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You may have noticed that an increased number of people today make coffee at home using a traditional drip coffee machine instead of drinking coffee out of a can or jar. This is because the advent of Starbucks and other coffee vendors has led to a cup of gourmet coffee costing as much as a luncheon sandwich, coffee is no more a simple concoction of necessity, its a speciality today.
"Coffee is today the second most valuable commodity on the market after petroleum"
Which is no wonder as coffee lovers worldwide drink as many as 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day! The world’s coffee growers thus have to produce about 6 million tons of green coffee every year and ship them to the thousands of coffee roasters to satisfy this demand.
"Espresso is so important in daily Italian life that the government regulates its prices!"
Coffee drinkers range from people who drink it only for its caffeine kick’ and the original coffee aficionados who are particular about the coffee’s aroma, color, taste and quality, just like wine connoisseurs are about their wine.
No matter if you drink a cup of 'joe', hot 'java' or a coffee macchiato, the coffee bean is its main, common ingredient. Coffee grows on trees in warm climates having 50 inches of annual rainfall. It needs well drained soil, preferably volcanic, which is the reason for the coveted Hawaiian Kona coffee.
"Kaldi, the goatherd of Ethiopia, and the chance discovery of the coffee bean"
Just like its name 'cherry', the coffee plant fruit is red in color. Its heart, which is usually two beans, is separated from the husk by hand and air and sun dried. The process of separating the bean from the outer husk is called hulling’ and is done by hand or automatically. The resultant green beans have a shelf life of two years.
The history of the discovery of coffee and human beings using it centers on an Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi. Amused seeing his flock behaving strangely after eating a red fruit from a special plant, he too decided to try the berries and was surprised to find himself alert and energized after eating it. He shared his experience with a Muslim holy man at the local monastery who noticed the berries he gathered had a bitter taste. He decided to roast them in a fire to improve its flavor. Using a stone, he crushed them and boiled it in water. He noticed his brain grow more active practically immediately after drinking the new concoction, and could stay wide awake through the night, and wasn’t tired in the morning. News of this drink quickly spread through the Middle East and the European travelers started praising them in their journals by the 16th Century.
"Arabica and Robusta"
Gourmet coffee is made from Arabica beans to give a cup of rich, full coffee with an intense and fulfilling taste. While Robusta coffee is considered inferior in aroma, taste and body, Arabica beans are grown at heights wherein they need more time to mature. This leads to the beans producing more oils to give its remarkable coffee taste. With caramel, spicy, nutty, chocolate, earthy and even floral tastes available, there’s a gourmet coffee taste for everyone.
"Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all" - David Lynch
Coffee roasting is an art and science, which determines the taste and outcome of coffee by giving coffee beans its particular color and aroma. The beans crack when heated to release the rich oils in it. However the beans have to be roasted at the right temperature as too low temperatures give sour beans and too high temperatures give a burnt taste of wood ash. While the lighter roasts give mellow morning coffees, darker roasts give expressos.
Coffee grinding is also important to get the perfect cup of coffee which should preferably be done at the last moment, before brewing. Use clean utensils and cold and untreated coffee. While the rule of thumb ratio is to use about a tablespoon of ground coffee for six ounces of water, you can adjust according to your individual taste.
Refined gourmet coffee drinkers benefit from the internet where they can not only buy the best beans online, but also buy the various accessories needed to make the perfect cup of coffee. With coffee being both a food and pleasure, you can easily buy the perfect ingredients using some online help.
"Coffee Experts and ever growing Coffee Culture in UK"
UK was never a coffee lovers island until recently, coffee has traditionally been more important to France and Italy and other countries while the the English were busy enjoying their tea, but then coffee happened, one of several reasons being what it today known as "coffee to go", or "takeaway coffee" which is more of an impossibility with a good black tea, coffee flavours hold on for a while and are stronger than the subtle flavours of tea, and is more suited to drinking from a paper cup, and thus has taken over the slow and contemplative cup of tea at a tea house with the quick and invigorating coffee on the go.
The coffee culture not being native to UK had its own benefits though, the UK Coffee culture is not limited by any tradition and thus coffee brewers and gourment cafe folks had the independence on bringing different coffee coffee blends to the cup, unlike in France or Italy where coffee remained to be the traditional espresso or shot for years, and in fact modern gourmet coffee was introduced to France with influence from UK coffee brewers.
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