How coffee became the most traded commodity in the world, second only to petroleum...
According to legend, coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around 850 AD by a goat herder named Kaldi. The goat herder was curious about the powers of the berries on coffee trees after he noticed a certain perkiness in his goats soon after they'd swallowed the seeds. Once people realized they too could gain some perk, coffee's popularity escalated rapidly. Even the monks found the berries useful in staying awake during long prayer sessions. Over time, coffee grew in popularity throughout the eastern hemisphere even receiving endorsement from Pope Clement VIII as an acceptable Christian beverage. Explorers brought coffee to the West in the early 1600's.
Over a hundred years later as colonists in New England sought independence from the Mother Land, the Boston Tea Party made coffee-drinking an act of patriotism. Other political actions, like Prohibition and war, helped boost coffee's popularity in America. In World War II, the coffee in the soldiers' rations was a staple of G.I. Joe and the origin of the term "cup o' joe". Since overtaking tea in consumption in the 1990's, coffee is now the beverage of choice in the Western world. Over 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year! That's amazing when you consider the bean's journey from the tree into your cup.
From the tree to your morning brew...
Coffee grows on small, shrub-like trees in regions near the equator. Coffee "beans" are actually seeds of the fruit produced from the trees. In general, coffee growers agree that the higher the elevation in which coffee tree grows, the better the quality. When coffee trees flower, they produce small green berries-known as coffee cherries. It takes over nine months for these cherries to ripen. Since ripening occurs at different rates, the cherries are usually hand-picked. One tree produces about 2,000 cherries, only enough for ONE pound of coffee!
After picking, the coffee beans are removed from the cherries and sorted by size and quality (grade). Farmers sell the green beans to brokers and then they are distributed throughout the world.
The quality and the handling of the green beans are important to the taste of the cup, but not as important as the roast. Knowing the distinct flavors of beans from different origins and roasting them to the point of optimal flavor is both an art and a science. For serious roast masters, this is a life-long learning experience. Once the coffee is roasted, it is packaged and ready to be ground for brewing. No wonder we have such a bond to our coffee.it's an amazing journey into that cup.
Tips for mastering the perfect cup of coffee in your own kitchen...
Always use freshly roasted beans and grind them just before brewing.
Store beans in an air-tight container in your pantry. (Beans stored in the fridge or freezer will absorb the odor of other foods)
Use clean equipment and fresh, clean water.
Use the right grind! (coarse for coffee presses, fine for espresso and medium for drip coffee makers)
Our recommended method...
The easiest and most economical way to make great coffee at home is to start with a coffee press. Coarsely grind fresh beans (we suggest our Kenya AA which is especially delicious when prepared this way!). Put about 1 T. for every 4-6 oz. of water in the bottom of the press pot. Boil water and wait 45 seconds. Then pour water over the grounds. (Don't fill it all the way to the top because the coffee will expand.) In about 1 minute, stir gently. Wait another 3-4 minutes and then slowly press the filtered disk down until the grounds are at the bottom of the pot. Pour into cup. Drink and enjoy! Pour the rest into a thermal carafe to keep warm. If you want to avoid the sediment and stray grounds, pour through a filter before drinking.
This article is courtesy of LaSalle Street Coffee Roasting Co. Where only the finest beans get selected to to create their special roast, and the only coffee beans of choice for Brooks Cafe.