THE BASICS OF COFFEE EXPLAINED
What are the main types of coffee beans? There are two main types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Here’s a brief overview of each:
Arabica: Arabica beans are generally considered to be of higher quality and are the most commonly grown coffee beans in the world. They are grown at high altitudes, which gives them a more complex flavor profile with hints of fruit, berries, and chocolate. Arabica beans have less caffeine than Robusta beans, making them a popular choice for specialty coffee drinks.
Robusta: Robusta beans are hardier and easier to grow than Arabica beans. They have a stronger, more bitter flavor with earthy and nutty notes, and are often used in espresso blends to add crema and body. Robusta beans have almost twice the caffeine content of Arabica beans, making them a popular choice for instant coffee and other caffeinated products.
There are also other less common types of coffee beans, such as Liberica and Excelsa, but these account for a very small portion of the world’s coffee production.
Where is coffee grown around the world? Coffee Explained.
Coffee is grown in several regions of the world, primarily in the “coffee belt” which is located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. This area includes countries in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Here are some of the major coffee-growing regions and countries:
Latin America: This region is known for producing high-quality Arabica beans, and includes countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Africa: This region produces both Arabica and Robusta beans, and includes countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Asia-Pacific: This region produces primarily Robusta beans, and includes countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and India.
The Caribbean: This region produces both Arabica and Robusta beans, and includes countries such as Jamaica and Haiti.
Each region has its own unique climate, soil conditions, and farming practices, which can affect the flavor and characteristics of the coffee beans grown there. Additionally, many coffee farms are small, family-run operations, while others are large commercial farms. The coffee industry is an important source of income for many people around the world, and has a rich history and culture associated with it.
How are coffee beans chosen and harvested?
Choosing and harvesting coffee beans is a delicate and time-sensitive process that requires careful attention to detail. Here is an overview of how coffee beans are typically chosen and harvested:
Choosing the beans: Coffee farmers will typically select beans from specific plants or areas of their farm based on factors such as the age and quality of the plant, the altitude and climate of the growing region, and the flavor and aroma characteristics of the beans.
Harvesting the beans: Coffee beans are usually hand-picked, with workers selectively harvesting only the ripest beans from the plant. This can be done in several ways, including by stripping all the cherries from a tree at once, or by selectively picking only the ripe cherries from each tree. In some regions, machine harvesting may also be used.
Processing the beans: After the beans are harvested, they need to be processed to remove the outer layers of the cherry and dry the beans. There are two main methods of processing coffee: the dry method, which involves leaving the beans in the sun to dry, and the wet method, which involves washing the beans to remove the outer layers before drying them.
Sorting and grading the beans: Once the beans have been processed and dried, they are sorted and graded based on factors such as size, shape, and color. This helps to ensure that only high-quality beans are used for roasting.
Overall, the process of choosing and harvesting coffee beans requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise, as well as careful attention to detail at every step of the process. The quality of the beans and the flavor of the final product can depend heavily on the care and precision used in selecting and harvesting the beans.
How are coffee beans packaged and transported to their destination countries?
Once coffee beans have been harvested and processed, they need to be packaged and transported to their destination countries. Here is an overview of how this is typically done:
Packaging: After the beans have been processed and sorted, they are typically placed into bags made of jute, burlap, or other materials that allow the beans to breathe. The bags are usually 60-70 kg in weight and are labeled with information about the origin, grade, and date of the beans.
Shipping: The bags of coffee are then transported from the farms or processing facilities to ports or other transport hubs using trucks, trains, or other modes of transportation. Once they arrive at the port, they are loaded onto ships for transport to their destination countries.
Importing: In the destination countries, the coffee is typically inspected and sampled to ensure that it meets the quality standards set by the importing country. If the coffee meets these standards, it is then released for distribution to roasters, retailers, and other buyers.
Roasting: Once the coffee beans have been imported, they are typically roasted by specialty roasters or coffee companies. The roasters will select the beans they want to use based on their desired flavor profile, roast the beans to their specifications, and then package the roasted beans for sale to consumers.
Overall, the process of packaging and transporting coffee beans is a complex and highly regulated process that requires careful attention to detail at every step. The quality of the coffee can be affected by factors such as storage conditions, shipping time, and handling practices, so it is important to ensure that the beans are carefully handled and transported to maintain their flavor and aroma.
How are coffee beans roasted?
