Know More About Coffee

Know your coffee beans and roasts


The Romance of Coffee

The history of coffee extends back over a thousand years to Arabia when it was probably discovered by nomads who ate the coffee cherry for its energy effects. Arabica coffee (a particular genus of tree grown in high altitudes) is believed to have originated in tropical Africa and is what gourmet roasters will use over its cheaper and poorer tasting Robusta cousin. It can still be found growing in the wild in Ethiopia and Arabia. Around the year 1700,the Dutch carried the plants to Java via India to export to Europe where coffee was consumed by the rich and famous. From there, it traveled to the Caribbean and South and Central America, becoming popular and affordable with the masses until now where it is the world's second most traded commodity after oil, at around sixty billion dollars annually.

Roasting

Roasting is the most important factor in getting the best coffee experience. Safari Coffee controls all its own roasting and blending. Much like fresh bread, coffee is only at its best for a period of days or weeks, depending on if it's ground or whole bean. When you grind coffee, you release nitrogen trapped in the bean, and for a few minutes the aroma is at it height. Unfortunately, as the flavor escapes, you start to compromise quality if you don't immediately start the brewing process.

Storage

Storage of whole bean coffee is best in an air-tight container. Refrigeration does not help preserve flavor. Freezing is better than leaving it in your cupboard if you grind the coffee when it's purchased (which is very naughty)

Decaffeinated

Decaffeinated coffees are created mainly in several ways. The traditional process uses a solvent. This is the best tasting method because it removes most of the caffeine but as much flavor. More importantly, there is never any chemical intake because what little is leftover is removed by the high temperatures during the roasting process. CO2 and Swiss water are growing in popularity as the beans are treated to remove the caffeine without any use of chemicals. At this time Safari does not purchase beans that have been treated with chemicals.

Environmental Grown Coffee

Organic coffee is of growing interest because of the natural environmental farming practices it promotes. Because the non-organic coffee tree may be heavily sprayed with bug-fighting chemicals, the soil and water supply is affected in a negative manner. Fortunately, the coffee cherry or skin protects the end user from harmful spraying. Organics are a bit more expensive because of the extra care in managing the trees due to the extra care in farming. It's been our experience that there is little taste difference between organic and non-organic coffee. Shade-grown as opposed to Sun-grown coffee describes a type of coffee tree that thrives best under the natural canopy.& Today we see trees that are planted in large plots which were designed to handle full sun exposure maximizing acreage. Although this leads to a larger harvest, if the canopy is destroyed during planting it can be harmful to migratory birds and other animals that depend on the variety of plant life found in the forest.

Fair Trade Certified has come about recently because the coffee marketplace was so glutted with beans that the un-roasted price has fallen to low for the farmers to make a living. This has resulted in many small farms closing and continued poverty in a world that is always struggling economically. When a coffee is certified Fair Trade it means the roaster has paid a minimum price for beans insuring a decent living wage to the farmer. The more small farmers growing coffee who receive a fair return, the better it is for their economy, quality of life and the environment.

Taste

Taste can be best described with the following adjectives. Rich, body, smooth, bright, spicy and acidity. They are somewhat vague and hard to quantify but acidity is a good feature found in many African coffees.. Certain countries, regions and farms have distinctive flavor profiles that may vary slightly year from year much like wine. The roasts name is based on color. The lighter beans have a chestnut color and move from medium brown or dark brown, Vienna Roast, to very dark brown, Espresso Roast, and finally black French and Italian Roast.

Keys to the Perfect Cup

Keys To The Perfect Cup

Grinds vary based on the coffee equipment used. For example an espresso machine uses almost a fine powder while your common drip coffee maker uses a gritty grind and a non filter paper system like a French Press uses coarsely ground coffee.

Water should be of high quality both to keep your machine running well and also for a smoother cup. Remember coffee is 98% water. Optimum temperature to extract the oils and flavor is between 194-198 F. Most common cheap coffee makers won't even heat to 185F. The consumer can buy the most expensive beans and not reproduce the experience in a coffee house which use high temperature commercial machines. I have found that the French Press or Vacuum Method (sold at Safari) will allow you to bring the water to a boil which gets the job done. The next best is a high quality coffee maker like the Krups or Bodum lines. Naturally you want to use decent water that isn't loaded with minerals to achieve a nice smooth profile. San Diego has high mineral content water so we use a Reverse Osmosis system in the store.

Portion control needs to be accurate. Too much will produce a bitter or strong cup and naturally too little will make it weak and undrinkable. We like to recommend one level tablespoon for every ten ounces desired. Do not pay attention to markings on coffee pots since they do not signify ounces. You need to measure your pot and work from there.

Color of bean. Deciding which color roast you prefer takes a bit of tasting but cant be overlooked as a factor towards enjoying the brew. Today the tendency of the major chains is to roast dark but this makes coffee taste uniform which takes away the fun of the various brews. The roast can be left in the drum for fifteen to twenty minutes which determines the color of the coffee. The darker the roast the more bite you experience. It is our belief that coffee taste best at a medium roast. The body is there without the smoky aftertaste of a dark roast.

Coffee bean options: These include Varietals, Blends, Flavors and Decafs. When you go to our order page you will learn more about the profiles of each kind. You can purchase sampler boxes which will give you a nice spectrum without committing to significant amounts.