During the 400-degree Fahrenheit roasting the coffee beans expand to about twice their dry size, crack and change color from green to brown as oil in the interior is released. It’s this oil that gives the different types of coffee their basic flavor.
Naturally a wide variety of in-house techniques have developed for roasting coffee beans. For example, beans from Java and Kenya are often lightly roasted producing a distinctive flavor. After roasting, the beans produce carbon dioxide for several days so the beans are ‘de-gassed’ either by airing or packaging in semi-permeable shipping bags.
The resulting beans, up to a few weeks later, are then ground where again there are variations in styles and results. In some cases, ‘burr’ grinders are used to crush the beans to a consistent-sized granule. In others, choppers are used to chop the beans into small pieces with a less homogeneous-sized result. Turkish coffee is made by pounding the beans to a powdery consistency, using mortar and pestle.
The final result is then brewed, where the variety of styles and techniques used in making good coffee is almost as great as the number of brewers. All these fine differences fall into one of four categories, however: boiling, pressure, gravity and steeping.
In ‘boiling’, hot water is run through the grounds then filtered or settled. In pressure methods, such as that used in espresso coffee making machines, the slightly less than boiling hot water is forced through the grounds at high pressure. Gravity or ‘drip brew’ drips hot water onto coffee grounds and filters. Steeping is similar to the method of tea bags, though the bags are much larger.
Through its long journey from mountains or jungles, coffee beans go into making up one of the world’s most treasured drinks. And with the new research demonstrating the health benefits of moderate consumption, one has even greater reason to be grateful for the effort.
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