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Coffee 101: Beyond the Barista

Coffee is a lifeline to the waking world. It’s a ritual, a treat and an indulgence. The way we take our coffee is as unique as each of us—maybe it’s a splash of cream, a dash of sugar, all of those or just plain black. Coffee drinkers know that coffee is special—but few know the steps it takes to get from bean to our cup. This everyday drink is ubiquitous, and yet its origins remain a mystery to many of its biggest fans.

Until now.

We’ve decided to go beyond the barista and explore the farm-to-cup journey behind your favorite cuppa Joe. Delve into the next level of coffee knowledge!

Where it Grows: The Coffee Belt

You’ll find all the coffee in the world growing in an area roughly 30 degrees north and south of the equator, all along the surface of the globe. This imaginary strip of land is called the “coffee belt” and represents the unique climate and habitat where the coffee tree can thrive.

The Plant

The genus Coffea encompasses many different varieties of coffee trees that are all used to make coffee beans. The well-known molecule caffeine derives its name origins from the coffee plant. Coffee beans (although not true legumes) are the seed of the coffee tree. They grow nestled inside a cherry-like fruit (called a coffee cherry) that has skin and pulp.

The Process

Ripe cherries are harvested and then brought to processing. During processing, an enzymatic change takes place in the beans. This brings about a different internal chemistry in the bean, allowing for certain flavors and aromas to come out during roasting. There are several main kinds of processing:

  • Wet process/washed process: The fruit pulp is removed from the beans shortly after harvesting using water and special machines that strip the pulp from the seed. The beans are then dried.
  • Dry process/unwashed/natural: Known by different names depending on the area, this process leaves the coffee cherry intact. The whole fruit is carefully dried (sometimes for up to a month) with the seed inside it. This method requires attentive turning of the cherries and an experienced worker to know when the coffee has finished drying. Overdrying and under-drying both have a negative effect on the quality of the beans, which is why this step is so important. After drying, the cherries are hulled from the beans by a machine.
  • Semidry/honey process: This process can be found by many names, but in all cases, it blends wet and dry methodologies. Most of the fruit pulp is removed shortly after harvesting, but not all. The coffee is then dried with the remaining pulp intact imparting distinct flavors. The pulp is eventually removed after drying.

Roasting

Once dry, the coffee is cleaned (papery layers of chaff are removed from the bean), graded, sorted and packed. Then it’s off to the roaster. When roasters get coffee, it’s called “green coffee.” Just like growing, harvesting and processing, roasting is a specialized skill with many variables.

Roasted coffee can range from a light brown to almost black in color. Coffee beans are akin to wine in that they possess their own terroir based on genetics, origin and processing. Roasting is the final step in developing potential flavors and aromas.

Two major reactions take place during roasting: caramelization and carbonization. Natural plant sugars caramelize from the heat of roasting. This is why lighter roasts can taste somewhat sweet. The longer beans are roasted the more carbonization takes place, creating a dark color and robust, smoky flavors. Finding the best balance between these two qualities is the roaster’s job for each type of coffee.

The Caffeine Myth

The darker the coffee, the more caffeine? Wrong! Caffeine is a heat-sensitive molecule and is gradually destroyed during roasting. Darker roasts are exposed to heat for longer and have less caffeine than lighter roast coffees as a result.

Rule of “15s”

To enjoy coffee at its fullest, follow one simple rule: the rule of 15s. The rule of 15s states that coffee should be:

  • Enjoyed within 15 days of roasting
  • Brewed 15 minutes after grinding
  • Served within 15 seconds of brewing
  • Consumed within 15 minutes of brewing

The finer the coffee, the more dramatic the impact will be when applying the 15s rule. One notable exception to the rule is cold brew coffee, which is more stable when serving since it’s extracted differently than hot brewed coffee.

Art and Science

As craft coffee evolves, it continues to demonstrate a dual approach. It’s part art and part science, just like how we make our glassware. We created our Thermic Collection with the home connoisseur and the coffee professional in mind. It’s the perfect blend of form and function for the discerning enthusiast who wants modern glassware for the everyday. The Thermic Cafe is just the kind of mug you want to cozy up to in the morning. On the other hand, the Thermic Latte eschews a handle for a modern shape that’s perfect for lattes and mochas. Coffee fans will also fall in love with the Thermic EspressoThermic Multi Purpose Cup (perfect for large cappuccinos) and Thermic Irish Coffee. Double-walled borosilicate glass makes these glasses extra-strong, stunningly stylish and thermally efficient at keeping drinks hot or cold. Plus, they’re dishwasher safe, so you can spend more time enjoying your coffee.

 

At Luigi Bormioli, we take pride in our Italian-crafted, superior quality glassware. You will enjoy their beauty, durability and strength for many years to come. We aim to enhance your tabletop lifestyle and entertaining experience with a glass for every occasion. When the moment matters, the glass matters.

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