Considering that coffee beans are grown in over 70 countries across the globe, it is amazing how the right conditions for growing quality beans exist in such a narrow range. It is also amazing how small the total output of actual weight is when compared to other agricultural commodities.
Actually, the word coffee bean is a bit of a misnomer. The part of the plant that is roasted and turned into the drink we admire is actually a seed. The coffee tree can grow as tall as twenty feet or higher and produces a fruit. Inside the fruit is the pit or seed. Maybe it should have been termed a coffee seed instead?
The optimal coffee growing regions of the world lie within twenty-five degrees latitude north and south of the equator. Within these regions the optimal temperatures range from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the optimal rainfall is six inches a month (or more).
Other coffee growing requirements include a well drained, loamy soil and the high humidity produced by the abundant rainfall and mists especially prevalent above the 3500 feet elevation levels. Because lower light levels are also preferred, coffee is often grown in shade provided by shelter or natural environmental features.
The majority of coffee grown is the coffea canephora, or robusta, variety. Robusta can be grown easier at lower elevations and possesses more disease resistance than other types. However, really good gourmet coffees are grown at high altitudes and includes varieties of the coffea aribica species.
Coffee trees spend their first five years or so reaching maturity. The first crop, which only yields about two pounds of coffee, usually does not occur until that time. Each pound equals about 1,000 beans which must be hand picked and sorted. This is the main reason coffee is typically high priced.
You may be surprised to learn that coffee trees blossom over different periods based on location. Further from the equator in areas of Mexico, for example, the trees will be in bloom for up to eight weeks. Conversely, in areas nearer the equator, the trees will be in blossom over a much longer period which produces a longer harvest period. Picking the mature berries, or fruit, requires skilled workers looking at each berry daily.
From first blossom to complete harvest the total time frame is up to nine months depending on meteorological factors. The coffee trees continue this cycle every year during their lifespan of about twenty to twenty-five years.
Some of the regions where coffee is grown are very inaccessible. The conditions are harsh to say the least. Nonetheless, each year thousands of pounds of coffee are brought down, processed, and delivered to our homes or markets.
The next time you reach for a cup of coffee, consider the long journey it has taken to reach you. Growing coffee is an amazing process that makes the price of each cup seem not so expensive after all!
Coffee is taken seriously in the United States but not anywhere near the same as in Europe. We enjoy our coffee and many people rely on the morning cup of coffee to jump start them but we have a ways to go before we can compare to the Europeans for truly relaxing in a coffee shop and enjoy a good espresso. In our hustle and bustle we will go to a coffee shop but often it is for a coffee drink to go. There are those who will be sitting around the coffee shop but often times it is more to use the internet than to sit down for good conversation and enjoy a cup of great coffee. There are places to enjoy a good filter coffee in Chicago like in many metropolitan areas.
Another way to enjoy a gourmet cup of coffee is to join a monthly club and receive the best of the best directly to your home. There you can use a professional quality espresso machine and have friends and family join you for a great cup. Even if you are one to grab a cup in the morning to jump start you at least you are starting with a delicious cup of the finest coffee around.
Often these coffee clubs send the very best coffees from the best roaster in the country. Having a discerning taste for coffee is something that can be cultivated with the aid of those who sent the coffee or through reading and discussing the coffees subtleties with your local barista or with other aficionados. It is not only fun and interesting to broaden ones horizons it will be something your guests will appreciate when you have a dinner party and serve after dinner coffee that sets your dessert off perfectly.
What’s a cup of coffee? For one person, it’s a million dollars. If only Ron(ald), had only told her it was hot! I think iced coffee caught on shortly after that, right? I’m drinking iced coffee whenever I can. I have noticed that there is no label to warn the unsuspecting public that iced coffee is extremely cold relative to hot coffee. I am hoping one day I can have my iced coffee served cold enough so I can sue for brain freeze.
I was around eight years old when I discovered coffee. Not “old enough” to experience the taste yet, only the sight and the smell. My grandparents had an unusual way of drinking coffee. They used a cup and a saucer. They used the cup to hold the coffee and the saucer from which to drink the coffee. Pouring the coffee into the saucer allowed it to cool faster. Not being able to pour the coffee back into the cup, of course, they drank it from the saucer. It was all cream and no sugar for them.
Coffee’s aroma is most pleasing. Maybe it’s that you can tell a fresh pot of coffee is brewing from a long distance. Setting a coffee start timer to make coffee in the kitchen about 15 minutes before you are to start your day is a nice, gentle way to wake up. The aroma gently arrives to tantalize and coax you from your slumber. You smile and pull the cover a little closer around your chin, knowing you have employed your domain to your advantage. Still, in your still your half slumber, you realize the coffee is getting closer to ready, but not closer to you. Maybe it’s the kitchen’s aromatic arrogance, where the coffee is brewing that makes you a little jealous. “Smell that?”, the kitchen teases. “I have fresh coffee all to myself while you are laying there asleep. And guess what”? The kitchen continues, “I’m going to have the pot burn the coffee in a little while…hehe…so you just continue to sleeeep. In quiet defiance, you reach for the tasseled, velvet rope that hangs by your canopy bed so may request your maid at your convenience. The maid will bring your coffee just like you prefer it. You don’t care for strong black coffee. You like your coffee with a rich chocolate base and maybe a touch of thick cream that will give your yearning tasted buds the feeling of hot, smooth satisfaction that has that your nose has convinced them is only moments away. Where is the maid? You reach to tug gently again on the velvet rope…
Suddenly a shrill, not so intermittent, sound breaks the dark, quiet silence. You jerk the cover off your body and sit up awkwardly trying to prepare yourself for whatever evil having waylaid the maid now seeks bring onto you the same ill will at any moment. The sound continues loudly; it is close and it is relentless. Reaching around you, failing your arms, you think, what can it be? Then you grab its tail…got it! As you yank furiously, the noise suddenly stops. Holding the now incapacitated beast by the tail in one hand, you rest your head in your other hand and gather your thoughts. Having become wide awake during your ordeal, you realize, now, you are holding the cord to your alarm clock.
Rising from your bed in semi-disgust and realizing you do not have a maid, you mumble and shuffle to the kitchen. You reach for your favorite coffee cup and glance at the coffee pot. You forgot to set the timer. “Oh well”, smiling as you think back a few minutes, to your wonderfully constructed, and abruptly interrupted dream, “The maid was a nice touch.” You’ll get coffee on the way to work. It will be made just the way you like it.