Coffee is the most popular drink in the world: for Italians it is a ritual, Americans are crazy about it, it is appreciated at all latitudes. Some people drink it bitter, others very sweet. Some people drink it restricted, corrected with alcohol or milk. Some people drink it in a glass cup, others drink it quickly and then run to the office… But what’s coffee?
The word “coffee” comes from the Arabic “qahwa”, which means “what raises you”. Spreading in Arabia, the drink was called “kahvé”. Finally, with the diffusion in Europe and in the world, it has been called in the different countries Caffè, Coffee, Cafè, Kaffee etc…
There are many legends about the discovery of coffee. Elena Di Troia, for example, seems to entertain her guests by offering them a drink colled “nepenthe”, also known as “the black drink of Gods“. Kaldi, an Ethiopian shepherd, would have noticed that his goats “stirred” after having chewed coffee leaves. Then, there are Christian legends, involving Moses, or Muslims, involving Allah, to the most credible legends like the burning of an Abyssinia wood that would have accidentally revealed to men the aroma of roasted coffee beans. What is certain is that its unmistakable aroma accompanies man since he was born and at every latitude.
Coffee is an evergreen shrub of the Coffea genus, of the Rubiacee family, originally from Ethiopia. Its flowers smell of jasmine, are white and bloom for a few days before wilting. Its fruits, the “drupes”, grow on the branches arranged similar to cherries or olives and are of an intense color, mostly red and sometimes yellow. Inside the fruit we find the seed, usually divided into 2 parts coupled, which will become our coffee bean.The fruits are grouped in clusters. The clusters simultaneously contain fruits of different ripeness and with different defects. Coffee grows in the tropical areas of the world, where rains are abundant, from 500 to 2000 meters above sea level, improving its quality with altitude. The plant grows on any soil, even if the best is volcanic, on spontaneous shrubs, semi-cultivated or cultivated “in battery”, in shaded or full sun plantations.
In the same year you can get from one to five coffee crops. The fruits can be picked:- by hand, one by one, collecting only ripe fruits;- by quickly pulling all the cherries from the branches, tearing them from the inside out, getting ripe drupes, dried drupes, drupes marches, flowers and branches;- mechanically, passing over the rows of plantations in “battery” with machines that shake the bushes, dropping the cherries.After harvesting, the pulp is removed by natural or dry method. At this point, the coffee is put in jute bags of 60/70 kg and travels on large ships up to reach roasting all over the world, where it is cleaned, selected, toasted, ground, packaged and left to age for about 30 days . Finally, coffee arrives at the bar, at home, at the office … anywhere in the world for a pleasant break, possibly in company.
So, in such a complex production process, starting from crops so far from us, what should we choose, focusing on quality? What is the secret for an espresso that preserves tradition but is young and modern, appreciated by international consumers, which is good for health: