When you drink your morning cup of coffee with its welcoming aroma and smooth taste, do you think about what’s in your cup and where it came from? Coffee (the genus Coffea) is part of the botanical family Rubiaceae, one of the largest families in the plant kingdom. There are some 25 species of coffee plants, but only two, Arabica and Robusta, provide almost all the coffee we drink. And did you know that coffee is a cousin of the gardenia?
Coffee 101: The Basics
There's so much to learn about coffee. Here's some basic coffee information to get you started on your journey to becoming a coffee guru, or at least a more knowledgeable coffee drinker.
“This Is Coffee!” This stylish 1961 film by the Coffee Brewing Institute is a guide to brewing the perfect cup of coffee. The key to successful coffee? Care, care, and more care. The opening of the 13-minute film sets a menacing mood. An alarm clock ticks and a kitchen faucet drips, over a jazzy film noir score. When the alarm goes off, a tired woman awakes, trudges downstairs, and goes through the motions of brewing a pot of coffee. Her coffee is weak and unappetizing. But with a little care, she can do so much better!
What’s your favorite coffee roast? Dark? Light? Somewhere in between? The degree to which coffee beans are roasted is one of the most important factors that determine the taste of the coffee in the cup. The roasting process transforms bland raw beans into the distinctively aromatic, flavorful, crunchy beans that we recognize as coffee. Here’s a “coffee 101” guide to coffee roasts from light to dark.
To enjoy a great cup of coffee at home, make sure the coffee you’re brewing is as fresh as possible. Coffee is perishable. It begins to lose freshness soon after roasting. As coffee loses freshness, its natural flavors and aromas are diminished. To reduce the likelihood of brewing stale coffee, use your coffee as soon as you can, and when you store it, keep it away from the four agents of deterioration: excessive air, moisture, heat, and light.