I’m about to blow your mind. Coffee, your morning & study fuel comes from a fruit. Those small “beans” everyone knows and loves are actually the seeds of the coffee cherry, which is grown on coffee shrubs in mountainous regions across the “coffee belt” (the coffee belt spans the world equatorial belt and provides optimal condition for coffee growing.
There are two key species of coffee grown, Robusta and Arabica. Robusta is a very sturdy and easy to grow species, although Robusta coffee’s are known to produce very harsh and bitter tasting coffees. Robusta coffees are often used for low quality coffee products such as instant coffee or commercial pre-ground coffee.
Arabica coffee, which contains double the sugars and fats molecules of Robusta coffees produce much different coffees which are much more sweet and complex. These properties make Arabica seeds much more attractive to specialty coffee roasters to give their customers much more interesting coffees to serve and drink.
Within the species there are also different varieties. If looking at the Arabica species there are multiple varieties such as Pacamara, Bourbon and Gesha. This is much like many other fruits, for example if we are looking at apples (species) there are many different varieties, such as Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Gala.
Upon picking the coffee cherry they are processed in many different ways (which I could get into in a future post). The key objective of this processing is to remove the seeds of the cherry to send to coffee roasters around the globe. It’s from this stage that roasters will take these green coffee beans from farms around the world to the brown, roasted beans everyone knows and loves.
The actual cherry which is left over after the processing of the coffee seeds is often dried and prepared as a tea. This is known as cascara and is gaining extreme popularity around the world (much of this popularity can be attributed to specialty coffee shops introducing this to consumers, and the recent menu additions corporate giant Starbucks has made). Cascara is known as having a very sweet and clean flavour.
When I first learned where coffee actually came from my mind was blown. The nuances and flavours we are able to unlock from the seed of this fruit are unbelievable and can be attributed not only to the person brewing the coffee, but the roasters and growers of these coffees as well.