Coffee has been the drink of humanity ever since its discovery.
Whether you are an artist searching for your muse, a writer in quest of your inspiration, or a simple accountant punching numbers all day long, inevitably your day starts with a steaming mug of coffee.
Coffee is so much entwined in our daily lives that the break we take amidst loads of work is aptly termed as ‘coffee breaks’.
What is special about coffee?
Since coffee is loved by billions of people all over the world, let us understand what makes coffee the most admired beverage.
The answer to this question is quite simple.
The heady combination of flavor and aroma makes coffee a delightful drink to begin the day.
To add a cherry on top of it is the stimulating factor that coffee has especially during the early morning workloads and meetings when one feels groggy and sleepy.
The factors stated above quite generically sums up the qualities of coffee.
However, there is a whole industry of baristas and coffee cultivators that professionally assess the aroma, flavor, and the stimulants in the coffee that fills up your cup every morning.
In the world of coffee connoisseurs and baristas, the aroma and taste of coffee has different ranges based on the type of plant from which the coffee beans are cultivated, the process of harvesting and roasting the coffee beans, the method of grounding them, and lastly the way of brewing the coffee.
The aroma of coffee can be broadly categorized as follows:
- Sugar Browning: Responsible for the caramel, chocolaty, nutty, malt-like effects
- Dry Distillation: Responsible for the smoky, woody, spicy effects
- Enzymatic: Responsible for the floral, fruity, herbs, citrusy effects
An ideal coffee can blend in the three tastes quite harmoniously:
- Sour: Caused by the various acidic compounds formed during the brewing process
- Sweet: Relates to the factor of how much ripe the coffee cherry was during the time of harvesting
- Bitter: The standout feature in coffee taste is based on two factors; roasting process and brewing method
A fourth taste, salty, is also found in coffee, which is essentially a defect caused due to contamination of certain minerals during processing.
Types of Coffee Beans
As we speak about coffee and its flavors & aroma, the types of coffee beans hold a special place to understand the origins of these tastes and smells.
The most common types of coffee beans that almost all of us are aware of are Arabica and Robusta.
However, there are two lesser-known varieties as well; Excelsa and Liberica.
It is the most common coffee bean type, accounting for 60% of coffee production in the world.
By nature, it is quite delicate and susceptible to diseases.
They thrive well in high altitudes with steady rainfall and ample shade and need great care during its farming process.
It has the perfect blend of aromas and flavors with a delightful dash of acidity.
All these factors are brought forth when it is served hot without sugar or foam.
As the name suggests, this variety of coffee beans can withstand the environment better and is not susceptible to any diseases.
They can be cultivated in myriad altitudes with an arid climate.
The amount of caffeine in Arabica is double than that of Arabica.
Low acidity with a smooth texture and a chocolaty after taste marks the unique features of Robusta.
These features of Robusta can be well enjoyed with milk & sugar and even with ice.
This type holds a great place in the history of coffee.
It is not easily available nowadays since it can grow only in Filipino terrains and does not attract coffee drinkers that much.
The Liberica coffee beans are irregular in shape and are relatively larger than their counterparts are.
A unique fruity and floral aroma makes this type stand out with its woody aftertaste.
Botanically speaking Excelsa is an offshoot of the Liberica clan of coffee.
However, apart from the cultivation conditions, nothing matches between these two types.
Typically found in South-East Asia, this type accounts for 7% Production of world coffee.
It has a mysterious combination of tarty and fruity taste, which are found in light roasts with an undertone of dark roasts.
Choosing your coffee
Coffee is such a drink that can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways.
Different individuals have a different perception of taste and aromas for their coffees.
While some enjoy the darkest espresso shots, others will enjoy a cold one with milk and sugar.
Therefore choosing your coffee is quite a tricky affair.
However, a simple thumb rule can be applied here. F
or those who are hardcore coffee lovers and hate to mix any kind of other taste with their coffee, for them single-origin coffee would suit best.
For the other category, who loves their coffee light with the added pleasure of sugar and foam, blended ones are the best as it brings out myriads of aromas and after taste.
In case, you opt for the blended version, special care should be taken to understand the flavors exuded by the beans and avoid those kinds whose taste you might not like.
Once you are done with the bean category selection, having the blended version is just a piece of a cakewalk.
Finding your perfect beans
While we are well aware of the coffee types and their flavors, finding good quality beans is a challenge in itself.
Unless you have a reliable store, it is best advised to do online research and then opt for the online store, which sells the best quality gourmet coffee beans.
While pre-grounded coffee is convenient and hassle-free, it might result in flavor loss of your coffee because of its texture or consistency.
Therefore it is better to use whole beans of coffee since you have the sole proprietorship on the consistency and texture of the coffee ground that would suit your taste just perfectly.