What are coffee beans and where do they come from?

What are coffee beans and where do they come from?

Dubbed the most popular drink around the world, this alluring warm cup gives coffee-lovers daily satisfaction, with mountain data even suggesting that it has many health benefits. With moderate consumption, coffee drinking has been linked to lower risk of diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. With over 1000 chemicals in coffee, there is no doubt that there are many factors that play a part in its flavour. 


What are coffee beans?

Most people understand that coffee comes from a bean, but how they are cultivated to bring you your cup of morning joy remains known by few. 


The coffee tree can grow naturally over nine metres high, though they are usually stumped shorter to conserve their energy and help the harvesting process. This is because they have a better yield in a limited space. The trees sprout green leaves with the coffee cherries growing alongside them. It takes on average three to four years for this plant to produce fruit. The average tree produces around four to five kilos of coffee cherry every year. This plant is grown in a number of different varieties, which gives the beans many different characteristics around size and flavour. 


The coffee plant sprouts coffee cherries, and inside these cherries are their seeds. These seeds are known as coffee beans. The skin of this cherry is the exocarp. Before it ripens it is a green colour, until it turns yellow , pink or red depending on the variety. It is important to note the difference between the green coffee cherries and green coffee beans, where green coffee beans are the unripened seeds inside the cherry. 


After the exocarp is the mesocarp which is also known as the pulp in the cherry. It is combined with many layers full of sugars, which is essential in the fermentation process. Beneath this are the seeds or coffee beans, technically called endosperm. There are typically two beans in a cherry. 


There are more than 120 different types of coffee beans, but the two most famous varieties are the Arabica and Robusta beans. Arabica is the most popular, with its balanced flavour and aroma, while Robusta is known for its higher caffeine concentration. sources 1 & 2.

Single origin coffee beans are beans that originate from a particular place and are the result of a type of plant growing in one place. The Jimmy Grindz Single Origin this month is from Finca La Palapa, Mexico and has apple, peach, plum, cocoa and vanilla flavours. 


Instant coffee makers tend to use Robusta beans, which can have a bitter aftertaste and are preferred by people who brew their coffee fresh over the more aromatic Arabica beans. It is grown mainly for its aroma, so it is mainly used in the production of dark roasted espresso.


If you have seen a bag of ground coffee beans with "Espresso" written on it, the beans have been roasted more to a dark espresso roast. An espresso bean is simply the bean that is roasted to espresso, whether it is brewed with espresso machines or Delter Press processes. Traditionally Arabica beans are the most popular variety for espresso beans, as well as for coffee in general.

    

Robusta is much easier to grow than Arabica, which is why it is cheaper than other coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. In fact, caffeine is part of what makes the Robusta plant so robust, but it is up to the coffee drinker and his consumers to understand the effect of this stimulant, as all coffee beans contain a high content of it. Arabicas, on the other hand, contain less caffeine and tend to be higher quality, so they contain less caffeine, but are more nutritious than their more expensive counterparts. Want to enjoy the delicious flavour anyway, but don’t want the effects of caffeine? The Swiss water processed Columbian Decaf blend from Jimmy Grindz will bring you a clean taste with honey and cocoa flavours. 

    

The green beans are roasted on a scale from light to dark, giving us the coffee beans we know and love. Coffee beans that have been roasted for a longer period of time are less dense, but still dense, than coffee beans that have not been roasted for that long. If they are immature, they will not make a good cup of coffee, but they will cause a bad taste in your mouth, and they can change your taste for coffee when you buy them.


Where did coffee start?

How have coffee plants grown in the heartland of Ethiopia become the most consumed beverage in the world? Marco Polo is believed to have bought coffee beans there on his trip, and there are many theories about the origins of his prized distinctive taste. We’ve found that Ethiopia produces more than half of the world's coffee production, according to the International Coffee Association. 

    

One theory of coffee's origin is that people started roasting coffee beans in the 13th century, but as history tells, this was considered quite unlikely. We know that the coffee bean came from Ethiopia and that people started roasting and brewing it at some point, as we do today. One of these is the theory that foreign beans were cultivated in Ethiopia in the period after the Ottoman conquest of Ethiopia in the 14th and 15th centuries. 


