History of Coffee

Where did coffee originate?

Sometime around 850, in southwest Ethiopia, a goat herder noticed that his goats became excited after eating the berries of a certain shrub. Legend has it that he decided to try some of these berries and achieved similar results. The rest, as they say, is history. Coffee was first cultivated in Yemen around 1000. Linguists argue over the origin of the word, debating whether it comes from the word “Kaffa” or from the Arabic word “Qawah”.

How did it come into the world market?

Dutch traders doing business with the Ottoman Empire are generally credited with first importing coffee into Europe in the 1500’s via Constantinople. They then took the shrubs to their colonies in Java and Bali.

What is a coffee cherry?

The coffee plant is in fact a small to medium sized tree, the fruit of which is called the “cherry.” It contains two seeds or beans that are covered by a fleshy pulp membrane. Once ripe, the cherries are typically handpicked and the outer layers are removed by either a wet or dry method. Then, the beans are cleaned, dried, graded and inspected.

What are green beans?

After they have been cleaned, dried and graded, the coffee beans are called “green” beans (they may be pale green to dull yellow in color). In this state, beans are shipped to their destination where they will be roasted, blended, ground and distributed.

What are the characteristics of the coffee plant?

The coffee shrub has a life span of 70 years and reaches its highest yield in 5 to 7 years. It can flower and bear fruit (up to 30,000 per year) at the same time. It grows primarily in the tropical regions of the world but will not flower if temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are the two most common types of green beans?

The two most common types are Robustica and Arabica beans. Robustica beans are of lower quality with higher caffeine content. Arabica beans are of higher quality with lower caffeine content. Jeremiah’s Pick uses only 100% Arabica beans.

What is “cupping”?

A cupping, or cupping session, is a coffee tasting. Cuppings occur before coffee beans are purchased, to ensure quality and to test the balance of flavors for blending purposes. Cuppings are similar in many ways to a wine tasting. During a cupping session, the coffee is not swallowed (spittoons are required) and a specific procedure is followed for assessing the quality of the coffee imperfections resulting from old, diseased or unripe beans, as well as from yeast or fungus can be detected. As with wine tasting, the more air that is circulated in the mouth while tasting, the better the sense of flavor balance the taster will get. Cuppings involve a detailed identification of flavors and tastes. These categorizations range from aroma taints like “improper roasting” which would come across as “tipped,” “scorched” or “baked,” to internal changes such as “fats changing chemically” which would taste “horsey” or “sweaty.”

How does the roasting process work?

While there have been significant advances in the uniformity and quality of the roasting method, the principle remains the same. Raw coffee beans are heated to a temperature of 355 and 415 degrees Fahrenheit. As they heat, they lose a large part of their water and increase in size. A popping noise, much like that of popcorn, can be heard as gasses inside the bean expand.