Before I think about getting out of bed in the morning, I am dreaming about a hot cup of java that will help enlighten my senses and give me that jolt of energy I need to jumpstart my day. What is your go-to drink every morning? A nutritious smoothie? A glass of juice? Or is it a cup of coffee?
According to USA Today, around 83 percent of adult Americans drink coffee each and every day. So if you reach for your coffee maker to satisfy your morning drink cravings, you’re among the many of the early risers that do. So if you’re asking yourself, “What is coffee?” or “What is the history of coffee?” here is a brief overview and how it affects our lifestyle and shapes our lives day to day.
What Is Coffee?
Coffee itself is actually a brewed beverage derived from roasted coffee beans. These beans come from the seeds of the coffea plant. There are hundreds of varieties and types, which makes each and every cup that you make unique and different from the last. Even the same types of beans can produces different tastes and flavors with each new cup. This depends on when the beans were picked, how they were stored and of course, how they were brewed.
Beans brewed longer may have a slightly more mild taste than a fresh bean that was ground and brewed for a shorter period of time. Coffee is mainly grown and cultivated in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, although it is grown in many other parts of the world as well. The most common types of coffee available today include Robusta and Arabica. Arabica is commonly found in most commercial restaurants and eateries around the world.
What Is Coffee Made Of?
- Dark Brown
- Light Brown
The darker the shade of the ground coffee, the stronger or more bitter it tends to taste. The lighter the bean, the lighter the coffee flavor in your cup. Depending on what your preference is, choosing something that suits your taste buds will likely become your favorite go-to flavor either in the morning or maybe a different color in the evening, if you wish to have something more mild and mellow with an after-dinner dessert.
If someone were to ask you how to describe how coffee tastes, your answer may differ from the next person. While everyone has a personal preference, one some terms that may come to mind when describing coffee include:
It truly depends on how the coffee is picked, processed and sometimes dried. After the beans are picked, they are often processed using the wet method. This process removes the inside pulp from the cherry, allowing the bean to be dried with just the parchment portion of the skin remaining. This separates the pulp and skin from the bean, getting it ready for drying. The lighter beans float to the top, while the heavier more ripe beans go to the bottom.
From there, the beans are moved to large water tanks to aid in fermentation. This involves the removal of the layer of mucilage that is still stuck to the parchment side. This fermentation process allows natural enzymes to dissolve this layer. After this process, the beans are rough to the touch and are then rinsed and prepped for drying.
Beans must be dried to at least 11 percent moisture to get the ready for storage. To do this they are placed on large drying tables or machine dried in giant tumblers.
Beans are then milled. This process prepares them for final packaging and distribution.
Hulling is the first step. This removes the parchment layer completely and preps for polishing.
Polishing removes any excess silver skin and prepares the beans for the final steps.
From there, beans are graded and sorted for proper distribution to manufacturers and private buyers. Bean size plays an important role in how the beans are bought and distributed. Larger beans will yield a better sale, as opposed to smaller, irregular beans.
Once sold, beans are then tested by more individuals as they are determined where and to whom they will be sold to from there. Throughout the coffee manufacturing and distribution process, it is tasted and tested. This is referred to as cupping.
The cupper or taster looks for several things:
- Visual quality
This includes using several samples from the grower and giving his analysis of the each batch of beans. The differences are noted and passed along to help create the best match for each buyer.
Roasting is one of the last steps before the coffee beans reach the consumer. A roasting machine is used and the temperature will be a large determining factor into the final taste of the coffee. Beans are constantly moving during the roasting process so that they avoid burning or scorching on one side. Once the roasting is complete, they are packaged and shipped.
Many consumers, like yourself choose to buy the roasted beans and then ground them at home. Others prefer to buy them already ground and ready for brewing.
Now that you understand a few key points about coffee, here is a brief history lesson.
A Little About The History Of Coffee
It’s believed that coffee was first discovered by the Ethiopians in the ancient coffee forests. Goat herders found the many tasty benefits of the coffee bean. The effect of alertness and energy when drinking the brewed beans quickly spread into the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, Europe and eventually in the 1700’s, the Americas.
The quick growing coffee seedling, made it more valuable and beneficial to new growers. Soon, the seedling was taken and transplanted to tropical and mountainous areas
throughout the nations. Within the 18the century, the coffee plant became so popular and sought after that it had quickly become the most sought after commodity on the planet.
Coffee also became the go-to drink for everyone from commoners and families to being sought after at some of the finest royal tables around the world.
Today, coffee is available almost everywhere ranging from a cheap diverse morning drink, to a delicacy that is admired and in some cases, very expensive and valuable.
