the Endosperm, which we all know as the Coffee Bean. It is the seed of the coffee cherry, which is used to make the most famous beverage in the world. Each cherry consists of two beans, which are covered in a thin layer, which is called the silverskin. Sometimes, a coffee cherry can have a single seed, which is usually more substantial than the regular seed. This happens in 5% of the coffee cherries, and they are called as ‘Peaberries.’
Where did coffee come from – the legendary tale
The history of this legendary seed goes back to 850 AD when an Ethiopian goatherd called Kaldi discovered the first coffee plant. The popular legend of the first coffee plant discovery goes like this.
Goatherd Kaldi from Ethiopia noticed that his goats were nibbling on red cherry-like berries from a bush. He noticed that his goats displayed extra energy after nibbling on the ‘red berries’ He decided to chew on a few of them to find out that these berries give exhilarating energy. There, he plucked a few and took it to the Sufi Monastery (an Islamic monastery) nearby and showed it to the monk.
He disapproved of the use of these red berries and threw it into the fire. From the fire came an aromatic smell, which prompted them to rake out the roasted beans quickly. The roasted beans smelled so good that they decided to grind it and mix it with hot water, thus yielding the world’s first cup of hot coffee. Since, then, the coffee bean has taken an important place in man’s day-to-day life to this date.
Followed by the discovery of Kaldi, the coffee plant continued to grow commercially and has become one of the main exports in many countries. Coffee was first introduced to the American in 1723. Roasted beans were first sold at the retail store in Pittsburgh in 1865. Later on, the spray-drying techniques developed, thus birthing ground coffee powder.
Transmission of coffee history
The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking comes from Yemen in the 15th century. It was in this part of Arabia that coffee was brewed in the way it is brewed now. It is believed that coffee was traded to Yemen from Ethiopia through the Red Sea by merchants. Coffee beans were initially roasted and brewed to be used by Sufi Circles (Islamic leaders) to keep them awake for religious rituals. The coffee bean is dried and roasted to get the aroma that is very appealing even up to date.
By the end of the 16th century, this beverage had reached the rest of the Middle East, Turkey, Northern Africa, and Persia. In 1670, the first coffee seeds were smuggled to India by Baba Budan. Before the incident, all coffee beans that were exported were either boiled or sterilized.
World distribution of coffee
As of now, South America holds more than 45% of the world’s total coffee exports, Brazil making the most coffee. The United States of America imports coffee from other countries more than any other nation in the world, exceeding more than 8 billion US dollars in 2011 on coffee imports. The USA is the top-most consumer of coffee, consuming more than 400 million coffee cups per day as per the records in 2015. Coffee plants grow the most within the ‘bean belt’ or the ‘coffee belt,’ which is the earthly space between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
The coffee plant and its features
The average coffee plant grows into a tree between 5 and 10 meters in height. It starts bearing more leaves and fruits as it ages. Farmers usually plant coffee trees in rows several feet apart. Some plant on the side of the hills because the coffee bean requires certain temperatures to be ripe. Some planters prune and stump the height of the coffee plant to preserve energy and for harvesting purposes.
The tree is usually covered in green waxy leaves that grow in pairs, bearing coffee cherries among them, depending on the type of coffee bean. Usually, it takes three to four years for coffee trees to bear fruit. There are varieties of coffee beans that have different sizes, shapes, characteristics, flavor, and resistance to diseases.
The most grown coffee plants are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica and Robusta require different weather conditions to grow. Therefore, farmers tend to plant them separately in different areas to provide the necessary sunlight and rain. As of now, four main coffee beans are being identified; Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa.
From tree to the cup!
Coffee bean does not end up in your cup automatically. It goes through a series of procedures before it turns into a cup of coffee in your mornings. There are different methods used from harvesting to processing the coffee bean. Coffee beans are actually the seeds of coffee cherries. They come in pairs unless it is inside a peaberry. Farmers use different techniques to process coffee beans to get different strengths of flavor and aroma from the coffee beans.
Harvesting coffee cherries
Mainly, two methods are used in harvesting coffee cherries. They are plucked as the fruit, and then the seed is taken out of the cherry. The two main types of harvesting are selective plucking and stripping.
