Whether black, with milk or with milk and sugar, those who love coffee would never want to have to do without their beloved hot drink. There is good reason why it is considered one of the world’s most popular luxury goods.
Coffee or “Arabian wine”
The word “coffee” derives from the old Arabic word “qahwah”, with an approximate figurative meaning that includes coffee, wine and other plant-based beverages. That is why coffee was once also commonly referred to as “Arabian wine”.
There are lots of stories and legends regarding the discovery that a coffee bean could be used to make a wonderful drink. All of them refer to its stimulative and energising attributes. But the only hard and fast evidence we have is that the original home of the coffee plant is in fact Ethiopia.
The history of coffee
The first coffee plants were cultivated in the early 11th century in Yemen on artificially irrigated coastal slopes at the edge of the Red Sea. After the Turks conquered the Arabian Peninsula in 1517, the coffee culture also spread to the Ottoman Court. From then on, coffee became a popular luxury item. But it took some time before the “black beverage” got as far as Europe. In 1615, Venetian merchants were the first to bring the coffee bean to Italy, before the first coffee house was opened in 1645. This was soon followed by other coffee houses in France, the Netherlands and England. Germany’s first coffee house opened in 1673. It wasn’t until after 1683 that Franz Georg Kolschitzky’s legendary Wiener Kaffeehaus opened.
While coffee initially came exclusively from Yemen, in 1658 the Netherlands succeeded in cultivating the first plantations on Sri Lanka. But there too, the spread of a fungal disease meant that the good coffee harvest did not last for long. Java and Sumatra in the island state of Indonesia provided alternative locations. To meet growing demand, virtually all climatically suitable subtropical zones around the world were gradually cultivated to grow coffee plants.
Coffee – from a luxury item for the upper classes to a drink for everyone
While coffee was still considered a luxury item up until the mid-16th century, this changed with the emergence of low-cost production methods during the era of industrialisation. By the middle of the 19th century, Arabica was the sole variety to be planted, and it was very susceptible to disease. In 1860, the Robusta plant was discovered growing in the wilds of Uganda. This plant grew at lower elevations and was considerably more resistant to disease. It was not until the 1950s that ground coffee became an affordable, daily drink for the masses.
Nowadays, coffee is grown in around 50 countries around the globe on roughly ten million hectares of land. The global harvest volume is in excess of 150 million sacks, each weighing 60 kg, measured between the years 2011/12 and 2017/18.
Coffee plants: Arabica vs. Robusta
More than 70% of the coffee harvested today around the world stems from the Arabica plants in Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Central America. The Arabica plant grows and flourishes from altitudes of 900 metres and prefers stable temperatures and frequent precipitation. This results in an Arabica coffee that contains very little acid compared to other coffee varieties, has a low caffeine content (between 0.7 and 1.5%) and boasts complex taste aromas. By contrast, the coffee that comes from the Robusta plant contains much more acid and has almost twice as much caffeine (between 2.0% and 2.5%).
Preparing the coffee
Over a period of two to three months, the constantly ripe fruits of the high-quality Arabica varieties are harvested individually by hand for the best qualities.
There are three methods for processing coffee:
- Wet processing: Using this method, the coffee fruit is prewashed with water and sorted between 12 and no more than 24 hours after harvesting. Then pulp is peeled from the beans by hand or using a machine. From there, the beans are added via an immersion channel to a fermentation container, where they can ferment. After around 12 to 36 hours, the beans are washed again and left to dry. This is one of the most expensive processing methods, as it requires a lot of water*.
- Semi-dry processing: After washing, most of the pulp is pressed off, but it is dried directly instead of fermented. Next, the dry skin of the fruit and the dry pulp is peeled from the coffee beans*.
- Dry processing: The coffee cherries are spread out for drying and turned several times a day to prevent fermentation and speed up drying. Because the layer can only be a few centimetres deep, huge areas are required. It takes between two and three weeks for the residual moisture of the fruit to drop to just under 13%. The dry skin and the dry pulp are then peeled off manually or using a machine*.
Making customised coffee
Coffee is more popular than ever and is still one of the world’s most important trading goods today. Although countries’ cultural differences are reflected in how they make their coffee, all of the methods have one thing in common: Hot water is poured over the coffee beans to release the aromatic flavours. Depending on personal taste, this is done hand-filtered using a jug or automated using a coffee maker or a fully automatic coffee machine. If you don’t plan a lot of time for making coffee and want to get your desired coffee at the touch of a button and have the latest technology in your own home, you would be well advised to get a modern fully automatic coffee machine.
Nespresso – what else?
This is why we would like to recommend the latest fully automated coffee machine from Krups Nespresso for uncompromising coffee enjoyment. Inspired by the world of baristas, the new Nespresso Expert will win you over with its contemporary and unique design. The machine can be connected to your smartphone or tablet using the Nespresso App (iPhone, iPad and Android compatible) and Bluetooth Smart technology for convenient use. You can make your favourite coffee-based drinks by entering customised settings for coffee quantity, volume of warm water and temperature based on your personal taste. Expert features a new Americano cup size (25 ml of coffee and 125 ml of hot water). It has three temperature levels and lots of other features for ease of use. It convinced the expert jury for the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2017, winning a Red Dot for the elements of the user interface, which are arranged clearly and facilitate intuitive use.
Take the time to make preparing and enjoying your coffee your own personal ritual.
And for your next coffee date or for Christmas time, we have included a recipe from the book “Kaffee Kult” (“Coffee cult”) from Yasar Karaoglu, published by Gräfe und Unzer in 2001.
Chocolate espresso beans for 4 persons
List of ingredients
- 50 g white chocolate
- 50 g roasted whole coffee beans
- 50 g whole milk chocolate
- Roughly 2 spoons of cocoa powder
- Greaseproof paper
- Break up the white chocolate and heat it over a hot water bath until it starts to melt.
- Gently stir the coffee beans into the chocolate with a fork, lift them out and place them at a distance from each other onto the greaseproof paper. Leave them to cool.
- Once the chocolate has started to harden, form the chocolate around the beans into small balls. Place them in the fridge until the chocolate covering has completely hardened.
- Break up the whole milk chocolate, melt it over the warm water bath, coat the coffee beans once again and shape them into balls. Dust the slightly warm balls with cocoa powder and leave them to cool.
(Sources: Kaffeezentrale, https://www.kaffeezentrale.de/kaffeeverarbeitung, Wikipedia, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaffee, Statistics on coffee and coffee consumption, https://de.statista.com/themen/171/kaffee/, as of:18 October 2017).
Posted on 27.10.2017