Coffee has become a favorite morning drink in the U.S.and is a breakfast favorite. Many specialty coffee chains have popped up over the past 20 years and boosted their name brand with coffee flavors and other morning delicacies that draw in the masses.
What’s Inside A Coffee Bean?
While the coffee that you drink each morning contains the extracts from the coffee bean itself, it also has water in it to help dilute the grounds and provide flavor. From there, the water leaches out the flavors and oils from the coffee grounds. This makes it more drinkable, because the grounds from the beans are very strong and often bitter.
Deep inside the bean, coffee has an array of ingredients that make it very sought after by java enthusiasts. This includes:
- Caffeine– Helps to provide a mild stimulant that blocks neuroreceptors in your brain that promote sleep.
- Quinic Acid- This component gives your java a sour taste, but plays an important role in balancing the flavor.
- 2-Ethylphenol- Aids in giving the coffee bean its aromatic smell.
- Dimethyl disulfide- Another odor booster, that’s created once the bean has been roasted.
- 3, 5 Dicaffeoylquinin acid- Contributes to one of the few antioxidants found in coffee.
- Niacin- Offers a boost of vitamin B3 into your cup of Joe.
Coffee is more than just a favorite morning drink, it also offers a lot of medicinal properties. It offers a natural way to get a quick boost of energy. It can also sharpen your senses, making it easier to concentrate on your existing task at hand.
With every high, there is also a low. Suddenly stopping the use of coffee and caffeine intake can lead to headaches, lethargy, and extreme tiredness. A gradual weaning off from coffee is recommended, rather than stopping your intake suddenly.
What Are Some Of The Common Uses Of Coffee?
The question that usually comes up with those unfamiliar with coffee is, What is coffee good for? Also what is it used for? Coffee is most commonly used as a hot drink, generally drank in the morning to help boost energy and alertness. It is also served cold or frozen, to provide an alternative way for enjoying its consumption.
Coffee is also extracted in flavor form to provide a base for many other foods and desserts, including:
- Ice cream
- Cupcakes and baked goods
- As a seasoning for chili or meat
Coffee is sometimes also used as a fragrant base in many homemade and commercial candles and wax. Coffee scented wax is a popular trend in many décor stores and online retailers.
Coffee beans in a glass dish can help balance out odors and keep smells in places like closets or smaller rooms neutralized. In areas such as your refrigerator, coffee grounds can help absorb bothersome odors.
Coffee grounds are also very beneficial in the garden. Their powerful effects are derived from natural elements to help fertilize soil including:
Other trace minerals found in most coffee grounds provide a good base compost for most soil. This also promotes worm growth—an additional benefit to promote an excellent soil base.
In some cases, coffee grounds in your compost may also help repel bothersome insects in your flower or vegetable garden. Ants, slugs and mosquitoes are known to be resistant to coffee grounds. Simply start up a compost pile outside for your garden. As you begin to add household waste and materials, don’t forget to set used coffee grounds aside to add to the pile. By spring, you should have a nice pile of compost and natural materials that can be incorporated into your soil as you plant your veggies or annuals.
If you’ve been having issues with the neighborhood cats digging and defecating in your garden beds, you may want to try coffee grounds. Coffee grounds mixed with ground up orange peels can help deter cats and other wild animals. Place the mixture on the surface of the soil in and around your plants and garden. The other benefit is that this is an all natural way to combat pests from spoiling all of your hard yard work. It’s humane and safe.
Some crafters use coffee grounds to help provide a stain to muslin or other light-colored materials. This provides a primitive or well-worn look that is admired by some country decorative buyers. Coffee stains can also be added to cardstock to create a vintage inspired look and background for a variety of papercrafting projects. This provides a good and safe alternative to traditional chemical-based paints that are a popular option in craft and hobby stores.
Some artisans use coffee to create a colorful palate for their latest art project. All you need is a strong cup of coffee with strained grounds and a good paintbrush.
Coffee is often used as a cleaning agent. The abrasive nature of the grounds provides a gravelly texture that many people consider an all-natural cleaner. Not only does it safely scrub away food and grime, it also absorbs grease, oil and other odors left behind after a messy meal.
People who seek out all-natural beauty products, may seek out a coffee-base ingredient option. Coffee helps to gently exfoliate and target dirt and oils that may lead to pore buildup and acne.
No matter what type of reason you have for bringing coffee into your life, one thing is for sure, there are many uses and it shapes our lives in many different ways. From drinking and enjoy its rich aroma, to using it throughout the day for cleaning or deodorizing, choose the best brand and type to fit your lifestyle.