Perfect doesn’t even begin to describe it. The sounds, the heat, the steam and of course the perfect smells and aromas after it is done. No, not that, but the filter coffee machine when it is done with running the hot and steamy… water, just water, through the oh so fine and elegant… beans, ground beans. The heat and steam spreading from the coffee. It is all so… natural. From a natural source that is, since the beans are collected from their coffee plants before they can be processed and ground before they become the famous ground coffee beans to make coffee from. Imagine waking up after a deep night’s sleep to the smell and warmth of the steaming brew.
What is not to like about coffee? It is the perfect thing to start the day with, the perfect thing to help you get through a dip, the perfect energy deliverer you so desperately crave which fits in a cup, the drink which, at the same time, gives you warmth and which is the perfect thing to share during talking. What is there not to love? It is hot, it is dark and, oh my god, the taste! Coffee is nicely dark colored, bitter, slightly acidic and has a stimulating effect. It is the answer to everything. What would I take to an uninhabited island? Coffee! What made me survive Agora Kraków? Coffee! What am I talking too much about? Coffee! In a nutshell, coffee is bliss! Coffee is life! And yes, I must like you a lot if you take some of my coffee and I let you get away with it. I still remember when it all started with hazelnut flavored coffee with whipped cream. Soon after, my love for coffee took a turn for the dark side. With time, the amount of coffee increased while, at the same time, the coffee became darker and stronger. Something like, “Come to the dark side, we have coffee!” Before I knew it, I found out that my heart rate and blood pressure responded to just the word. And no, the word is not the bird. Fun fact: the word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, borrowed from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, borrowed in turn from the Arabic qahwah. So, if you wondered if the English only exported words to the Dutch language, here is one which was passed on from the Dutch to the English language.
Coffee can be found and bought in so many places, it is hard to imagine it was not always like this. But it is hard to talk about the discovery of the effects of coffee, because the first use of coffee and the beans has been clouded by loads of different stories and explanations. Some are even more fantastic and unbelievable than others. The origin of coffee is so unclear, I am afraid the origin will always remain clouded in mystery. The first reasonable reliable notion is that between 575 and 850 A.D., the coffee plant appears in Arabia after originating in Ethiopia. And the way in which this happens is also unclear, as well as the development of using the plant as food to consuming it as a warm drink. There are too many different stories to be sure. Why is finding out about origins of the awesome stuff always so hard? At least the general consensus is that the berries were used as a whole and only later the coffee making process was adapted to the use of roasting and grinding of the beans. By the time of 1000 A.D., the brew was still pretty rough compared to what we are used to nowadays, consisting of green coffee beans and their shell. After the coffee plant made its way into Europe, it was transported all over the world to all kinds of different colonies. Over time, Brazil managed to get their hands on the coffee plant in 1727 and to become, roughly hundred years later, by 1830, and remain the biggest producer and exporter of the coffee beans ever since.
The coffee fruit is called a berry because it has the same size, shape and color as other berries. Under the bright red shell, you can find the pulp, a sweet sticky and yellow substance which changes to a slimy substance around the coffee beans, the actual seed of the coffee plant, which you can find two of in a berry. The plant where the berries come from, are a couple of different Coffea species. Since many different species, subspecies and variations are present, it is hard to classify the plants. But the two variations you probably already know about are the Coffee arabica and the Coffea canephora, more known as robusta. The Coffee arabica is the oldest plant and most of the traded coffee (70%) stems from this plant. The robusta is the plant which is the most productive. They grow predominantly in the coffee belt and coffee has to be exported to the rest of the world. It takes a while (years) for them to start producing the berries and they are sensitive to their environment. Of the total amount of berries only a part can be used to produce coffee beans. This all together makes it hard to get a stable and consistent production. To make it even harder, diseases and plagues are also present.
Since the coffee industry has a long history, one can imagine that many ways to process the beans are developed. Since there are also many different plants and countries where the plants are grown, it is easy to imagine that a broad classification for coffee and a wide variety of coffee have been developed. This is so much information that even a summary will probably require you to consume one or more coffees to still be able to pay attention.
