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Posts Tagged ‘ Coffee Beans ’
You don’t need an expensive Nespresso machine to make tasty coffee at home, you just need to know how to unlock the flavour of your coffee beans. A decent ca…Continue Reading »
Specialty coffee is coffee made from exceptional beans grown only in ideal coffee-producing climates. The unique characteristics of the soil where the coffee plants are grown combined with the ideal climate creates distinctive flavors that makes specialty coffee beans so sought-after. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as gourmet or premium coffee.
The First Specialty Coffee
The first person to ever use the phrase “specialty coffee” was Erna Knutsen, who coined the term in the 1974 issue of the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Knutsen, then a coffee buyer for B.C. Ireland in San Francisco, came up with the term while trying to describe beans with outstanding flavors due to the special microclimates used in their cultivation.
From then on, the phrase became a common term used to describe flavorful, high quality coffee. But it was not until the late 1990s, when the proliferation of cafes and gourmet coffee retailers, that the term specialty coffee entered common usage.
That, combined with the ever increasing popularity of coffee drinking has made specialty coffee one of the fastest growing food service markets in the world. In 2004, specialty coffee netted an estimated $9.6 billion in the US alone.
Why Specialty Coffee?
For the simple reason that a cup of specialty coffee tastes infinitely better than a cup made form ordinary coffee beans. From the time the coffee plant was cultivated to the time they are harvested, dried, and roasted, specialty coffee beans are prepared according to exact standards to ensure great tasting coffee. What’s more, specialty coffee must pass stringent certification process to ensure that it is free of flaws and imperfections, in an test called the “cupping method.”
What is Cupping?
If you consider yourself a specialty coffee aficionado, then you probably heard of the term “cupping” and probably even know the meaning of it. But for the benefit of others who don’t, cupping is a system of evaluation used to test the aroma and taste of coffee beans. Growers, buyers, and roasters employ the cupping method in order to “grade” the quality of a particular sample of specialty coffee.
Generally, there are six things that you should look into when cupping:
* Fragrance or the smell of the beans after grinding
* Aroma different from fragrance in that it is the smell of ground-up beans after being steeped in water
* Taste or the flavor of the coffee
* Nose in much the same way as the term is used in wine tasting, it means the vapors and flavors released by coffee in your mouth
* Aftertaste – or the vapors and flavors that remain after you swallow
* Body the feel of the coffee in the mouth
The steps involved in cupping specialty coffee are often very exact and is actually a step by step process. That is why buyers, owners of specialty coffee houses, and brewers hire only trained individuals to do their cupping for them.
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Heard about organic coffee? Want to know what an organic coffee is? Well, according to several researches, the concept of organic coffee has long been considered in the coffee industry as a special practice. The concept actually holds the idea of protecting the environment from harmful chemicals and pesticides that may pollute and destroy the groundwater and may cause erosion in coffee farms when the farms are cleared. Also, it goes beyond protecting the environment as the organic method may help protect the coffee farmers from degenerative diseases like cancer.
With such reasons, many of the coffee farms these days highly prefer the organic method of coffee farming. They cultivate their coffee plants by organic means producing coffee without the use of pesticides and other chemicals. The coffee is grown and cultivated purely and naturally and this practice is deemed by many as beneficial to coffee producers and to its consumers as well.
In the organic coffee industry, much emphasis is given to the way the coffee is produced. The emphasis may extend to the recycling process, composting, health of the soil where the coffee is grown, and even to the biological activity that takes place in the coffee farm. All of these are maintained for the long term protection of the coffee farm and the environment. It’s no wonder then that in this kind of environment, synthetic chemicals are highly avoided.
For the farmers knowledge, to market a highly organic coffee is to pass certain laws maintained by the Department of Agriculture. In the United States, for a coffee company to be able to market a certified organic, the farm from which the coffee is taken must be inspected first to receive the so-called certification. What usually happens during this practice is that in every step of the processing chain, the inspectors work to track the coffee beans as they are transferred from the source to the cup.
In addition to that, it is maintained that to protect the integrity of the process, the organic coffee must be sold to the certified importers and roasters. Well, the advantage of this process on the part of the consumers is that people who love coffee will then be guaranteed for the purity of the coffees they buy. And, to make the organic coffee obvious to the consumers, the USDA has announced that 95% of the organic products must bear the label “organic”.
With certain laws and rules passed, several organic coffee products are now marketed free from pesticides and herbicides. They are now marketed anywhere in the world and it was noted that about 50% of the products bear the organic label with the organic ingredients. So if you want to help protect the environment and yourself from synthetic chemicals, the organic coffee products will surely fit your needs.
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Known throughout Hawaii and to the world, Kona coffee is a gourmet type of coffee. It comes from Hawaii, but is grown and cultivated solely from the Kona region, which is located on the west coast of the Hawaii Island.