- Selective plucking:
This method is mostly used by premium coffee makers. The word ‘selective’ implies that the cherries are carefully selected to make the coffee better. Farmers who selectively pluck cherries inspect each cherry carefully and pluck them by hand. Only the perfectly mature cherries are plucked, and the rest is kept on the tree to mature further.
Stripping is used by either manually by mechanical strippers or large-scale harvesting machines. When the stripping method is used, the maturity state of the cherry is not taken into consideration. Cherries of all stages are stripped into the machine or the stripper when this method is used. It is mostly done by low-cost coffee manufacturers. Only the stripping speed is considered and not the quality and the state of the cherry.
The processes of coffee beans
Once coffee cherries are harvested, there are several procedures taking place in order to bring it to your table. Picking the right cherries are of utter importance if you want high-quality coffee.
The method ‘Washed’ consists of a process where the cherry is separated from the bean as cleanly as possible. The cleaning agent used here is water. This is a great way to separate the coffee beans from the fruit, and it appreciates the actual characteristics of the coffee cherry. Even though a lot of water wastage can occur in this process, new technologies have come up with more productivity and less wastage.
Drying coffee cherries is the oldest method used. It is also known as the natural process. This method was used in Ethiopia, where coffee was first found. This method involves drying the coffee cherries in the sun before separating them from the seed. The drawback of this method is, there is no consistency in selecting only the ripe cherries. All states of coffee cherries are left to dry, and that creates an inconsistency in the flavor of the coffee.
This method is an easy, low-cost method that is used by many middle-class coffee manufacturers. The drying method also catches some exciting flavors to the coffee bean. The drying process absorbs the sugars and the fruity flavors from the cherry pulp that is ripe, which gives an exciting twist to the coffee aroma. It is also the most eco-friendly method of coffee processing as it uses no other materials other than sunlight.
Honey method is a method between Washed and Dry. It separates the outer layer of the cherry, using water, and keeps the ‘honey’ or the mucilage to dry in the sun. This adds extra flavor to the coffee and is mostly used in coffees from Costa Rica.
Roasting coffee beans
Roasting coffee beans is what makes your cup of coffee a reality. It gives a distinct color and aroma to your beverage. A fraction of a second of a degree can change the color and quality of the coffee you are roasting. That is why coffee roasting should be done with ultimate precision. There are three main types of coffee roasting.
- Light Roast:
Light roasting of coffee beans is done from 180 to 210 Celsius. After it crosses 200 Celsius, coffee beans start popping like popcorn. This first ‘popping’ is called the ‘first crack.’ Light roasting stops from the first crack and does not roast further.
- Medium Roast:
Medium roasted coffee consists of a medium-brown color with a lot of flavors. Coffee beans that are medium-roasted are done from 210 to 230 Celsius. In medium roasting, the bean pops for the second time. This is called the ‘second crack.’ Medium roasted coffee stops from here without roasting further.
- Dark Roast:
Dark roast is when the coffee beans are roasted after the second crack. These coffee beans contain a full-body, smoky flavor that is liked by most.
Health benefits of coffee
Coffee is a beverage that has many health benefits. Researches have confirmed that coffee helps reduce type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and liver cancer. It also promotes heart rate, which is why people feel more energetic after drinking a cup of coffee.
Conclusion: Coffee bean – the ultimate drink for everyone!
As much as we love to drink other beverages, nothing refreshes you like a fresh cup of coffee. Freshly ground coffee is one of the most demanded beverages in the entire world. More than 80% of the whole world’s population consumes coffee on a regular basis. Even though people have skeptical ideas about coffee containing caffeine, it also contains many healthy ingredients and health benefits. One of the reasons why people are benefited from drinking coffee is the ingredients it contains.
The coffee bean holds a long history, and it has been coming down the generations as one of the primary beverages ever since. As mentioned in the above, the coffee bean is the seed or grain of the coffee fruit, which is called the cherry, which grows in average-sized coffee trees. The coffee cherry is generally red in color when it is ripe, and these cherries are used to make coffee all around the world using different methods and procedures. Coffee is the ultimate drink of all time for all ages, and that is proven through many types of research.