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? Here’s a “coffee 101” guide to coffee roasts from light to dark. 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. Before roasting, green coffee beans are soft, with a fresh “grassy” smell and little or no taste. The coffee roasting process transforms these raw beans into the distinctively aromatic, flavorful, crunchy beans that we recognize as coffee.
To enjoy the best possible cup of coffee at home, make sure your coffee is always fresh. Coffee is perishable. Coffee beans begin to lose their freshness soon after they are roasted. As coffee loses freshness, its natural flavors and aromas are diminished. So, all things being equal, the sooner the beans are used, the better the coffee. Properly stored, coffee beans will stay good for about a month after roasting. Ground coffee will last for one to two weeks after roasting. The key to preserving freshness as long as possible is to keep the coffee away from excessive air, moisture, heat, and light.