Although there are many reports on the history of coffee dating back to the ninth century or earlier, the first evidence of human interaction with the coffee plant dates back to the mid-15th century and the first cup of coffee in the world was born. The roasted beans were ground, raked in embers, dissolved in hot water, and ground again, supposedly to produce the "first cup" of coffee in the world. 

    

The definitive legend of the origin of coffee also comes from Yemen and states that the coffee plant was discovered in Yemen and not in Ethiopia. Historians and researchers are unsure exactly where the coffee comes from, but the coffee plant was most likely discovered in Ethiopia and brought to Yemen, where its popularity took root. However, the first coffee tree of origin is believed to have been found in the Harenna forest, although it is the same tree found in the Ethiopian Plateau and not in Yemen. It then began to spread across the Arabian Peninsula and the Muslim world, although it is usually believed that Yemen was the first destination for coffee after leaving Ethiopia. After that, there were British entrepreneurs that turned the forests of Southern India into commercial coffee plantations and seriously cultivated coffee in the 18th century. 


As you can see, coffee and the coffee industry have come a long way in the last 100 years. While the 1960s heralded the first wave of canned coffee, the subsequent waves shifted from product to purpose. In the 1990s, we began to see more independent roasters and coffee shops emerge in the United States, most notably in Seattle, and the creation of Starbucks paved the way for coffee today. Internationally, the Starbucks craze began in the early 2000s, when many shops opened and it became cool to drink coffee at Starbucks.

    

Then, coffee spread rapidly in our society, and there was a big third wave of companies making a name for themselves. Coffee houses were springing up in the region, and many of these public coffee houses, called qahveh khaneh, popped up in cities across the Middle East. The public coffee house was established when coffee trade was established, but it was also enjoyed at home amongst friends and family. 

    

This trend underscored the coffee shop lifestyle, which is associated with high-quality, fair-trade, high-quality coffee and a sense of community. Flavour enhancers are designed to appeal to different market segments, allowing consumers to exercise choice and discrimination in the purchase of coffee that expresses their personal values and tastes. The personalisation of espresso beverages was the product of choice in the United States at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century with the introduction of espresso machines.

   

Where does coffee come from?

Nearly two-thirds of Australians drink coffee every day, but many don't know where the beans come from. The coffee beans that can be found on the shelves of cafes, restaurants and even coffee bars around the world, are Arabica coffee. Jamaica's Blue Mountain region coffee is often called "the best coffee in the world," but it is often overdone when it comes to price and quality.

    

Arabica coffee beans are grown in Costa Rica, a country whose huge coffee business makes it the second largest coffee producer in Latin America, supplying 15% of the world's coffee. They are also found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru and Colombia. Our popular Biggie Blend is sourced from Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nicaragua giving a smooth and chocolatey flavour. The natural process from Brazil provides chocolate and sweet caramel praline notes; Ethiopian Djimma brings a unique natural fermented fruit character, while the Indian elements bind the process together with a rich cocoa aftertaste. This one is a dark roast that gives a rich, full bodied BIGGIE punch. It’s a rich, denser crema and a smooth tasting espresso.  

    

As aforementioned, the coffee plants were most likely discovered in Ethiopia and brought to Yemen, where coffee gained popularity. Coffee plants are grown in certain regions of these countries, and this is known worldwide as the "coffee belt." However, the majority of coffee grown in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia comes from the tropical climate that these places in the world and other parts of Africa experience. Since coffee exports represent a large part of their GDP, the government monitors the production of coffee beans and other coffee producers in their countries, because they want to ensure that the coffee is of high quality. 

     

The different qualities of coffee

The first quality surrounding coffee is its body. This is how thick or heavy it feels on your palate during consumption. The acidity refers to a pleasant tanginess when first consumed on the palate. The most subjective of the characteristics is flavour, ranging from mild to rich. Go your own way with the medium bodied, vibrant and fruity blend of the Jimmy Grindz Fleetwood blend. This one has a rich and complex flavour that is best enjoyed in a milk based coffee. 


