Coffee has played an important role in many societies throughout history and today it is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. The earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of the Yemen in Southern Arabia. It was here in Arabia that coffee beans were first roasted and brewed in a similar way to how it is prepared today. From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, Indonesia and the Americas.
When buying roasted coffee, make sure it was recently roasted. Check the bag for the date the coffee was roasted or a freshness date. If buying beans, look for beans that smell and look appetizing. If buying from a coffee or gourmet shop, ask if you can taste it.
Once roasted, coffee beans must be stored properly to preserve the fresh taste of the bean. The container must be airtight and kept cool, since its flavour is affected by its contact with air, moisture, heat, and light. Folded-over bags are generally not ideal for long-term storage because they allow air to enter. However, it is recommended to preserve the coffee in a vacuum seal bag using a vacuum seal system.
Arabica: The original and most highly regarded species, Arabica coffee is native to the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia and Southeastern Sudan. Arabica comprises about three-quarters of the coffee cultivated worldwide. It is mostly cultivated in Latin America, Eastern Africa, and Asia.
Robusta: A native to Western and Central Sub-Saharan Africa, Robusta coffee contains about 40–50 percent more caffeine than Arabica. Although not regarded as highly as Arabica beans due to its bitter taste and less flavour, Robusta coffee has better body than Arabica and it’s used in some espresso blends to provide a full-bodied taste and better foam head or cream. Today Robusta coffee beans are grown in Western and Central Africa, throughout Southeast Asia, and to some extent in Brazil.
Most popular uses:
Espresso: Brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee, it has a thicker consistency, a higher concentration of dissolved solids, and crema.
Cappuccino: Made with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The foam acts as an insulator and helps retain the heat of the liquid, allowing it to stay hotter longer. Cocoa or nutmeg powder is usually sprinkled on top.
Caffé Latte: It’s made with approximately equal parts of espresso and hot milk.
Latte Macchiato: Macchiato in Italian means stained. This drink is made by pouring a shot of espresso into a glass of hot steamed milk. The emphasis is on the steamed milk.
Caffé Macchiato: Made with a small amount of coffee and a small amount of hot milk. This is a smaller drink than the latte macchiato and the emphasis is on the coffee, not on the milk.
Irish coffee: Made with coffee, Irish whiskey, thick cream, sugar and a steady hand.