What are coffee beans?

Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee "cherry"; two seeds normally grow within each cherry. On the tree, the beans are covered by the silverskin (a vestigial remainder of the fruit's development, also called the spermoderm). The silverskin is covered by a parchment skin (the endocarp), which is covered by a slimy layer (the parenchyma), surrounded by a thin layer of pulp (the mesocarp), all covered by an outer skin (the exocarp). These layers must be removed prior to roasting, though some silverskin often remains attached.

What is Arabica and Robusta?

All coffee beans come from plants in the genus Coffea. Although there are thousands of species of plants within this genus, with tremendous variance in size and shape, only two are of commercial importance: Coffea arabica, and Coffea canephora, the latter more commonly called robusta, after a prime variety. A third species, Coffea liberica has found some localized production in Liberia, but it is of minor significance in the global market. Arabica is genetically distinct: it has four sets of chromosomes, whereas robusta, and liberica each have two. Sensory descriptions The taste of arabica beans differ between varieties and growing regions--the same variety grown in different parts of the world will taste different. These taste notes can be as varied as berries (blueberry is often particularly noted in Ethiopian Harrar), earthy (a characteristic associated with Indian and Indonesian coffees,) citrus (common with Central Americans), or chocolate (see note on mocha). On average, a robusta will be harsher. One importer likened a particularly bad origin to dung, though very fine robustas can, potentially, compare favorably to a quality arabica. Premium robustas are essentially reserved for espresso blends, where they are primarly used to greatly improve the crema and to add a certain bite to the shot. The difficulty is in finding an exceptional robusta; growers and processors are often not willing to dedicate as much effort to robusta as they are to arabica, since the only potential market is for those blends. Robustas are rarely sold straight; instead, in addition to premium robustas used in espresso blends, poor quality robustas may be added to freeze-dried coffees or to coffee-flavored frozen drinks where the sugar and cream overwhelm the off-notes. Robusta has notably more caffeine than arabica.

How important is the beans' country of origin?

The coffee's country of origin is largely a matter of subjective taste, and you will benefit by sampling a wide variety of origins and roasting styles. Origin is important in that the comparative bean flavor between growing regions, even within the same country, can be quite different. As a result, it is difficult to make sweeping generalizations about the coffees in any particular region.

What's the difference between dry processing and wet processing?

This refers to how the pulp is removed from the bean. Dry processing is the oldest method of processing coffee. The cherries are washed and then spread out on drying racks to dry in the sun for several weeks, or alternatively, are dried by machine. During this drying process, the pulp ferments, lending a particular taste to the bean. How the coffee is handled during drying�whether sun-dried coffee is protected against adverse weather or temperature, the machine driers' temperature, etc.�effects the eventual quality and flavor of the bean. After the beans are dried, they are machine processed to remove the dried outer layers. Wet processed beans have their outer skins removed by machine processing, then the fruit with the exposed pulp is allowed to ferment in tanks where bacteria and naturally occurring enzymes consume the pulp. The beans are then washed and dried, also either by sun or machine, and the dried beans are then milled to remove the remaining layers. Some beans are semiwashed. The outer skins are removed, but the pulp is allowed to dry on the beans. The beans are then hulled as in the dry process, but the pulp is usually wetted as part of this step. Broadly put, many feel that dry processing enhances body and complexity, whereas wet processing enhances clarity and acidity.

News & Events

  • We've opened first drive-thru coffee shop in Nepal in Guandi, 5 KM ahead of Damauli, on the way to Pokhara.
  • This festive season we're serving special Lemon & Lime and Peach ice tea in all of our outelts.
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