Saturday, 11 August 2012

Coffee - the Essential Caffeine Boost.

A good cup of black coffee.

“Is that black enough for you?” a new colleague asked as she placed a mug of dark brown coffee down on the desk.
I tried to diplomatically explain that black coffee is coffee without milk.  And gave up.  As they say, if you want anything done…
But this episode did have me thinking.  Almost anywhere in Europe if you ask for coffee it automatically comes black.  In the UK ask for coffee and it comes with milk.

Little did our ancestors realise when coffee was introduced to Europe that it would become such a popular beverage and be responsible for the start of so many businesses.
England’s connection with coffee is well documented, from the Warehouses to Coffee Houses – especially in the City of London.  The first coffee house to appear was opened in 1652.
These coffee houses are responsible for much in our life which we now take for granted.  Not only did gentlemen gather to drink coffee, they did business.  And from that sprang Lloyds of London and insurance houses, financial institutions and importers of various commodities.  Stockbrokers moved from the Royal Exchange into Garraway’s Coffee House which is why attendants at the Stock Exchange are still called waiters.
And, of course, artists and writers would gather to exchange ideas.

It isn’t known exactly when and where coffee was first cultivated.  Some think it started in Arabia near the Red Sea in about AD 675.
The first coffee drinkers are reported as having experienced sensations ranging from exhilaration to religious ecstasy. 
It wasn’t until the 15th and 16th centuries that the trees were planted in the Yemen in any large degree. With the increase in coffee consumption in Europe in the 17th century the Dutch began to cultivate it in their colonies – especially Java.
In 1714 the French took a live cutting to Martinique.  This was the founding plant for the coffee plantations of Latin America.
Nowadays coffee comes from around the globe – Latin America, the West Indies, the Africas, Indonesia, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and – India.  Yes, they produce coffee as well as tea.

The coffee tree is a member of the tropical Madder family.  Other members include quinine and ipecac.  There are also some temperate members, namely rock plants and the gardenia.
Coffee 'cherries'
The trees reach a height of 15-20ft. with fragrant white blossoms that last only a few days and several months later the small green fruit develops.  These gradually ripen into the deep crimson “cherries” which are carefully harvested.
There are three basic species – Arabian, Robusta and Liberian.  The main commercial varieties being Arabian and Robusta.  Even these are broken down into yet more varieties.  In the Western Hemisphere the Arabicas are divided into Brazils and milds.  Robustas are only cultivated in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The Brazils are mostly Santos, Parana and Rio (named for the ports from which they are shipped).
Milds, Robustas and other Arabicas get their names from the countries and districts where they grow.

The production of coffee beans is by heating them in rotating horizontal drums.  The varieties depend on the temperatures at which they are roasted.  Light at 193c., medium at 205c. and dark at 218c.
An important person in the production of good coffee is the Blender.  He needs a good “nose” to produce the required flavour from a blend of different coffee beans.
The beans are either packaged as is, ground and sealed in vacuum packs, or made into other types of coffee such as instants and decaffeinated.
This last originated in Germany.  Ludwig Roselius, a coffee merchant of Bremen, is responsible for the invention called Kaffee Haag.  (Now for a plug.... I have an article about Bremen on

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