What Makes a Good Cup of Coffee
A great cup of coffee has a history and a story to tell! Here are some of the different elements that influence your cup of coffee, from the farmer’s hand to yours.
Arabica vs. Robusta
There are several species of coffee, but only two grow in important volumes. Good quality coffee comes from a specific coffee tree, called “Coffea Arabica” that counts for the majority of coffee produced each year. The other is a species of coffee called “coffeacanephora” known as Robusta. Robusta is cheaper to produce as it grows at lower altitudes, in more elevated temperatures and is more resistant to disease, but sadly it doesn’t taste nice. Therefore, if you want good quality and great tasting coffee, chose Arabica coffee. All of our coffees are 100% Arabica.
Single-Origin vs. Blend
Single origin means the coffee is traceable, meaning it comes from one place: a particular farm or a cooperative of local farms within the same region. It’s coffee with personality, you can therefore taste the distinctive characteristics of origin, of the “terroir” in each cup. So for example a coffee from Ethiopia will normally have floral or fruity notes as where as one from Sumatra will have earthy and chocolaty notes. Blends are a mixture of two or more coffees from different origin, mixing all the beans up and losing that personality we talked about. However, if the blend is well made, it brings balance to the cup mixing the amazing qualities of each region, the challenge however is to keep the blend consistent.
Several factors play a role in producing good coffee, like altitude, rainfall, temperature, humidity and fertile soil. Coffee must ideally grow between 1000 to 1600 metres above sea level (there are some exceptions to this, like coffee grown in Hawaii at a lower altitude). The amount and distribution of rain is important to maintain the quality of the bean, less than 1000 millimetres of rain per year will limit the tree growth and more than 3000 millimetres the quality of the bean can decrease. When humidity is higher than 85% diseases can take place. The ideal temperature is anywhere between 17 to 23°C.
Processing refers to the method in which the cherry (raw fruit) of the coffee tree is converted to the finished coffee, that you and me like so very much. Just like the environment, the way coffee is processed will significantly shape the flavours in the resulting cup.
The target of the “washed” process is to savour the bean itself: you will taste the notes that come with the terrain, obtained by removing the majority of the fruit’s flesh before drying. Coffees processed in such way present a higher level of acidity with higher complexity resulting in what experts consider a “cleaner” cup.
The “natural” or “dry” process however leaves the fruit on the bean while drying takes place, adding therefore the sweetness of the berry to the coffee. This is a process that divides the coffee experts as some say it adds flavours that take away the characteristics of the region, however many believe that this process adds the most interesting flavours.
The “honey” process is the most daring as it leaves part of the flesh in the beans (the amount of that flesh is controlled by the de-pulping machine) and because higher flesh is left on the beans, there is a risk of over-fermentation. The name “honey” is a translation from the Spanish word “miel” (term used for the fruit mucilage).We believe that if any of these processes are done in the right way with high quality coffees, they will result in a delight to the senses. That is why we have hand picked different processes from different regions so you can explore different sensations and experiences in your cup. We can’t wait for you to try them!
By far one of the most exciting parts of the coffee cycle is the roasting. It elevates the bean to a new height, taking it from an almost tasteless boring green bean to the most intoxicating, aromatic and delicious tasting bean that we all love! There are different types of roasting profiles that take the bean from light brown to extra dark brown. The roasting level will affect significantly the taste of the cup. A Light Roast will have a pronounced acidity; a Medium Roast will provide a balanced flavour and aroma maintaining complex acidity, great for tasting the characteristics of origin; a Dark Roast will overpower the origin characteristics and give a bittersweet caramel flavour to the cup; it can still go darker to what we know as French Roast or Italian Roast which can have burnt tones to it.
And we reach the last but crucial step to our cup of coffee. Coffee has had the most amazing journey and transformation up to this point, it can be the best region, best quality, best roast, but if you do not brew it properly, the coffee will result in a bad cup. Oh, so much pressure you might say to yourself? Is it worth all the trouble? I can assure you it is. You can make the perfect cup of coffee at home by following simple tips. And if you can’t be bothered by any of the tips, just go to our fail-proof simple way of making coffee explained here.
And do remember that at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. The coffee you like is the coffee that is right for you!Check our store for our hand picked coffees we believe have all of the above qualities