Coffee beans are roasted to bring out their unique flavors and aromas, and the process of roasting is a key factor in determining the taste of the final product. Here is an overview of how coffee beans are typically roasted:
Sorting and cleaning: Before roasting, the green coffee beans are sorted to remove any defective beans, foreign objects or debris, and are cleaned to remove any dust or chaff.
Weighing and blending: The sorted and cleaned beans are weighed and blended in order to create a consistent flavor profile.
Roasting: The beans are then roasted in a specialized roasting machine, which applies heat to the beans and causes them to change color, lose moisture, and release their characteristic aroma and flavor. There are different types of roasting machines, and each roaster will have their own roasting profile which includes factors such as temperature, duration, and airflow.
Cooling: After roasting, the beans are cooled rapidly to prevent over-roasting and to lock in the flavors.
Packaging: Once the beans have been roasted and cooled, they are packaged in airtight bags with one-way valves that allow CO2 to escape but prevent air from entering.
The degree of roast can vary, ranging from light to dark, and can affect the flavor of the final product. Lighter roasts tend to be more acidic and have a brighter, fruitier flavor profile, while darker roasts are typically less acidic and have a bolder, more robust flavor profile.
Overall, the process of roasting coffee beans is a critical step in creating a high-quality coffee product, and requires skill, knowledge, and attention to detail in order to achieve the desired flavor profile.
Who are the leading coffee roasters in the UK?
There are several well-known and highly regarded coffee roasters in the UK. Here are a few examples, along with their website details:
Union Hand-Roasted Coffee – https://unionroasted.com/
Square Mile Coffee Roasters – https://www.squaremilecoffee.com/
Has Bean Coffee – https://www.hasbean.co.uk/
Caravan Coffee Roasters – https://www.caravancoffeeroasters.co.uk/
Workshop Coffee – https://workshopcoffee.com/
These roasters specialise in sourcing high-quality coffee beans from around the world, roasting them in-house to bring out their unique flavors and characteristics, and then selling them to consumers through their websites or retail locations. Each of these companies has a strong commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing practices, as well as to providing exceptional quality and service to their customers.
How do coffee shops choose the flavours and bean roasts they want to sell?
Coffee shops typically choose the flavors and bean roasts they want to sell based on several factors, including their customer preferences, the quality of the beans, the roast profile, and the overall flavor profile of the coffee. Here are some of the factors that coffee shops consider when selecting their coffee offerings:
Customer preferences: Coffee shops will often survey their customers to understand what types of coffee they prefer, such as light or dark roasts, single-origin or blends, or flavor notes like chocolate or fruit.
Quality of the beans: Coffee shops will typically source their beans from high-quality coffee producers, and may work with coffee importers or directly with farmers to ensure the quality and consistency of their coffee offerings.
Roast profile: Coffee shops will often have their own unique roast profile, which is a combination of the roasting temperature, duration, and airflow. This roast profile will influence the flavor profile of the coffee, and can be adjusted to create different flavor notes.
Flavor profile: Coffee shops may select beans based on the desired flavor profile, such as chocolatey, nutty, fruity, or floral. The flavor profile is influenced by the origin, variety, and processing method of the beans, as well as the roast profile.
Sustainability and ethical considerations: Many coffee shops will also consider sustainability and ethical factors when selecting their coffee offerings, such as whether the beans were produced using sustainable farming practices, whether the farmers were paid fair wages, and whether the beans were ethically sourced.
Overall, coffee shops will consider a variety of factors when selecting their coffee offerings, and will often work closely with their suppliers to ensure the quality and consistency of their coffee. The ultimate goal is to provide a high-quality, enjoyable coffee experience for their customers.
What types of coffee roast profiles are there?
There are several different types of coffee roast profiles, each with its own unique flavor characteristics. The most common roast profiles are:
Light Roast: Light roast coffee is roasted for a shorter amount of time, typically to an internal temperature of around 356-401°F (180-205°C). Light roast coffee has a light brown color and retains most of its original flavor and acidity. The flavor profile of light roast coffee is often described as bright, fruity, and floral.
Medium Roast: Medium roast coffee is roasted for a slightly longer amount of time, typically to an internal temperature of around 410-428°F (210-220°C). Medium roast coffee has a darker brown color and a slightly more developed flavor profile than light roast coffee, with a balance of acidity and sweetness. The flavor profile of medium roast coffee is often described as nutty, chocolatey, or caramel-like.