A coffee’s aroma is the distinct smell that will enhance its flavour. A light roasted coffee has a cinnamon colour, with lively acidity and a good body as well as intense aromatics. A medium roasted coffee is mid brown colour with nutty aromatics, also dubbed the city roast, or the American roast. Dark roasted coffee are distinctly darker in colour, will a trace of oil at the surface. Also named the french roast, this one takes on a more pungent flavour. Lastly, the espresso roast is very dark and almost black in colour. They are completely coated in oil and have a very strong flavour. This style of roast is the traditional Italian roasting style. 



What makes a good coffee?

Over the years, we have made it our mission to understand what goes into the production of good coffee and to appreciate the subtle differences that can be found in the world of coffee beans. Understanding how to get the best out of different coffee beans and roasts will help you choose the best type of coffee for you. 

  

If you are looking for the best coffee beans on the market, you will probably want to know the properties of the good ones. It is important to note that not all cups are created equal. There are many factors that go into creating that perfect cup, though as well personal preference plays a considerable part. 


The first factor is the source of the beans. Speciality coffee is considered to be the highest quality of coffee around the world. Speciality beans are sourced from the most  ideal climates globally in varying soil compositions with little defects. In turn you are left with beans that are flavourful and have character. 


Another important consideration is the freshness of the coffee. To ensure you are drinking the freshest coffee, get yours from a local roaster. This is because once the coffee beans are exposed to air they will begin to lose their freshness and flavour.


It is important to note that different coffees require a different grind. Ideally , espresso should use a fine grind, and french press a coarser grind. If you’d prefer to skip this step then buy them already ground at the cafe, though this will reduce the lifespan of the coffee so don’t stock up on too much at once. 


Getting your roasting right will either make or break your blend. It takes experienced roasters to understand how to emphasise distinct flavours within the beans and come up with a blend with great variety. From this, your brewing method will play a huge part in how strong your coffee is. Getting a ratio that works is crucial for great tasting coffee. As well as this, there are hundreds of brewing methods with their own variables that shape how your coffee will taste. 


As well as this, the way in which the milk is prepped is essential to a great tasting coffee. The milk you use should be fresh and cold, and steamed heated in a clean metal jug. Old milk and new milk should never be mixed for a different coffee, as different types of coffee require different types of milk preparation. For example, a cappuccino requires a foamy and robust milk texture, finished off with chocolate on top. A flat white on the other hand requires a more light and silky milk which will give a stronger flavour and bigger caffeine hit. 


Finally, cleanliness all round is essential for the best possible coffee. Always keeping your coffee machine clean is vital. In between coffees, cleaning out the old coffee beans from the group head is 



What makes a bad coffee?

An underlying problem is that due to the many variables of the coffee process, there are many factors that could potentially contribute to bad tasting coffee. With so many different methods of making coffee - from roasting coffee beans to brewing - it is difficult to limit this to one thing that makes coffee taste bad. 

    

Always remember that any poor preparation of coffee can result from a simple mistake in the coffee production process. Choosing the right coffee beans is one of the first steps to ensure the coffee is not bad. 

    

If the coffee beans you use to make your coffee are not roasted properly, they can give your cup a bad taste. If coffee tastes bad, the probability that coffee grounds are too large, so the taste is not appealing. But if you are a serious coffee drinker and don't mind a super strong taste, you can always add more instant coffee granules to boost the caffeine content. 


As well as this, if you brew with water that is too hot, then your coffee can have a bitter taste. A bitter taste can also result in brewing too long or too fine of a grind. To avoid a burnt taste it is essential that you keep your cap as warm as possible, as if this is kept too hot after brewing it will kill the flavour. 


If your coffee is sour this can be caused by an under extraction. If this is the case then simply do the opposite and brew for longer with a finer grind. Use this method if your coffee is tasting watery also. 



Cultural coffee preferences

The world’s most favourite hot beverage comes from the same plant, yet the ways in which it is consumed throughout the world seems almost endless. 


