The Rich, Enchanting and Enticing World of Gourmet Coffee
Gourmet coffee is arguably the most popular beverage in the world. Roasting, preparing and drinking it has become almost an art form, one that is based on finer olfactory and gustatory sensations – that is, smell and taste.
Types of Gourmet Coffee
Gourmet coffee has undergone a lot of changes and improvements over the course of the history of man’s centuries-long love affair with it. There are numerous gourmet coffee flavors and grades, and innumerable ways of preparing and enjoying them.
The two basic types of coffee are Robusta and Arabica. Robusta coffee is the cheaper and most available kind, as well as having the most amount of caffeine. Arabica, on the other hand, is the type having the best taste and grade; this is the type used for gourmet coffee. Gourmet coffee only has half of Robusta’s caffeine content. Gourmet coffee also naturally has a superior aroma and flavor.
There are many gourmet coffee flavors available, which is to say that almost every imaginable flavor is out there. Irish cream, Swiss mocha, almond, vanilla, peppermint, chocolate, and mint are a few of the perennial favorites.
Processing of gourmet coffee
Coffee processing involves the conversion of the raw coffee fruit into coffee beans. The method used has a significant effect on the coffee’s flavor, taste and aroma.
Coffee beans are not actually beans. They are the seeds of coffee cherries produced by the coffee plant. A typical coffee cherry is ripe for picking when it has ripened, changing from a green color into red. Picking can be done manually or by machine. The cherries may be manually selected or strip picked whole.
Selective picking ensures the best fruits are gathered, and this produces finer beans that command higher prices. Green, unripe berries have a more bitter taste and unpleasant odor; they are not acceptable for gourmet coffee. Only mass produced cheap coffee can be made from green berries. On the other hand, ripe red berries have more aromatic oil content and lower organic acids, and thus are smoother, mellow and more fragrant. Only ripe red berries can be produced into gourmet coffee. Picking therefore constitutes a very important part of the production process.
Processing involves removing the fruit that covers the bean, drying it, milling and polishing it, and then cleaning and sorting it. Removal of the pulp can be done either through the wet or dry process.
The wet process can be done by immersion in water, fermentation and washing, or by using machines to scrub and demucilage the fruit. It results in what is called washed coffee. The process must be done carefully, for fermenting and scrubbing can significantly affect coffee flavor and quality. Afterwards, the beans are then dried under the sun, through a machine or both, to a moisture level of 10%. The drying process must be carefully managed to prevent the buildup of mildew.
The dry process is the oldest known method of coffee processing. It results in what is called natural or unwashed coffee. It involves sorting, cleaning and then drying. Drying may take up to four weeks. In the dry process, the pulp and all the outer layers of the cherry are not removed, and instead eliminated in one step during the hulling process.
After processing, the coffee is milled, undergoing the processes of hulling, polishing, final sorting and cleaning, and grading. They are now called green coffee beans.
Roasting gourmet coffee
Roasting involves subjecting the beans anywhere from three to thirty minutes to temperatures of 204 to 275 °C (or 401 to 527 °F), depending on the desired roast. After being roasted, they are cooled using different methods. The process of Torrefacto roasting involves adding sugar to the gourmet coffee beans, a practice done in Spain and in some Latin American countries. Roastmasters usually follow specific roasting recipes or “roast profiles” which enable them to bring out particular desired gourmet coffee characteristics. These profiles also ensure uniformity of roasts that result in consistency and high quality to the roasted gourmet coffee beans.
Ground roasted coffee beans are the ones that are finally brewed in a coffee maker or coffee percolator. To achieve the fullest flavor, gourmet coffee should be brewed and consumed within three days after being roasted.
Gourmet coffee versus regular coffee
Gourmet coffee is worlds apart from regular instant coffee that one can get at any 7-11 outlet. In looking for gourmet coffee, garner as much information as possible about the gourmet coffee product being considered. The kind of gourmet coffee beans used is the most important consideration, but the packaging and production dates are also important to get the best out of the freshness of the gourmet coffee. Many companies have a good reputation in producing high quality gourmet coffee and this is the best place to start looking for gourmet coffee.
Regular and instant coffee is made from Robusta beans, which are cheaper and has lower quality. Robusta is more readily available because its beans have a faster production cycle than Arabica gourmet coffee. Some makers of coffee mix Arabica and Robusta in order to be able to sell gourmet coffee at a cheaper price. However, it compromises the flavor and quality of the gourmet coffee.
Gourmet coffee should be uncompromisingly made of one hundred percent Arabica. The flavor and aroma of gourmet coffee is unmistakable and very much worth it. People used to instant coffee, however, should take time to taste and compare between Arabica gourmet coffee and Robusta regular coffee to fully appreciate the difference.
Gourmet coffee consists of more body, richer flavor and finer aroma, compared to the stronger, more bitter taste of common instant coffee.
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Category: Green Coffee