August 01, 2010

Coffee: Stimulating Your Sense Of Well-Being

"A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship." - Turkish proverb
Ever got confused with the variety of the coffees? I was when I saw Blue Mountain on the menu. I really had no idea what it was and I couldn't tell the difference till I read about the varieties.

Coffee beans by Flickr user Used under a CC license BY-NC-ND

Coffee comes from blending roasted coffee beans with water and/or milk. These beans are seeds of coffee cherries that grow on trees in over 70 countries. The first cultivation of coffee can be traced in Yemen in 575 A.D. From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Italy (Sixteenth Century), then to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas. The Dutch contributed to mass planting of coffee beans in its former colonies - in Ceylon and in Indonesia since the Seventeenth century.

Coffee was once a luxury, but now it has found a place in the rational dietary of all the civilized peoples of earth. It has become something more than a beverage. People drink coffee because it adds to their sense of well-being. Coffee is also a stimulator because of its caffein and caffeol contents. The caffein increases the capacity for muscular and mental work without any harmful reaction. The caffeol supplies the flavor and the aroma and the fragrance that induces an addictive sense.

A good coffee can be produced when the coffee beans are carefully roasted and properly brewed, producing a natural beverage, which is often aided by a good coffee machine.

Varieties of Coffee:

The two most commonly grown varieties of coffee are the Coffea arabica, highly regarded with less caffeine; and the 'robusta' form of the Coffea canephora, stronger than arabica. Ripe coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried for sale. The seeds are then roasted to varying degrees to obtain the desired flavor.

Coffee arabica has different varieties, each with unique characteristics and probably you have heard of these:
  • Blue Mountain - From Jamaica's blue mountain region
  • Bourbon - Produced in Réunion and Latin America.
  • Colombian Coffee - 12% of Coffee market, freshly roasted, bright acidity, intensely aromatic
    Ethiopian Harar
    - Complex, fruity flavor resembling red wine
  • Mocha - From Yemen, Not to be confused with the preparation style (coffee with cocoa).
  • Panama - From Panama, Costa Rica, highly regarded
  • Santos - Arabica from Brazil
  • Sulawesi Toraja, Kalossi - From Indonesia, Sulawesi exhibits a rich, full body, well-balanced acidity (slightly more than Sumatra) and is multi-dimensional in character. It has dark chocolate and ripe fruit undertones. It is an excellent coffee for darker roasting
  • Timor, Arabusta - From Timor, Indonesia, a hybrid of two species of coffee; coffea arabica and coffea canephora (also called Robusta).
  • Typica - worldwide known in different names - Criollo, Arabigo (Americas) Kona (Hawaii) Pluma Hidalgo, Garundang (Sumatra) San Bernado, San Ramon (Brazil) Kents, Chickumalgu (India)
Preparation styles:

Coffee may be brewed by several methods: boiled, steeped, or pressured. Brewing coffee by boiling was the earliest method, and Turkish coffee is an example of this method.

Automatic coffee machines brew coffee using gravity. hot water drips onto coffee grounds held in a coffee filter, allowing the water to seep through the ground coffee while extracting its oils and essences. The liquid is collected in a pot, and the spent grounds are retained in the filter.

Coffee may also be brewed by steeping in a device such as a coffee press. Caffè espresso, or just espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee.

From the different coffee beverages, some common ones are listed below:

Espresso-based, without milk
  • Caffè Americano - is a style of coffee prepared by adding hot water to espresso, giving a similar strength to but different flavor from regular drip coffee.
  • Long black - is similar to Americano, but prepared in different order; most common in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Ristretto is an espresso drink where the weight of the ground coffee is equal to the weight of the brewed shots. The result is a "shorter" shot that is sweeter and more flavorful.
Other varities - Bica, Lungo

Espresso-based, with milk
  • Caffè latte is often called simply latte, which is Italian for "milk", A latte comprises one-third espresso and nearly two-thirds steamed milk. ("café au lait" in France, "café con leche" in Spain, "kawa biała" ("white coffee") in Poland, "Milchkaffee" in Germany, "Grosser Brauner" in Austria, "koffie verkeerd" in Netherlands, and "café com leite" in Portugal)
  • Caffè macchiato, is an espresso with a little steamed milk added to the top, usually 30-60 ml (1–2 oz), sometimes sweetened with sugar or flavored syrup. This differs from latte macchiato below which is milk "marked" with espresso.
  • Cappuccino comprises equal parts of espresso coffee and milk and froth, sometimes sprinkled with cinnamon or powdered cocoa.
  • Galão is a Bica (Portuguese espresso) to which is added hot milk, tapped from a canister and sprayed into the glass in which it is served.
  • Mocha is a latte with chocolate added.

Brewed or boiled, non espresso-based
  • Black coffee is drip-brewed, percolated, vacuum brewed, or French-press-style coffee served without cream. Some add sugar.
  • White coffee is black coffee with unheated milk added. Some add sugar.
  • Kopi tubruk is an Indonesian-style coffee similar in presentation to Turkish coffee
  • Indian filter coffee, particularly common in southern India, is prepared with rough-ground dark roasted coffee beans (e.g., Arabica, PeaBerry), and chicory. The coffee is drip-brewed for a few hours in a traditional metal coffee filter before being served with milk and sugar. The ratio is usually 1/4 decoction, 3/4 milk.
Alcoholic coffee drinks
  • Black coffee with brandy, or marc, or grappa, or other strong spirit.
  • Irish coffee - with Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream.
  • Café royal, with a flambéd and slightly caramelized teaspoonful of sugar and cognac.

Frappe by Flickr user Klearchos Kapoutsis. Used under a CC license CC-BY

Cold coffee drinks:
  • Iced coffee is a cold version of hot coffee, typically drip or espresso diluted with ice water
  • Frappé is a strong cold coffee drink made from instant coffee. Preparation: one spoonful of instant coffee (and sugar if one wishes) in a shaker with some water (and milk). It is shaken hard enough for one minute, then icecubes are added and it is served with a drinking straw because of the "foam" that is produced.
  • Ice-blended coffee (trade names: Frappuccino, Ice Storm) is a variation of iced coffee.
  • Affogato is a cold drink, often served as dessert, consisting of a scoop of ice cream or gelato topped with an espresso shot.
Further reading: All About Coffee, by William H. Ukers

Disclaimer: This entry was produced under the influence of drinking a cup of Toraja Arabica coffee made in Turkish style.


  1. Maybe at the next GV Summit it should be a coffee bean exchange instead of beverage exchange? In Budapest Victor brought me some amazing coffee beans from Malawi. They kept me well caffeinated for the next month.

  2. Yeah that would be very interesting. I will surely be introducing some of the Indonesian coffee to my friends. What about the coffee habits of the Mexicans? They surely need a stronger version to beat the Tequila hangovers.

  3. No mention of Fairtrade coffee?