Posted in Kafevend Blog
Are you one of those people who can't function in the morning until you've had your first mug of coffee? It stands a good chance that you don't give too much thought to how the coffee ended up in your cupboard. We all tend to be on automatic pilot for the first hour of the day, but it's time to stop taking coffee's presence for granted! Today's blog will give you a little insight into coffee's back story.
Coffee originally comes from Ethiopia, and began to expand further afield by potentially as far back as the 12th century to Yemen, where trade and later cultivation of coffee is recorded. Coffee served as an important drink in the region, as the prohibition of alcohol by Islam left a void for some form of stimulating drink. Coffee filled this quite well, and its revitalising characteristiscs were used by the sufis in Yemeni monasteries, keeping them awake during their night time devotions.
Coffee trees start to produce cherries after a few years. The cherries themselves are preceded by a bloom of white flowers- once these have come and gone, the cherries will appear. Green at first, the cherries eventually turn a deep red, which is the best time to pick them. The cherries don't all ripen at the same time however, so picking them by hand ensures a better quality harvest and, by extension, end product.
After being picked, the cherries are prized open to retrieve the seeds or beans. They are fermented to help remove the left over pulp, though this also helps to develop the final taste. The beans are then washed and dried, traditionally under the sun, either on raised tables or large patios. The beans are know known as green coffee, and packed and shipped to the roasters. Roasting the coffee beans is a delicate art in itself, enough so to warrant a world coffee roasting championship in recent years.
For some the appeal of coffee is the taste. For others, the pick-me-up hit of caffeine is good enough. Caffeine has some benefits for the tree itself too. First of all, it serves as a natural pesticide. Any bugs nibbling on it will receive a deadly dose before they can cause too much damage. As the tree sheds matter, the decaying parts will leach caffeine into the ground, warding off possible opposing flora, including other coffee trees- this is particularly important when many new young plants are battling for space in the sun.
It seems reasonable to assume that the first interactions humans had with coffee wasn't in the form of a drink. Like the myth of Kaldi's goats, no doubt some day hundreds of years ago a curious or just downright peckish individual chewed on a handful of coffee cherries. Whilst we typically just enjoy coffee nowadays as a drink, you can still find coffee in this simpler form. Whilst you could just chomp on a bag of beans, many businesses have hit upon the excellent idea of coating the beans in chocolate, making them somewhat more palatable. If you've never tried coffee like this before, we thoroughly recommend you give it a try!