Understanding Coffee and Its Process

Coffee is a drink enjoyed by people all over the world. It has a long history dating back to the 10th century, and it is believed to have originated in Ethiopia. Coffee quickly spread to other parts of the world, including the Middle East, Persia, Turkey, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. Today, drinking this beverage is an important part of many people’s daily routine.

Coffee appreciation can be a complex and overwhelming endeavor, much like wine. Every cup is unique, and the flavor can be affected by factors like the origin of the beans, the roast, and the brewing method. Today, you will understand coffee tasting a little better, so you can enjoy your morning cup to the fullest.

Traits of Coffee

Aroma

The sense of smell is closely related to our sense of taste, which is why aroma is such an important part of coffee appreciation. Before you take a sip, take a moment to put your nose to the cup and let the aroma engulf you.

Depending on the coffee, common aromas include caramel, smoky, carbon, fruit, nutty and spicy. Some of these aromas may be subtle and thus challenging to detect for the everyday person. However, it never hurts to try because getting a good whiff will only help to enhance its flavor when you drink it.

Acidity

Acidity is one of the qualities that give coffee its unique taste. It is commonly associated with coffee beans grown at higher elevations, and thus deemed of a higher quality. And with this drink, there are many different varieties of acid type. This can range from citric acid found in arabica to Malic acid that provides coffee with a fruit-like flavor.

If you’ve ever gotten a sour stomach from coffee, you’re not alone. In fact, many drinkers of this beverage associate highly acidic ones with an upset stomach. However, it’s not all types of acid that are to blame, but rather a specific type known as Quinic acid.

Quinic acid increases in stale coffee that has been roasted or brewed a long time ago, and rarely is from the origin of the coffee bean itself. So, next time you reach for a cup of joe and your stomach starts acting up, you know what might be to blame.

Body

Coffee’s body is a measure of its texture, and you can get a sense of a coffee’s body by how rich or intense it feels on your tongue. Just like with aroma, there’s no one set way to describe a coffee’s body. Different coffee drinkers will use different words to try and capture the feeling.

There are two common terms used to describe different types of body, “heavy-bodied” and “light-bodied”. A heavy-bodied one will have a thicker and more viscous texture, while a light-bodied coffee will feel thinner and less viscous. You can easily understand the difference between a heavy body and a light body by comparing the feel of whole milk against skim milk as it settles in your mouth.

Flavor

Coffee flavor is, quite simply, the taste of your coffee. Is there a hint of honey? Do you taste vanilla? Does it taste like a mix of nuts and caramel? The descriptors of coffee flavor, just like when describing coffee body, are as wide ranging as one’s vocabulary. Sweetness and Bitterness, among the other factors mentioned such as Acidity and Body, are common go-to descriptions when it comes to describing a coffee’s flavor.

Brewing Methods

Brewing coffee is a lot like making tea. You need to infuse the roasted coffee beans with water to extract their flavor. There are many different ways to brew coffee around the world, each with its own unique finish. For example, in the West, people use coffee machines, while in the East, people often use a sock brew method.

Filter Method

Brewing coffee using the filter method is a classic way to do it. You’ll need to grind the beans by hand, then put them in a pot with hot water that’s around 96°C (204.8°F). After letting the mixture steep for about 3 minutes, you’ll need to pour it through a filter to separate the grounds from the coffee. This brewing method produces coffee that’s not as heavy, and the acidity becomes more pronounced.

Press Coffee

The French Press is the most common type of Press coffee. To make it, coffee beans are first ground and then placed in a flask with hot water. Once the coffee grounds and water are mixed together, a plunger with small holes is used to press down on the mixture and force the coffee grounds to the bottom.

This allows the liquid to seep through the holes and produce a stronger cup of coffee. However, more coffee grounds are needed for this method than others.

Drip Coffee

When making drip coffee, you’ll need a filter and coffee grounds. Place the filter filled with the grounds over a pot, then pour hot water over the filter. The water should drip slowly through the filter into the pot.

This process is called “drip coffee” because of the slow dripping nature of the infusion. However, keep in mind that some liquid may pass by faster or slower than others due to the nature of liquid moving through coffee grounds. It may take some trial and error to determine the right extraction time and filter type that works best for you.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is a drink that’s already been made and is just waiting to be turned into a hot beverage. You’ll find these little packets of coffee powder at most stores, and all you need to do is add hot water to make a cup.

The coffee grounds used for this type of coffee are often lower quality than other brewing methods, which can affect the taste. If you’re looking for a quick cup of joe with less effort, instant coffee is a decent choice. 

Key Takeaway

Appreciating coffee can be complex and intimidating, similar to wine. Every cup has its own unique flavor profile that can be impacted by various factors such as the beans’ origin, the roast, and the brewing method. However, just like with wine, part of the fun of coffee appreciation is diving deep into these different flavors and profiles to find your favorite.

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