So here is a story you may not know. It starts with a tree (Coffea Arabica).
Grown as a shrub, this plant produces a fruit called a cherry. Within this cherry resides a seed. Most often two seeds rest together within the mature cherry. On rare occasion, a single seed will occur producing the touted peaberry bean. So, in fact, it is the seed of a stone fruit which produces the green bean that when processed and roasted, provides our coffee we love to drink. The carefully selected, mature coffee fruits are processed mainly in two ways: wet or dry.
Dry processed is the original method, taking unwashed fruit whole and drying it intact. Wet processed is washed and fermented to remove the fruitbody from the bean. The end result of either process is a green bean that is ready to be roasted. In the most utilized method of brewing (drip coffee) just 1.25% of your cup is coffee. These proportions allow very little room for error in quality, making the sourcing of green beans of the utmost importance. A classic example of a little going a long way.
The selection of an extraction method will dictate the roast and grind styles to be used. Examples of these differences in regards to grind size would be a finer grind for espresso and a coarser grind for French press. The secret to roast perfection lies in determining the proper roast degree for each varietal. A bright, wet processed Panamanian lightly roasted to accentuate it’s crisp high end notes, and a dry processed Sumatran roasted slightly darker, to enhance it’s full-bodied profile. Skillfully roasting beans unleashes the complex chemistry awaiting within, yielding the magic of drinkable art.
From Kaldi’s time to today, coffee has found favor and commitment from an ever growing kinship of cup. Join me in toasting this.
Randall Lee Ely @riverswalker
Next month. How do you brew?