Coffee comes from three coffee-growing regions, each with its own distinctive qualities. Indonesia and the Pacific produces coffees whose taste is smooth and full bodied, with low acidity and an often earthy flavor. In the Americas, coffee has high acidity with a clean and crisp taste. African and Arabian coffee tend to be bright and winey or floral, with a sparkling acidity, and a medium to full body.
A type of Fair Trade coffee that is not certified by a third party. Relationship coffee refers to a desirable level of trust and understanding between the farmer and the buyer. Fair Trade proponents believe that Relationship coffee often has the same or higher standards as its certified equivalent but, because the certification process often takes years, coffee producers can be trading fairly without being officially certified.
Roasting brings out coffee’s unique aromas, tastes and colors. When the temperature rises in a roasting machine’s rotating cylinder, the beans can lose 20% of their weight through evaporation. At the same time, the beans expand by 60% in volume from reactions that release the coffee’s flavor and aromas. In roasting, the temperature must never exceed 230° C (446° F). When producing a particular blend, the temperature must not vary from batch to batch.
The longer the roast and the higher the final temperature, the stronger and more intensive the final flavor. Roasting time is usually from ten to twenty minutes.
Roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide, particularly during the first few hours after the roast. – the outgoing pressure of the carbon dioxide exceeds the air pressure around the beans and the oxygen in air – which causes coffee to go stale – cannot penetrate the bean. As soon as the rate of carbon dioxide release slows, coffee begins to go stale.
Specialty roasters either produce small batches and ship them right away, or package them immediately in air tight bags with one-way-valves (sometimes called belly-buttons) that allow the remaining carbon dioxide to escape without allowing oxygen to enter. As well, specialty coffee is sometimes placed in hoppers pumped full with nitrogen, an inert gas that keeps air out without affecting the roasted coffee beans. The coffee can then release most of its carbon dioxide over the course of eight hours or so prior to packaging.
Robusta or Coffea canephora var. Robusta accounts for a growing share of world coffee production, some 10% to 15%. Robusta beans come from a high yield plant that is resistant to disease. Robusta trees grow taller, are more resistant to pests and disease, and produce more fruits than Arabica, yielding two to three pounds of green coffee a year. It does best at lower elevations and has harsh flavors. It contains about two percent caffeine. It is grown in Asia, Africa and Brazil, but not very much in Central America
The caffeine content of Robusta beans, at two percent, is about twice that of Arabica. Considered inferior-tasting, Robusta is often used for instant coffee and in supermarket-grade blends. Generic supermarket coffee is typically a blend of good Arabica, medium quality Arabica, and Robusta. The instant coffee segment is comprised primarily of processed Robusta and lower quality Arabica.
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