But I think that, since you have made it this far, you are already really interested in what kinds of coffee can be made and how coffee can be used. Let’s start off easy, with the lovely espressos, which are created by pressurizing boiling water through finely ground coffee beans. Although it is relatively easy, there are at least eight different versions. Nonetheless, espressos are the purest coffee experience you can get, with a high concentration of coffee and caffeine in the small volume of water. This is usually served in an equally tiny cup. The next two forms are brothers of each other in the way that they consist of an espresso with extra added water but the order is different. Caffe Americano is simply adding hot water to an espresso. The Long Black variant is hot water poured into a cup, after which two shots of espresso are added.
Next up are all the tasty ways of combining coffee with milk. The first one, of course, would be the cappuccino. Espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk should be in the cappuccino cup in equal parts, in the mentioned order. The Macchiato is an espresso with a layer of milk foam. The Flat White is similar to the Macchiato but instead of a layer of milk foam, the Flat White has a layer of steamed milk. Put your espresso in your cup and add about 2 cm of steamed milk on top and your Flat White is ready for taking your body to a higher energy level. Caffè au Lait, maybe better known as Café Latte, consists of 1/3 espresso and 2/3 of cooked milk, which consists of steamed milk as well as milk foam. The Latte Macchiato is the brother of the Café Latte, but the order of how it is made is different. First steamed milk is put in your cup, after which the espresso is added. Lastly, it is topped again with milk foam, like the Café Latte. Mochaccino is the odd one out since it is actually a Latte with added chocolate powder or syrup. The Mochaccino can be made with chocolate milk, by pouring the chocolate milk on top of the espresso.
Let’s spice it up a bit and move on to all the really interesting coffees. I suspect you think immediately of the Irish Coffee, the delicious cocktail of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and stirred. Last part, top it off with cream. YUM! Baileys Irish Coffee is your beloved coffee with Baileys Irish Cream. But there are others, like the Spanish coffee in which coffee is mixed with liqueurs like Kahlua, Amaretto or Cointreau. Mix multiple liqueurs to create complex flavors in your already interesting coffee. The Spanish Coffee can also contain Tía Maria and rum. The Don Juan mixes coffee with dark rum and Kahlua coffee liqueur, while the Mexican Coffee combines coffee with Kahlua and Tequila. Amaretto Coffee speaks for itself, but don’t forget the whipped cream and sliced almonds. A more unfamiliar one, is the Café Brulot which has the coffee meet a whole combination of cinnamon, 4 sugar cubes, 4 whole cloves and cognac, Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur) and half a lemon peel. Very interesting to us students. Because remember, you cannot be an alcoholic while you are a student! Or you just want to hide that you are a student.
To end the list of great coffee ideas, I’ve got a great dessert for you! Because…, well…, desserts with coffee are possible too! This really tasty idea is called an Affogato, where coffee gets poured on a dessert, YUM! More hands-on oriented? Try the coffee ice-cream with roasted almonds. Get 75 grams of almonds and 90 grams of sugar in a pan. Heat up slowly until the sugar has turned gold-brown lightly, and let the mixture harden and cool down. Grind it until it is a fine powder. Next, put 2dl whipped cream, 2 tablespoons of ground coffee and vanilla in a pan. Almost cook the mixture after which it should cool down for 15 minutes. Put it through a sieve. Mix the cream, almond mixture and 3 dl Greek yoghurt. After mixing, put it in the freezer for 4 hours. Take it out 15 minutes before serving and enjoy!
And if you STILL haven’t had enough, you probably are an ice-cold coffee killer. Including the range in ice-coffees. Usually, ice-coffees are made by, at first, make filter coffee, for a clearer brew. After making the beloved coffee, let it cool down and mix it with ice cubes, which can be ground if you desire. Usually, flavored syrup and whipped cream are added after which everything is blended. Use different flavors to spice it up a bit. But you will probably be more familiar with the different kinds of Starbucks coffees. Oh, did you know of the hidden pearl we have here in Groningen, Favolosa? (No advertisement intended 🙂 ) It has the best coffee to make your eyes fall out of their sockets. This cannonball of coffee is the Cafecito, served here, and it exists of three espresso shots with sugar. Energy level over 10.000!
I hope you just gotten as excited as I did while writing this article. And yes, a couple of coffees were hurt in the process (and no, my eyes didn’t pop out of their sockets, FYI). If you want to help a good cause and help me improve my coffee intake, find me and take me to the nearest coffee place.
Enjoy your daily coffee!