Dark Roast: Dark roast coffee is roasted for a longer amount of time, typically to an internal temperature of around 437-446°F (225-230°C). Dark roast coffee has a deep brown color and a bolder, smokier flavor profile than light or medium roast coffee, with less acidity and more bitterness. The flavor profile of dark roast coffee is often described as chocolaty, roasty, or spicy.
French Roast: French roast coffee is roasted for a very long time, typically to an internal temperature of around 464-482°F (240-250°C). French roast coffee has a very dark brown, almost black color, and a very bold, smoky, and sometimes burnt flavor profile. The flavor profile of French roast coffee is often described as bitter, with a slight sweetness and a heavy body.
It’s important to note that the roast profile can affect the taste of the coffee, but the flavor is also influenced by other factors, such as the origin and variety of the beans and the brewing method used.
Who are the leading coffee retailers in the UK?
Some of the leading coffee retailers in the UK include:
Costa Coffee: Costa Coffee is one of the largest coffee chains in the UK, with over 2,600 stores across the country. They offer a range of coffee drinks, as well as snacks and pastries.
Starbucks: Starbucks is another major coffee chain in the UK, with over 1,000 stores. They offer a wide range of coffee drinks, teas, and food items.
Caffè Nero: Caffè Nero is a UK-based coffee chain with over 800 stores across the country. They specialize in Italian-style coffee and offer a range of espresso-based drinks, as well as pastries and sandwiches.
Pret A Manger: Pret A Manger is a popular coffee and sandwich chain in the UK, with over 400 stores. They offer a range of coffee drinks, as well as sandwiches, salads, and other food items.
Greggs: Greggs is a bakery chain in the UK that also offers coffee and other drinks. They have over 2,000 stores across the country and are known for their affordable prices.
Waitrose: Waitrose is a UK-based supermarket chain that offers a range of coffee products, including beans, ground coffee, and capsules. They also offer a range of coffee-making equipment and accessories.
These are just a few examples of the leading coffee retailers in the UK, and there are many other smaller chains and independent coffee shops as well.
There are many popular and well-known coffee shop chains in the UK, as well as many independent cafes and shops that are highly regarded for their coffee offerings. Here are some of the leading coffee shops in the UK:
Costa Coffee – https://www.costa.co.uk/
Starbucks – https://www.starbucks.co.uk/
Caffè Nero – https://caffenero.com/uk/en
Pret a Manger – https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb/
Greggs – https://www.greggs.co.uk/
These are all large coffee shop chains that can be found in many locations throughout the UK. They offer a range of coffee drinks and snacks, as well as other food items. Additionally, there are many independent coffee shops and cafes throughout the UK that are highly regarded for their coffee offerings, such as Workshop Coffee in London, Artisan Roast in Edinburgh, and North Star Coffee Shop in Leeds.
Who are the main boutique coffee houses in the UK?
There are many boutique coffee houses in the UK that are highly regarded for their specialty coffee offerings, unique atmospheres, and commitment to quality and sustainability. Here are some examples of leading boutique coffee houses in the UK:
Workshop Coffee – https://workshopcoffee.com/
Origin Coffee Roasters – https://www.origincoffee.co.uk/
Ozone Coffee Roasters – https://ozonecoffee.co.uk/
Notes Coffee – https://notescoffee.com/
The Barn – https://thebarn.de/
These boutique coffee houses often focus on sourcing and roasting high-quality beans, and may offer a range of specialty coffee drinks, as well as single-origin coffees and pour-over options. They may also have unique and stylish interiors, and a strong emphasis on sustainability and ethical sourcing. While some of these coffee houses may have multiple locations, they are often smaller and more intimate than the large chain coffee shops, with a focus on creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for their customers.
Who are the leading coffee-on-the-go providers?
In the UK, there are several leading providers of coffee-on-the-go. Many of which operate through mobile coffee vans or trucks. Here are some examples of leading coffee-on-the-go providers in the UK, along with their website details:
Coffee Nation Now Costa Express – https://www.costa.co.uk/
The Big Coffee – https://thebigcoffee.com/
The Espresso Bar – https://www.theespressobar.co.uk/
The Barista – https://thebaristacompany.co.uk/
Café2U – https://cafe2u.co.uk/
These providers specialise in bringing high-quality coffee directly to customers, often at events, festivals, or other locations where people are on-the-go. They typically offer a range of coffee drinks, as well as snacks and other refreshments. Many of these providers also prioritise sustainability and ethical sourcing practices, using recyclable cups and packaging and sourcing their coffee from ethical and sustainable sources.
More about Michael Tait’s coffee industry experience: Coffee Nation (Costa Express)