A World of Coffee

Coffee is consumed by thousands per day, across all corners of the globe.  I, myself, am a professional barista who loves coffee, and can’t go a day without one.

This is going to be an evolving page, in which I will comment on coffee I have experienced worldwide.

Common name:  Coffee
Genus:  Coffea
Family:  Rubiaceae
Speices grown for consumption:  Coffea Canephora and Coffea Arabica

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The Coffee plant is an evergreen shrub that can grow as tall as 15’.
The fragrant flowers grow in clusters, which then form in to oval berries.  When the berries ripen to a crimson colour, they are then harvested.  In many places, harvesting is still done by hand – the beans are sorted, and the flesh of the bean is removed, exposing two beans.  There is a layer of flesh that remains, which is to ferment naturally.  After the fermentation process, the beans are washed to remove the residue, before the beans are set out to dry.  Drying tables are considered the best method, as well as the most traditional.  Arabica berries take about 6-8 months and Canephora take 9-11 months to complete this process.

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After the drying process, the beans are roasted.  The roasting process is what gives the coffee its unique tastes, by changing the structure of the coffee both chemically and physically.  Roasting begins when the inside of the bean reaches a temperature of 200ºc.  During this period of intense heat, the starches break down and become simple sugars – this is known as caramelization.

The longer the roasting process continues, the more sucrose is lost, and the aromatic oils and acids weaken, changing the flavour.  Caffeol is oil created during the process which gives coffee the distinctive flavour and aroma.

The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the mid 15th century in Yemen.

Tonga:
The plantations in Tonga are at the lowest altitude of any coffee plantation in the world.  There are two main coffee plantations – Tupa’anga and Kingdom Koffee.  I was invited to take a tour of the Kingdom Koffee plantation, and thoroughly enjoyed learning how much effort was put into my morning addiction.  It was here that I sampled a fresh coffee berry for the first time, and found it had quite a pleasant, sweet taste. I was shown how the coffee was grown, picked, dried and roasted on site, and I was rewarded with a lovely latte, with an added Heilala vanilla bean, which left the coffee with a smooth, aromatic, beautiful taste.

Melbourne, Australia:
The coffee in Melbourne is considered some of the best in the world, and the baristas of Melbourne take their jobs very seriously.  The streets of Melbourne are lined with eclectic little coffee houses, and you’d be hard pressed to walk down the streets of Melbourne and not get sucked into a café by wafts of the aromas.  You are spoilt for choice in the quaint café’s hidden in the back streets and alleyways.

My favourite Melbourne coffee experience came when, after five lattes in three hours, I could not stomach another one.  Instead, at Patricia Coffee Brewers, I opted for a coffee berry tea.  Six ripe, crimson coffee berries were added to hot water, to make a refreshing, flavourful herbal brew.

Johannesburg, South Africa:
While I was in Rosebank, Johannesburg, I stumbled across a café called Nino’s, during my morning hunt for caffine.  To my delight, Nino’s served coffee with attitude.  I tried a peppermint latte which was essentially a latte served on a melted peppermint chocolate bar.  The next morning I returned for my fix and opted for a Bar One latte, then the next for a Railway latte (a latte served with condensed milk.)  Nino’s may not have been good for my waistline but it was heaven in the form of sickly sweet coffee!

Watch this space for more on coffee from around the world!

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