chocolate covered coffee beans

coffee: the nectar of the gods

Friday, August 25, 2006

Drip brew coffee

Drip brew is a method for brewing coffee which involves pouring water over coffee contained in a filter. Water seeps through the coffee, absorbing its oils and essences, solely under gravity then passes through the bottom of the filter. The used coffee grounds are retained in the filter with the liquid falling (dripping) into a collecting vessel such as a carafe or pot.

Paper filters are commonly used for drip brew all over the world. One benefit of paper filters is that the used grounds and the filter may be disposed of together, without a need to clean the filter. However, metal filters are also common, especially in India. These are made of thin perforated metal sheets that restrain the grounds but allow the coffee to pass, thus eliminating the need to have to purchase separate filters which sometimes cannot be found in some parts of the world.

Drip brewing is the most popular method of coffee brewing, owing to the overwhelming popularity of the automatic drip brewing coffee machine. There are, however, several manual drip-brewing devices on the market, offering a little more control over brewing parameters than automatic machines. There also exist small, portable, single serving drip brew makers that only hold the paper filter and rest on top of a cup. Hot water is poured in and drips directly into the cup.

Brewing with a paper filter produces clear, light-bodied coffee, which is free of sediments, but lacking in some of coffee's oils and essences, which are trapped in the paper filter.

A less familiar form of drip brewing is the reversible or "flip" pot commonly known as the Napoletana.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Decaffeination

Decaffeination is the act of removing caffeine from coffee beans and tea leaves.

All decaffeination processes are performed on unroasted (green) coffee beans, but the methods vary somewhat. They generally start by steaming the beans. The beans are then rinsed in some solvent that contains as much of the chemical composition of coffee as possible without also containing the caffeine in a soluble form. The process is repeated anywhere from 8 to 12 times until it meets either the international standard of having removed 97% of the caffeine in the beans or the EU standard of having the beans 99.9% caffeine free by mass. Coffee contains over 400 chemicals important to the taste and aroma of the final drink; this effectively means that no chemical reaction will remove only caffeine while leaving the other chemicals at their original concentrations. While they are occasionally referred to informally as "decaffeinated," soft drinks without caffeine are prepared by simply leaving caffeine out in the first place.

Coffea arabica normally contains about half the caffeine of coffea robusta, and a coffea arabica bean containing a tenth as much caffeine as a normal bean has been found by some Brazilian scientists. This may change how low-caffeine coffee is produced in the future. Additionally, genetic engineering technology may be eventually applied to create a naturally caffeine-free coffee. But for now, one of several methods to remove the caffeine from caffeine-containing beans is employed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Home roasting coffee beans

Home roasting refers to the process of buying green coffee beans and roasting them in your own home. Roasting coffee in the home is something that has been practiced for centuries, and has included methods such as heating over fire coals, roasting in cast iron pans, and rotating iron drums over a fire or coal bed. Up until the 20th century, it was more common for at-home coffee drinkers to roast their coffee in their residence than it was to buy pre-roasted coffee. During the 20th century, roasting coffee in the home faded in popularity with the rise of the professional coffee roasting companies.

In modern times home roasting of coffee has seen a revival, and while often done for purely economic reasons, increasingly it has become a tool and a hobby for the coffee aficionado to get access to better quality, fresher roasted beans.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Maraba Coffee

Maraba Coffee (Kinyarwanda: Ikawa ya Maraba, French: Café de Maraba) is a fair trade coffee produced in the Maraba area of southern Rwanda (coordinates: 2°35′S 29°40′E). The coffee plants are the Bourbon variety of the C. arabica species and are grown by around 2,000 small holder farmers, operating under the Abahuzamugambi association, on the fertile volcanic soils at altitudes between 1,700 and 2,100 metres (5,577–6,889 ft). The association was formed in 1999 by the farmers themselves, and from 2000 was supported by the National University of Rwanda (NUR), and the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), an organisation set up with help from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and various US educational establishments to provide loans and expert advice to the association. The cooperative has vastly improved the lives of growers in the area, many of whom has lost family members in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and can now send their children to school and receive good healthcare for the first time.

The useful part of the coffee plant is the fruit, which is hand picked by the farmers, mostly during the rainy season between March and May, and then brought in baskets to a purpose-built washing station in Maraba. There the skins are removed and the beans extracted from the centre and dried. At several stages of this process, the beans are sorted according to quality, both by machine and by hand. The farmers are given credits dependent on the amount and quality provided and paid at the end of each month.

The beans are sold on to various roasting companies, with the highest quality beans going to Union Coffee Roasters, a company based in the United Kingdom and Community Coffee, based in Louisiana. Union sells to various cafes in the UK as well as the Sainsbury's supermarket chain, which sells it on under the banner Rwanda Maraba Bourbon Coffee, while Community use it in conjunction with other coffees in some of their speciality blends. Good beans are also bought by Rwanda Specialty Coffee Roasters, which sells the coffee in Rwanda (mostly in higher end shops in the capital, Kigali). Maraba coffee is also now brewed into a beer, which won its category in the World Beer Cup 2006.