9 facts about the fuel that keeps chefs going: coffee

19-08-2020 in Ingredients
9 facts about the fuel that keeps chefs going: coffee

Most chefs prefer their cuppa Joe black... And in copious amounts. Coffee keeps you alert and keeps you going, and we can all use some of that. In this blog we share nine facts about the black gold! 

#1: The origins of the berry

The story goes that shepherds in Ethiopia discovered coffee in the ninth century. According to the legend, a shepherd noticed how hyper his goats became after eating a certain berry. A local monk then turned the berry into a beverage and couldn't sleep all night. Behold! The cup of coffee was born! And that also means that coffee beans are actually coffee berries, also called coffee cherries.

#2: Growing and flowering

With four billion coffee trees, Brazil produces approximately a third of the world’s coffee. Next on the list of largest producers are Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, and India. Although the yield varies from harvest to harvest, one coffee tree produces between 1.4 and 2.5 kilogrammes of berries per year. This equates to an average of about 285 grams of roasted coffee. The coffee berry consists of a skin, flesh, pergamino (hard skin that protects the coffee bean), and usually two coffee beans.

#3: Robusta and arabica

There are more than 50 different types of coffee produced across the world. Yet, there are just two types, arabica and robusta, that account for 99% of the world's coffee production. Arabica originates from the Middle East and robusta comes from Congo. Robusta coffee has a slightly more bitter and flatter flavour than arabica beans which are softer and fuller. The robusta bean is smaller and has a rounder shape while the arabica bean is larger and more oval. Arabica beans are more than ten times more expensive than robusta beans on the world market. Arabica beans also contain less caffeine than robusta beans. 

#4: Roasting

More than 800 aromas and flavours are released when coffee beans are roasted. The longer the bean is roasted, the more bitter the coffee will become while roasting for a short period creates a more tart flavour. The coffee beans go through three stages during roasting: heating, caramelizing, and cooling. As soon as the roasting begins, the coffee beans lose moisture, turn brown, and crackle. Coffee roasters call this the first 'crack'. In the second phase, the temperature is raised to around 200°C to allow a Maillard reaction to take place, with the sugars and proteins giving the beans flavour. Finally, cold air and cold water ensure that the process of roasting is stopped abruptly. 

#5: Caffeine

We won't beat around the bush: espresso contains less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee. It's true! So when you really want an energy boost, drink filter coffee! The amount of caffeine in water depends on how long the coffee is in contact with water. The longer the coffee is in contact with water, the higher the caffeine content of your cup of coffee will be. An average cup of coffee contains about 90mg caffeine. Caffeine usually starts to work fifteen to twenty minutes after consumption and the energising effect can last between eight and fourteen hours. This differs per person. 

#6: Making the perfect cup of coffee

There are very serious competitions for making the perfect cup of coffee. But what exactly do you need to look out for? When making a great cuppa java, pay attention to the following six points: the dose of ground coffee, the contents of the cup, the extraction time, the grain distribution (grinding), the temperature, and the pressure. 

#7: Tasting and judging

Aroma, acidity, body, and taste are the main factors on which coffee is judged during tastings. You use all your senses to taste and judge coffee. When you look at the crema layer, remember that the colour, thickness, and marbled effect don't say anything about the quality but they do say something about the freshness of the beans and how strongly the coffee is roasted. 

#8: Espresso and espresso beans

Nope, there's no 'x’ in the word espresso! And did you know that there's no such thing as an espresso bean? This name is nothing more than pure marketing and is something that you often see on retail packaging. Espresso is just made normally with 'normal' coffee beans and the word espresso refers to the brewing method and not to a kind of bean.

#9: Latte art

Latte art is literally art in the milk foam of, for example, a cappuccino. Shapes are made in the milk foam using special pouring techniques. Latte art is not only decorative: if the drawing stays in the milk, it means that the foam and the coffee are perfectly made, serving as proof of great quality!

And as an encore, a last rather silly and useless fact: did you know that people who buy their coffee to-go wait in line for an average of 45 hours per year?  

Do you totally feel like coffee now? Then brew yourself a cuppa Joe and take a look at the fifteen components of coffee.

Go to the components chart for coffee