Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

A Brief History of Coffee Grinders

Coffee beans were discovered around 900 A.D. and were first used as a beverage in Yeman. It is also where the coffee beans were first ground. Before we talk about the grinding, we need to step back and look at how coffee cherries were first turned into coffee beans. Coffee cherries were first picked from coffee bushes or trees depending on how well they grew. These Arabica coffee cherries were picked when the cherries were a bright color. They were then put in the fire and roasted until the cherries burst open. This process produced two roasted coffee beans from each coffee cherry.

Now, lets talk about how they were ground. People in the Middle East were already grinding grains and spices. They were grinding them by simply pounding between two rocks or using a pestle and mortar. The pestle and mortar were made mainly from stone and wood because they had resistance to absorbing the chemicals that left flavors and scents of various foods. Coffee beans, although much tougher, were also ground by this method. However, even though they were boiled first because they were tougher than grains and spices, they were not ground very fine. The coarsely ground beans were put in a special copper or brass coffee maker called an Ibrik. An Ibrik is somewhat round on the bottom half and then had a straight body the rest of the way up. There was a long fairly wide spout at the top and a metal strap handle in the shape of a large C connected to the pot. Drinkers strained the coffee through their teeth to get the full flavor of the coffee. Today, some still grind the coffee beans with a pestle and mortar. To get the consistency of a drip grind, it takes up to ten hours of grinding with a stone pestle and mortar by hand.

As the coffee beans were exported by traders to different parts of the world, coffee grinders were created using some other kind of apparatus. When coffee reached Europe, spice grinders that were already being used were the first step towards the mechanical coffee grinder. It is believed that the first bean grinder was produced as early as the 14th century in Europe. The first known coffee grinder was mass produced in the early 1800's in France, but the inventor remains unknown.

By the mid-1800s, various coffee grinders were seen in almost every home in Europe and America. Most of the coffee grinders had a grinding handle on the top of a box that was set inside a bowl shaped holder of roasted coffee beans. The bottom of the box had a drawer that held the coffee beans after being ground. Some grinders were elaborately made and decorated. Today's household coffee grinders are mainly electric and use ceramic burrs or stainless steel blades to grind coffee. Commercial use grinders however use only ceramic burrs.

Sabtu, 13 Oktober 2012

Terroir and Coffee

The term terroir, borrowed from the French, is a romantic sounding word, even in our rough translation, "a sense of place." However, behind this romanticism there is quite a bit of science. The way a growing location's different features can affect a plant, interacting with the way its genetic features are expressed, can have an incredible impact on the food and drink we make from these plants. Any experienced wine drinker will confirm this and, now more than ever, coffee drinkers may have something to say as well. Terroir can have a noticeable effect on the taste of your coffee, especially if you are drinking the right kind.

Terroir of a Single Estate

Single estate coffee is a relatively new trend in which coffee is sourced from one single farm, rather than from a region, or a blend from more than one region. The benefits of this practice are taste that can develop a unique complexity unlike any other. For single estate coffee, terroir is key, and only with single estate coffee can terroir be truly appreciated. This is because the microclimate of an estate, and this is particularly so on the very small estates where coffee beans are grown, will have such a unique character. Every detail, major and minor, from climate down to what types of plants are growing nearby, will contribute to the distinct flavors, which will only be expressed at full strength when not mixed into a blend.

Jamaica Blue Mountain Terroir

One of the finest examples of terroir in the coffee world can be found in Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans. Grown high above sea level, at elevations between 1,800 and 5,500 feet, these peaks are a treasure trove because they just happen to boast the perfect growing climate for coffee. At the elevations where authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain is grown (export regulations are very strict), it is a green lush paradise, and perfectly mild, cool, and misty. The terroir interacts with the beans to create low levels of acidity that are unheard of anywhere else, all but removing the bitterness found in most coffees. A smoothness and mildness that has the rest of the world desperate to get some in their mugs is the result. Any coffee drinker should try this delicious phenomenon at least once, but if you are in the market for some Jamaican Blue Mountain, use caution. There are not many in the United States that are authorized to import it, and many that will try to pass over cheap blends that include just a little of the real stuff, cut with less expensive beans. Check your labels carefully, and look for single estate. You will be able to taste the difference.