Bob's Blog #1 - Welcome to the World of Coffee

Bob's Blog #1 - Welcome to the World of Coffee

Some of you are new and I hope to impart a little bit of the knowledge I have been able to amass and perhaps provide a chuckle or two for your week.  Some of you are hopeless old-school addicts of the bean who enjoyed a cup of brew while George Clooney was still the handyman on the show The Facts of Life (see the nearest grey haired if lost).  Others will drink decaff and correct my grammar.  Hahaha - to be honest I ditched a bunch of my English classes in high school and was usually found at the nearest coffee shop listening to some unemployed artsy guitarist while reading some existential or stoic philosopher or, trying to play at coffee house intellectualism.  Ahh youth.  I do not recall the philosophers or the musician, but the good coffee obviously had its impact. 

At the time of this writing there are roughly over a 120 species of coffee; so for the sake of time, my sanity and yours were going to generalize and deal with the main two species I feel you will predominantly encounter.  Arabica and Robusta (row-boo-sta).  Coffee is a fruit. It is grown on shrubs and bushes and it is the seed (bean) inside the cherry that is grown that we use.  Like wine, coffee is eclectic and draws from the world around it.  Like most consumed fruit it has various grades from totally awesome to the dog won’t eat that.  Arabica makes up roughly ¾ of the coffee cultivated and consumed worldwide. East Africa, Asia, India, South America, Indonesia, Central America heck you can almost pick a place it may be grown there. It is what we drink. CCanephora (Robusta) is roughly 40% of the coffee grown annually. The difference you need to know here is based on location, taste, and use.  Probably somewhere in the southern Sudan, Robusta was hanging out with a bad crowd and the smoking hot CEugenioides wandered by.  Robusta asked her out, they hooked up and Arabica is the result.  Makes me think of coming to a theater near you “The romance of the bean or “A beans life”. Hahaha!   

Arabica is typically shade grown at cooler temperatures at higher elevations, it is more of a challenge to harvest and tends to be more susceptible to disease.  Add to that the constant up and down weather provided by the whims of mother nature and you can start to see why cost fluctuates so much. Remember how I said coffee was eclectic?  Where Arabica is grown is important to its flavoring.  The fruits and vegetables grown around it and mineral content of the soil at those elevations is different and affects the taste of the coffee cherry.  Robusta on the other hand is cultivated in lower altitudes, can withstand higher temperatures, is disease resistant, cheaper to grow and harvest, and has naturally 30% more caffeine.  Sounds like a win/win right?  Wrong!  The caveat here is that when compared to Arabica, Robusta generally tastes awful.  Now don’t get your undies in a bind coffee purest and old-schoolers I’m not saying that an amazing Robusta can’t taste better than a low-quality Arabica, it can.  It is just that Arabica is as a rule more palatable and that statement still does not mean that Robusta taste good.   

Common use of each in my mind sort of drives my point home.  Robusta is usually used by the major coffee companies (those coffee-o-can guys at the local grocery) in their coffees as their coffee is blended with poorer quality Arabica, they make a boatload of it and its just cheaper on them to do so. These are the add a mess load of cream and sugar coffees we’ve all drank If you would like a solid taste of Robusta (although for the life of me I do not know why) the nasty devil child of the coffee industry, instant coffee, is usually totally Robusta or such a high percentage that the flavor is undeniable.  Arabica on the other hand is simply roasted to a certain profile (Agtron number nowadays) ground to meet the method of brew you utilize and enjoyed.  Robusta has its proper place in the industry to be sure but only in blends and only in moderation roasted to bring out the Arabica as the prevalent flavor notes.  Whichever type you choose, I suggest you brew up a batch of your favorite, turn on Nick at Night, and enjoy a cup watching an episode of the Facts of Life.    

May your life be as rich as the coffee you drink. 

Bob "Coffee"

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