Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark, slightly acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Coffee can have a stimulating effect on humans due to its caffeine content making it one of the most-consumed beverages in the world.
When grown in the tropics, coffee is a vigorous bush or small tree easily grown to a height of 10-12 feet. It is capable of withstanding severe pruning and cannot be grown where there is winter frost and grows best at high elevations. To produce a maximum yield of coffee the plants need substantial amounts of water and fertilizer.
There are several species of coffea that may be grown for the beans, but Coffea Arabica is considered to have the best quality. The tree produces red or purple fruits which contain two seeds. In about 2-5% of any crop of coffee cherries, the cherry will contain only a single bean, rather than the two usually found. This is called a “peaberry” and contains a distinctly different flavour profile to the normal crop with a higher concentration of flavours especially acidity, present due to smaller sized bean. As such, it is usually removed from the yield and sold separately.
Legend has it that Coffee was first discovered in Abyssinia by a shepherd Kaldi, who noticed that his goats were quite happy after they had eaten a red cherry on a shrub. He then ate one of the cherries and found that it had a wonderful stimulating effect on him. This effect was then exploited by monks at a local monastery to stay awake during long hours of prayer and meditation.
The average cup of coffee contains six ounces of water. When measuring your coffee you should use 1 heaped tablespoon (6-8 grams) or 2 levelled tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. However, you may increase the amount of grounds if you desire a stronger brew.
Proper storage of your coffee is important for the retention of strength, flavour and aroma. Coffee at all times should be locked away from air and moisture and should be stored in airtight glass containers with rubber seal in a cool, dry place. The storing of coffee in plastic bags with one-way valves is also acceptable but you should ensure that the bags are airtight sealed upon opening. For whole beans, it is recommended that you storage is done in the freezer in re-sealable valve bags.