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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

For the Love of Coffee

It has been equated to magic in a cup, the nectar of the gods. My close compatriots are familiar with my love for the sinister fluid. Of course, being a fitness enthusiast, water is an important part of life, for without it, we wouldn’t be able to make coffee!!!

Coffee owes its success to the caffeine it conceals as well as the sensory pleasures it evokes.
Who could resist its revitalising properties coupled with the unique aroma? No fragrance brands a home more welcoming than a pot of coffee.

Contrary to popular belief, coffee is produced from the seed of a fruit rather than a bean, which in actuality is a product of the entire process. The fruit are picked, the skin and pulp removed, the bean is then dried and the layers of its skin removed.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The coffee community splits the worlds best crops 3-ways.
High-grown milds, Brazils, Robustas.

The High-grown milds and Brazils come from the Coffee Arabica botanical species. Considered the ‘golden boy’ of the coffee world, Arabica is responsible for fixing the world on coffee. It has its origins in Ethiopia (where it still grows wild) and Yemen.

The difference between the two types of Arabica coffees is that the high-grown milds are grown at altitudes between 1200m – 1800m. These well watered mountainous regions provide the tree with optimal conditions in which to flourish. They are prepared with care and picked only when the fruit are ripe.
Brazils are a lower grade of coffee grown at lower altitudes, mass harvested and dried carelessly. Most supermarket canned blends contain a high proportion of Brazils.

Robustas, the third type, grow better at low altitudes than any of the Arabica and are more resistant to disease. However, the best Robusta cannot compare even to the Brazils in terms of flavour and fragrance.

Now that the history lesson is out the way…

When scrutinizing different types of coffees you may notice European names attached to each label.

These names refer to the ‘roast’ of the bean and NOT the origin. Some are tan and some are near black. The higher the temperatures and the longer the bean was in roasting, the darker it will become. What does this mean for the taste? The lighter roasts are easy on the palette and more ‘tea like’ and the darker roasts have a more burnt taste and are used in espresso blends. The roast names tend to vary by manufacturer but generally stick to similar connotations.

When you see coffees with non-European names such as Kenya, Sumatra, Java, Colombia, Ethiopia etc, these names refer to the origin of the bean and has nothing to do with the roast. Coffee can be purchased by origin, by roast or by blend. Below is the 'coffee band' where some of the worlds coffee is produced.

In Mexico, coffee is nurtured on small farms rather than being carelessly mass produced. Coffee beans from Guatemala, on the other hand, are grown in rich volcanic soil.  The coffee tends to be more rich. Depending on the exact region in which the coffee is grown, there is a spicy or chocolate tone to the brews.

Brazil and Colombia are the two largest coffee producers. The highest grade of coffee coming out of Colombia is the Colombian Supremo.

Checkers has recently brought in a wide selection of coffees into their growing brand. Starbucks coffees are directly imported by Checkers and the Starbucks Colombian selection is a must try (it's what helped me conclude this post!). Despite being R100 a bag, it's worth every penny!
Below is an extract from

"Checkers may not be your first port of call for coffee beans but visit one of their selected stores in the Western Cape and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The chain has significantly upped their coffee game with the launch of their ‘Coffee Collection’ – an impressive selection of single origins and locally roasted gourmet blends.
The ‘Foreign Ground’ range features single origins from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Malawi, Peru and Rwanda, whereas the ‘Home Brew’ range puts some of our local favourites, with the likes of Deluxe Coffeeworks and Tribe, on the shelves.
We tasted a few of the Foreign Ground single origins last week and we’ll admit that we’re pretty impressed!
A Foreign Ground single origin will cost you R49.99 and one of the Home Brew’s R69.99."

Unfortunately, as stated above, these are only available at the Western Cape stores. Hopefully they'll be making their way to Gauteng pretty soon!