What Is Coffee?
The Revered Ancient Plant
Coffee is a small evergreen that is botanically classified as a bush, though most call it a tree. Coffee trees bloom annually with fragrant white flowers that mature into fruits.
The word “coffee” also refers to the pit of the plant’s cherry (fruit), which shelters within it the prized coffee bean.
The thick and bitter outer skin of the cherry encases the sweet fruit which is much like a grape. Within the fruit is a slippery thin layer of skin that protects the small, hard bean.
A coffee tree matures after about four to five years and then yields about one pound of coffee per year for about 15-20 years.
A plant’s coffee berries will ripen at various times, requiring pickers to select only the ripest berries and leave the unripe berries for later. This hand picking is highly preferred so that unripe berries are not mixed in with the perfectly ripe berries, as occurs with machine picking.
A coffee blend is a mix of different coffees. The intent of preparing a gourmet coffee blend is to create a coffee that has a pleasing combination of taste with just the right acidity, body, finish, and aroma.
Some coffees shops have their own signature blends—perhaps you would even like to create your own! Choose a combination of premium gourmet coffees and see if you can achieve a unique balance revealing flavors that you enjoy!
Many people prefer flavored coffees in which non-coffee flavors are infused into the roasted beans.
Some of the most popular coffee flavors include almond, vanilla, chocolate, and hazelnut with many other flavors available also including caramel, cinnamon, amaretto, rum, bourbon, apple, pumpkin spice, Irish crème, peppermint, and butter rum.
After the beans are roasted they are allowed to cool down to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and then the flavor is added. At this time the pores of the beans are still open and very receptive to flavor absorption.