In Italy, where modern coffee culture was created, they prefer an espresso consumed hot at the bar giving a quick boost of energy throughout the day. Order a cappuccino after lunch and risk being branded as a tourist.


Mexico produces around 60% of the world's coffee, and provides specialty cafes in urban cities. Their coffee is slow grown in higher altitudes which allows a light to medium body and mild acidity which gives a complex flavour. Originating around 100 years ago in the working class cantinas, Mexicans would spike their coffees with liquor. Surprisingly, Mexicans haven’t totally embraced this culture and prefer their coffees at home and not in cafes. 


The Japanese are one of the biggest consumers of coffee, ranking at 4th in the world. Their coffee culture extends from traditional coffee houses, to canned coffee sold out of vending machines in the streets. The Japanese usually prefer a rich and uncomplicated coffee. 


Serving coffee is deemed an essential aspect of hospitality in Arab societies. Beans are lightly roasted in a pan over a coal fire. After, it is then also brewed over the fire. 


Likewise, The Dutch use coffee as a part of a social event and drink it consistently over the course of the day. As one of the highest consumers of coffee in the world, speciality coffee is undoubtedly on the rise in the Netherlands. 


Turkish people enjoy the warm beverage after dinner up until midnight, which is why you’ll find many coffee shops in Turkey open till late. It is usually sweetened in the brewing process and served with Turkish Delight. 

 

In the United States there is a preference for the coffee experience, where Americans utilise cafes as a workspace with an endless flow of coffee. At home, Americans drink filter coffee, which is believed to have a higher caffeine content than regular coffee.


There is a strong cultural preference for a latte over a regular coffee, especially in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It’s hard to compare the progressive nature and high quality of the coffee here in Australia, though many countries are adapting. 



Different coffee roasting processes

The quality of the coffee beans is extremely important and can affect the overall taste of your coffee as it brews. While it is widely understood that coffee beans are roasted, few of us understand the professional coffee roasting process and how it works. 


The roasting process is the process that provides heat to the green coffee beans, and to extract the highest potential of the coffee bean, a high amount of heat is present in the roasting process. How long you expose your beans to different stages of the roasting process definitely affects their final shape. The time you roast, the time it takes and the temperature of your coffee can all play an important role in how you approach the roasting process of the coffee. As coffee roasters get darker, they take more flavor out of it and lose the bean's original flavor. The weather conditions in which your coffee is roasted also influence the roasting time, and that is what determines the roasting. 


Firstly, seeds are picked from the cherries off a Coffee plant. At this stage they have a grassy aroma, before they are processed and dried. The beans are covered by a layer of epidermis or skin, known as the silverskin, as well as a hull called parchment or endocarp. To begin the dry milling process, the parchment is removed in the hulling. Then, machines remove any leftover parchment or fruit from the beans. Though, sometime beans are sold with this still left on, commonly known as parchment coffee.


During the roasting process, they can develop from 800 to 1000 aroma compounds which in turn develop the coffee flavour. There are three different stages to this process including drying, browning and roasting. 


The beans start by being dried in a drum roaster and typically last 4-8 minutes. The temperatures are now sitting at 160 degrees and smell like toasted bread. This is the browning stage where the roast is naturally slowing and starts to pop. This first crack is where the development and roasting stage starts.

    

Once you know the roasting dates of your beans, you can determine when they have peaked. The freshness of coffee beans is highly subjective, but there is no doubt that the quality of coffee beans is maintained for a year or more. You usually want to make your coffee at least three to five days after the roasting date, depending on how you brew it.


The beans have collected energy during these stages that makes it explode. The length of this final stage is generally 10%-25% of the roast time and depends on the desired roast degree and flavour profile. 


The way in which the skin is removed from the bean during different processing methods will affect the final flavour of the coffee. For example with washed coffee, all of the fruit is removed before it is dried. If the mucilage is left on, this will result in a sweeter and more full bodied coffee. 

 

If you're looking for a fun coffee brand that strives for zero waste in everything we do then please check out our Jimmy Grindz website or follow us on our social pages for some laughs and giveaways.

 

Sources: