Coffee Flavor And Body Types

A brief article about coffee and how to interpret words such as body and flavor types.

The coffee plant originated in a region of Ethiopia called Kaffa, but was later discovered by Arabia and relocated there. They created the first coffee drinks, adding cinnamon and other spices as flavors. Coffee was exported other countries and eventually spread all over the world.

The two main coffee species that are grown commercially are Arabica and Robusta. Coffea Arabica is the basis for three-fourths of the world coffee supply. Brazilian coffees, from Colombia, Peru and other countries are called Milds. Coffea Robusta, which as about twice the amount of natural caffeine as Coffea Arabica, are used more in special blends. Countless varieties come from these two plants, with certain varieties growing better depending on the area. Harvesting seasons vary and follow the natural ripening of the berries on the plant.

Once harvested, the beans must be removed within a couple of days to prevent the pulp from fermenting. There are two ways the extraction is performed. The Dry method produces a 'natural' coffee since the sun is used to dry the berries. Frequent stirring is required and takes around 18 days to complete. Dry produced coffees are sweet and have a heavy body. The Wet process is more complicated and results in the 'washed' or 'mild' coffees. There are about seven steps from cleaning the berries to removing impurities. This newer process gives a coffee that is fruitier and has a different level of acidity.

There are five grades of coffee beans. Grade 1 or the Specialty grade has almost no defects. The next four grade levels vary based on the number of defects. Other adjectives that are useful in knowing where and how the coffee was processed are aroma, body, acidity and flavor. An aroma result from the gases released by the coffee as it is brewed. The body is how heavy a coffee seems to taste. It is perceived at the back of the palate and is affected by the brewing method with some descriptions being light, heavy or thick. A regular drip coffee machine gives a lighter coffee while an espresso machine gives a heavy body. Acidity refers to the taste of the coffee. A low amount of acidity will result in flat tasting coffee. Flavor is a generic description of the first impression of the coffee. It is formed based on the combination of the acidity, aroma and body. Some of the adjectives include nutty, spicy or smokey.

Roasting affects the taste of the coffee. There are many levels of roasting with even more variety coming from the company roasting the beans. Generally, the darker the bean is roasted, the heavier and stronger will be the taste. Roasting levels start out at cinnamon or American and progress through New England, light, medium, full city, French and Spanish. Some coffees have nuts, chocolate and other flavors added during the roasting process. Coffee blends are used to balance out differences between coffees. One of the more popular blends is the Mocha-Java blend.

For best results, grind your own coffee beans. Buy enough to last for two to four weeks. The longer the coffee is stored, the more flavor is lost. Store in an airtight container, either in the shade or in the refrigerator for best results. Use fresh, cold water for your brewing, even if you have to use bottled.

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