Did you know that a coffee bean is actually the seed of a coffee plant? Coffee plants produce red or purple fruit. These fruits are often referred to as a “cherry”. Inside each cherry, you'll typically find two pits. These are coffee beans as we know them. When you look at a coffee bean, you will notice one side is flat. That's because each cherry typically contains two coffee beans, with the flat sides touching one another.
Kaldi the Goatherd and the First Cup of Coffee
It is said that the first coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia in 850 A.D.. As the legend goes, a goat herder by the name of Kaldi noticed that his goats had taken a particular liking to the colorful red berries found on a bush. He then noticed that after the goats ingested these berries, that they were given to a sudden burst of energy. The animals appeared to dance and jump around. Figuring what was good for the goats would be good enough for him, Kaldi tried them himself and noticed a similar jolt of energy. Thrilled, he took his finding back to a Sufi monk. However, the monk wasn't too thrilled with the effect of the beans, and threw them into a nearby fire. The appealing smell which rose from the smoke prompted the beans to be saved from the flames, ground down, and added to water. Thus, the first cup of coffee was created.
How Many Types Are There?
Over 100 different types of coffee species can be found today. However, there are two major types of coffee beans; Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans contain about half the caffeine of Robusta, and are grown at higher elevations. Even with the lower caffeine levels, Arabica beans are considered the more “premium” of the two. Because of this, almost all specialty type coffees are made using Arabica beans. Robusta is so called in part because it's a particular hardy plant with great disease resistance. This it the kind of coffee beans you will typically find in tinned coffee, or used by large commercial coffee roasters.
Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?
Even though coffee may have had early origins in both Ethiopia and Yemen, many nations have since taken to cultivating the beloved beans. Today, Brazil is the top producer of coffee beans. It is estimated that South America as a whole is responsible for about 45% of the world's coffee exports in total. Other hot beds of coffee bean production include Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, Honduras, India, and the Caribbean Islands.
Some Lingo To Know
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to all the coffee lingo out there. Here are some good to know terms for next time you find yourself perplexed on what to order.
Blend: So, what is a blend, really? Well, it's a mixture of two or more different types of coffee beans. In many cases, these different types of beans typically come for totally different countries. Blends are meant to balance a coffee's flavor, while still yielding enough contrast to make for a multi-faceted sip and flavor profile.
Standard: This is a blanket term meant to denote quality of coffee beans. Standard beans are generally considered to be a lesser product and are used in more high quantity, commercial brands.
Specialty: This is the next step up from standard coffee beans. This is the mid-range category.
Specialty Coffee Association (SCA): This is a nonprofit organization that includes a variety of people in the specialty coffee industry. Members include professionals from every level of the world of specialty coffee, from baristas to producers.
Meet Some of The Roasters Sippy Is Proud to Partner With
Orit Mohammed is the founder of Boon Coffee and a native Ethiopian. She comes from a long line of proud coffee roasters, farmers, and purveyors. At Boon Coffee, the beans are the star of the show. They specialize in organic specialty coffee. Their Arabica beans are sourced directly from Ethiopia and are single origin. Coming from generations of coffee farmers, Orit also strives to work very closely with the farmers that provide all those gorgeous beans. A portion of the profits from Boon Coffee goes back to help provide education opportunities for children in coffee growing communities.
Deciding to stand out from the pack when it comes to flavor, rather than go for pure profit, Nightjar Coffee is a Roaster to know about. Nightjar prides itself on forming strong relationships with the farmers who produce their single origin beans. They purchase the coffee green, which means it has not yet been roasted. They also focus on working with farmers who produce their beans from micro or nano lots. Buying beans from such small plots of land means that the coffee is of excellent quality. Nightjar Coffee describes itself as an artisanal roaster that goes the extra mile to source only the very best coffee beans available, directly from the farmers.
Founded in 2013, Specialty Batch was created with the desire to raise the coffee standards in the UAE. Here, it's all about quality over quantity. That sort of focus towards exceptional product means that they source their beans green from around the world. Once the beans have been acquired, they then go through some rigorous testing. Different roasts and cuppings are explored to determine the very best possible outcome to deliver supreme taste. For this Roaster, the perfect bean and exceptional cup is a science. They are all about putting in the work to bring you the best sip possible.
As any of our Roasters can attest, it really is all about the beans.