Coffee Beans

History – Legend vs. Facts

“The legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans.

The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.

Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.” (NCA)

While there are many legends of how coffee was discovered, the credibility of the legend has not been confirmed.  What we do know is, coffee has been around for many ages.  It was first cultivated as a crop on the Arabian peninsula around the 15th century. From there, it spread from Asia to Europe and throughout the globe. To date, there are two distinct types of beans that are cultivated for commercial use. From these two strands, all commercially available blends and varieties are derived  and each has their own use.

Coffee Arabica

“Coffea Arabica (Arabica), pronounced either a-rã-bik-a or ar-a-bë-ka. This species makes up about 70% of the world market for coffee beans. Being a higher value taste, this fancy grade coffee bean is sold mostly through specialty coffee shops. Arabica being grown on steep terrain makes mechanical harvesting impossible. The hand picking ensures a better quality of selection with less under/over ripe beans being selected.” (Peter Baskerville)

Coffee Robusto

“Coffea canephora (referred to as Robusta) This high caffeine content species makes up about 27% of the world coffee bean market. Being a cheaper to produce coffee bean but with a lower taste profile, this coffee is often sold for use in instant coffee. It is produced primarily in Indonesia, West Africa, Brazil, and Vietnam. Also known by botanists as Coffea bukobensis A. Zimm., Coffea canephora Pierre ex Froehner var. kouilouensis Pierre ex De Wild., Coffea canephora Pierre ex Froehner var. sankuruensis De Wild., Coffea robusta L. Linden (GRIN), Coffea robusta L. (Smit). Is commonly known in the trade as Congo coffee or Congo coffee tree (USA).” (Peter Baskerville)

Uses

Arabica – Required for a “proper”  espresso and is highly sought after for it’s rich taste. Often found in specialty coffee shops with a higher price tag.

Robusto- Cheaper, lower taste profile and is often found in instant coffee. Most commonly found in big box retail stores.

Blends- often a blend of the two to obtain a lower cost and better flavor. Blends make up the bulk of the coffee market and are sold everywhere from big box stores to specialty shops.

Citations

NCA – http://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/History-of-Coffee

Peter Baskerville – https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-different-types-of-coffee-beans

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