Understanding the World of Coffee

It jump starts our day. It boosts our morale. It is the focal element of a time honored ritual practiced throughout the world. It is coffee.

There are two major types of coffee bean produced worldwide – arabica and robusta. If you drink the more traditional American canned coffees available in all grocery stores, you are probably drinking coffee made from robusta beans. If you are a bit of a connoisseur and purchase the gourmet products sold in coffee shops, you have no doubt developed a taste for the arabica bean. As their name implies, robusta beans are heartier and easier to produce. As a general rule, arabica coffees cost more but possess deeper, richer and more complex flavors. Robusta coffees tend to have a bitter taste with twice the amount of the caffeine of an arabica product. So if you are drinking robusta and want to step outside the box and enhance your coffee drinking experience, try a coffee made from arabica beans. It will probably taste better, and you will reduce your caffeine intake, too. Remember, arabica coffees are also available in grocery stores. Look for products with gourmet or premium labels.

Coffee beans are grown primarily in equatorial regions, and some of the best tasting coffees originate in Central America, Africa and Indonesia. You can purchase ground or whole bean coffee for brewing. Ground coffee requires less preparation time, but whole bean coffee stays fresh longer. If you prefer to use whole beans, however, you will need to purchase a grinder. Beans are roasted differently, too. Dark, medium and light roasts are available in most grocery stores and coffee shops. Darker roasts offer a lot of rich, bold flavor. Do not worry about obtaining too much of a jolt from the bolder coffees, either. Darker roasts actually contain less caffeine than most medium or lighter roasts. Try coffees from different regions. In one sense, coffee is a lot like wine. As you experience different roasts from different places, you will begin to appreciate and savor the immense variety of flavors that result from the variations in geography.

Unless you are huddled around a winter campfire in the high Sierras, do not percolate your coffee. The coffee generates a very pleasant aroma while it percolates, but it doesn’t taste as good from the cup. Brewing a great tasting coffee does not have to be a complex operation, and some of the best brewing methods are the simplest. It is hard to beat the automatic drip style coffee maker for brewing perfectly good coffee at home. These coffee makers are widely available, affordable and easy to use and maintain.

If you want to take your love of coffee to a spiritual level, however, consider purchasing a French press. These items are highly popular among those who really enjoy coffee. Although they require a little more effort than drip style coffee makers, they are still relatively easy to use. Heated water is poured directly over ground coffee in a glass or ceramic beaker. The mixture is stirred and allowed to steep. A lid with a plunger is placed on top of the beaker, and the plunger is pushed to separate the coffee from the grounds. It is that simple. The result, however, can be heavenly. Coffee brewed in a French press retains more of the flavor that can be lost to filters in the automatic drip process, and this coffee is best enjoyed immediately after brewing. Mornings are typically a busy time in any household, however. Because there is a little more maintenance and clean up involved with this brewing method, you might consider using a French press for making that perfect cup of coffee later in the day or during the weekend. The appearance and use of a French press can also lend an element of charm and ambiance when you are serving coffee to guests.