Kona coffee is commercially valued for its distinct aroma and flavor. It is one of the most expensive types of coffee available on the market, and many consumers have considered it as the best of the best.
But what makes the Kona coffee really best?
There is one factor that makes Kona coffee such a special variety the tropical environment from which it is grown. According to some researches, Kona is grown and cultivated on the dark volcanic lava rock slopes of Kona, Hawaii. They grow in rich volcanic soil where sunny mornings and cloudy afternoons strike to provide a natural shade. The plants are shielded by the volcanoes from strong trade winds that would otherwise destroy the coffee plants. The volcanoes also give Kona the ashen soil from which they grow and thrive to produce the gourmet beans. Growing in this kind of unique environment, it’s no wonder that Kona coffee possesses a distinct edge over the other coffee varieties available in the world.
The way the Kona coffee is processed and produced also play a vital role to Kona’s being a great variety of coffee. Typically, the coffee is harvested by hand. The beans are handpicked carefully, usually from late August to late January. Perhaps what is interesting to know about the Kona coffee production is that they are handpicked meticulously to ensure that only the matured beans are harvested, and since the coffee beans of this kind do not ripen all at the same time, each coffee plant will be picked by a number of times throughout the harvest season.
The Kona coffee is also pulped, dried and then hulled prior to being graded. The beans are sorted into a number of sizes, shapes and grades with the use of machinery. They are sun dried and roasted depending on what is desired by the company. What usually happens during the sun drying process is that the beans are pulped first to remove the outer flesh. It is fermented to provide it a clear flavor and is thoroughly washed in clean water. Then, they are sun dried typically on huge decks, known throughout Hawaii as hoshidanas. Once dried, the Kona coffee beans are milled and prepared for the roasting process.
Speaking of roasting, Kona coffee is usually roasted in a number of ways. For instance, the flavored Kona is either sprayed or powdered immediately after roasting, and many of the Kona coffee producers have maintained this technique to provide the coffee an added flavor. Just like the other varieties, the Kona is roasted in different degrees, depending on what is desired. After the roasting, the oxidation process follows, leaving the Kona coffee at its freshest stage.
Prepared and produced in such processes, Kona coffee tastes deliciously rich. They are slightly acidic and are commonly distinguished for their heady aroma and spicy, wine-like taste. Today, Kona comes in a number of varieties, and one of the most valued varieties is the pearberry.
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Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
Produced in the valleys where the sounds of reggae and gospel music drift freely across and over the highest peak the Blue Mountain itself Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a world-famous classification of coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The classification is specifically noted for its mild flavor and lack of bitterness.
Over the last several decades, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee has developed a reputation for being excellent, making it the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world.
In fact, the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is so valued that it is protected worldwide as a certification trademark. This means that only coffee certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica can be labeled as Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. The Board is monitors the production of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee from its cultivation to its production as coffee beans or ground coffee sold all over the world.
By the Coffee Industry Regulation Act, the types of coffee that may use the label Blue Mountain are specified, in addition to the general restriction of coffee that may use the Blue Mountain trademark. In broad, the said Act states that coffee harvested from the parishes of Saint Andrew, Saint Thomas, Portland, and Saint Mary may be considered as Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.
Below are the specific boundaries defined by the Act:
“Starting at Skibo and proceeding in an east-south-easterly direction to Swift River;
thence east-south-easterly to Chelsea;
thence east-south-easterly to Durham (Samba Hill);
thence south-easterly to Belleview;
thence south-easterly along the western slope of the John Crow Mountain to Cedar Grove;
thence westerly to Font Hill;
thence north-westerly to Ramble;
thence westerly to Good Hope;
thence north-westerly to Dallas;
thence north-westerly to Industry Village;
thence north-westerly to Maryland;
thence north-westerly to Golden Spring;
thence northerly to Brandon Hill;
thence north-easterly to Tranquility;
thence east-north-easterly to Skibo.
In addition to these fairly extensive boundary restrictions, only coffee grown at elevations between 3,000 to 5,500 feet may be called Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. If the area of cultivation is only between 1,500 and 3,000 feet, the coffee is called Jamaica High Mountain while those at 1,500 feet below are called Jamaica Supreme or Jamaica Low Mountain.
Under the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee label, there are five classifications. They are the following:
* Blue Mountain No. 1 For Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee to be graded No. 1, 96% of its beans must have a screen size of 17/18.
* Blue Mountain No. 2 For coffee to be graded Blue Mountain No. 2, 96% of the coffee beans must have a screen size of 16/17.
* Blue Mountain No. 3 96% of beans must have a screen size of 15/16/17.
* Blue Mountain Peaberry 96% of the beans must be peaberry.
* Blue Mountain Triage the bean sizes are varied and no more than 4% of the beans must have significant defects.