Coffee Paths

Coffee Paths

The other day it happened that, during a conversation, I showed a friend a photo of a raw coffee bean, before it was roasted. I noticed in his eyes the sparkle of someone who learns something new, and I will never forget the words that came next: “but I always thought that coffee was brown since I left my foot!”. Of course, funniness aside, he didn’t have to know that. I don’t know the color of the jambo seed, most Brazilians may be unaware of the pine nut, and even then we are living, right.
juliano lamur - cafe at home 01 - heartbreak-coffeeSource: Heartbreak coffee
This situation made me reflect that perhaps most people who drink coffee daily are not sure how many hands the grain of this nice fruit goes through until it reaches the cup. In a previous post, I talked about some important characteristics to differentiate an ordinary coffee from a special coffee, and for that reason I thought of formulating a very simple list, with 5 initial steps so that we can better visualize how the path traveled by coffee is.
1. The plant
Currently there are about 129 species of shrubs belonging to the genus Coffea (remember biology classes?). Of all these species, two stand out more than all the others, and at the moment we are interested in talking about only one. Our big star is called Coffea arabica.
juliano lamur - cafe at home 02 - josua-andradeSource: Josua Andrade
juliano lamur - cafe at home 03 -james-sowerbySource: James Sowerby
2. The fruit
A coffee tree takes, on average, 5 years from the moment it is planted until it starts to produce full fruit. Depending on the variety of coffee planted, the fruit will have different characteristics, including in terms of flavor. Just to name the names of some of these varieties: Typica, Bourbon, Catuaí, Pacas (haha) and Geisha, the latter considered extremely rare, tasty and endowed with high commercial value.
juliano lamur - cafe em casa 04 - thelocals.netSource: the locals.net
3. The harvest
As the ripe fruits are round and red, it is normal to be called cherries (spoiler: the taste is nothing like pickled cherries). There are some ways to harvest these ripe fruits, but the good old manual harvest is still the most suitable for high quality coffees.
juliano lamur - cafe at home 05 - phill-hopkinsSource: Phill Hopkins
4. Processing
After the cherries are harvested and qualified, the seeds need to be separated from the pulp to be used. This can be done in three main ways: by the natural process, in which the cherries are exposed to the sun until dry; by the washed process, in which the pulp is removed by a machine and the coffee is left in the water to ferment, helping to loosen the rest of the grain pulp; and by processes that mix these two previous ones, such as the semi-washed process.
juliano lamur - cafe at home 06 - ncpr.orgSource: NCPR.org
This is one of the main steps that define the flavor of the drink, and it has now become increasingly common to find information about the type of processing in coffee packages out there.
5. Roasting
After the grains are dry, they rest for 30 to 60 days, are peeled and finally selected, packed, sold and sent where they need to go. But its aspect is still this one:
juliano lamur - cafe at home 07 - 11-roastersSource: 11 Roasters
What happens then is that the grains need to be toast so that its flavor and aroma become what we want to find in our cups. And it was no accident that I left to talk about it here at the very end of the post. The process is complex and we will talk about it here in the column. For now, suffice it to say that it requires knowledge, hard work, experimentation, specialized equipment, and above all, patience and a willingness to learn. How do you say Tommy Thwaites, founder of Coda Coffee (voted the best roasting of the year 2014 by Roast Magazine, in the United States): “Work hard, ask lots of questions, become engaged and involved with specialty coffees and be sure to have fun doing it”.
juliano lamur - cafe at home 08 - marrowmag.comSource: marrowmag.com
I then end this post with a suggestion: the next time you drink your coffee, try to imagine the path he traveled from seed to cup. I guarantee that the journey will be worth it.

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