Where Is It From, What Is The Best, And What Is The Best Between Arabica Or Robusto?
Arabica or robusto?
The National Coffee Association estimates 54 percent of American adults drink coffee every day. Another 25 percent enjoy an occasional cup. Despite this national passion of the roasted bean, many consumers are mystified when they walk into their local emporium. They know a good cup of coffee when they taste it, but they don't know their arabica from their robusto.
Learning a little bit about coffee and becoming literate in its language will help you talk beans with the best of them. But, more important, it will help you consistently choose varieties you enjoy. So, if you think snap is something you do with your fingers, read on.
Body, snap and aroma
The taste of any brew is affected by three primary characteristics -- aroma, body and snap. Aroma is the smell of the coffee and it is important because we all rely on our sense of smell to enhance taste. Some coffees have a lighter, more floral aroma than their richer relatives. The aroma is more apparent in a pure brew like Kona than in coffee blended from a number of different kinds of beans.
Body is the texture and thickness of the brew. If translates into how the coffee feels in your mouth, anything from watery to heavy and creamy. A good comparison would be the difference between a bite of orange and a bite of banana. The latter is heavier and has more body. Some cafeteria coffees are orange ade and some that are espresso blends are banana cream pie.
Snap is the amount of acid in a particular coffee. But don't relate it to the acidy flavor of burned or overcooked brews. Without some snap, which is enhanced in the roasting process, coffee would be bland and it would all taste the same.
Once you are familiar with the differences in snap, body and aroma, you can learn which coffee beans brew a beverage you enjoy. Here's a quick look at the characteristics of coffees from different regions:
- Columbia -- This is one of the most productive coffee producing regions in the world. Columbian coffees are slightly sweet, full bodied and less acidic than many other varieties.
- Guatemala -- Coffee from Guatemala has a lot of snap and a smoky aroma.
- Hawaii -- Hawaiian coffees are fragrant mildly acidic. They are known for their full body and mild, but rich flavor.
- Kenya -- Kenyan coffee is has more snap than that produced in many other regions. It makes a cup with medium body and a fruity aroma.
- New Guinea -- Coffee from New Guinea is often compared to that produced in Hawaii. It produces a mellow brew with a medium snap and a rich aroma.
Roast your own
Some adventurous coffee lovers have taken to roasting their own beans. There are a number of home roasters on the market ranging in price from around $100 to $500 and up. Green coffee beans are available from a number of internet sites including www.greenroastery.com and www.beancentral.com.
But, before you decide to invest in a roaster you might want to experiment with roasting your beans at home. It's a good way to learn how dark a roast you enjoy and your friends will marvel at your ingenuity.
All you need is an oven, a good fan and an old colander. You need to be aware that coffee left too long in the oven will catch fire so you can't pop it in the oven and go out for a walk. But any coffee left long enough to catch will be well beyond the point that you would consider brewing it.
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Put a cup of coffee beans in the colander and cover the top with aluminum foil. After 10 minutes raise the temperature to 450 degrees. When the beans begin to crackle (after another 10 minutes or so) begin monitoring their color every two minutes.
When the beans are a warm brown take them out of the oven. You don't want to let them get too dark because they will continue cooking while they cool. When you remove the beans from the oven they will be smoking so you'll want to place them outside or by an open window. That's it. When the beans are cool you can grind them and brew your homemade coffee.
Brewing basics How much ground coffee you use per cup is a matter of personal taste. A good rule of thumb is to begin with two tablespoons per cup and adjust from there. Fresh roasted coffee is richer than brews made from grounds that have been languishing on a grocer's shelf so you probably want begin with a little less than you normally would.
Water affects the taste of the brew so you may want to use
bottled spring water or filtered water, especially if your water has a
chemical taste. When you heat the water you don't want to boil out all the
oxygen so warm it just until it is simmering with little bubbles. It's also
a good idea to preheat the carafe or pot you will be using to
serve the brew. After you've made your coffee it can be kept warm for about
20 minutes before it becomes bitter. If you need to keep it warm any longer
it's best to store it in a thermos, but don't expect the quality
to remain acceptable for more than a couple of hours.