Coffee is grown in more than 70 countries around the world and the largest producing countries are: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Mexico.
For nearly 150 years Brazil has been the leader: the country produces an average of 30 million bags annually, which is one third of the total world production. Brazil produces the high-quality species of coffee – arabica, known for its strong flavor (contains about 90 aromatic substances), sour-sweet taste and low caffeine. The second largest producer of coffee – Vietnam produces mainly the other major species – robusta. Robusta has an intense bitter taste, faint aroma (contains only 4 flavoring substances) and higher caffeine content. A varying ratio between these two varieties creates a whole palette of flavors and aromas of coffee.
It is believed that the history of coffee began in Yemen and the north-eastern parts of Ethiopia, and consequently it was grown in the Arab world. The oldest credible information for drinking coffee is from the mid-15th century and refers to the Sufi communities in Yemen. From the Muslim countries coffee drinking spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe and to America.
Coffee fruits are gathered manually or with machines when they redden, and the harvest is usually carried out once a year. There are various kinds of coffee bean processing: wet, dry and semi-dry. In the wet processing of coffee fruits, the coating of the beans is removed prior to drying, whereas in the dry processing or so-called natural processing, the whole fruit is allowed to dry in the sun. The hybrid method of semi-dry processing is used in Brazil and Indonesia and allegedly reduces the acidity of the beans. Next comes the grinding process, which removes the last vestiges of fruit on coffee beans. Grinding is followed by cleaning and sorting. Certain varieties of green coffee are left to age, and it is believed that this improves their taste characteristics.
Roasting follows, which itself is a whole science. Coffee is roasted in ovens with a capacity of several kilos to several tons. Green beans are poured into a drum that is pre-heated to a certain temperature, which is not constant and depends on factors, which are carefully monitored. The process of roasting takes 10 to 18 minutes. Green coffee loses between 12 and 25% of its weight, depending on the variety and on the level of roasting.
There are several levels of roasting:
Cinnamon Roast at 196 ° C
Light Roast at 205 ° C
American Roast at 210 ° C
City Roast at 219 ° C
Full City Roast 225 ° C
Vienna Roast at 230 ° C
French Roast at 240 ° C
Italian Roast at 245 ° C
The brightest roasting is the color of cinnamon, and the darkest is the Italian Roast. Lighter roasted coffees express better their local characteristics – taste, variety, processing, altitude, soil and climate conditions of the region where it is grown. In darker roasted coffees, their local tastes are replaced by those created by the firing process. The darker the coffee, the more difficult it is to distinguish its local flavor.