Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Responsive brief/ Douwe Egberts: How coffee is made

The Brilliant Bean

Mysterious Origin
We do not know exactly when the secret of the coffee plant was discovered, but there are several stories that give us a good idea.

Arabic Medicine
An Arabic doctor named Rhazes, made reference to the coffee plant as early as 900 B.C. He considered the berries found on a coffee plant to be good for the stomach.

Discovered by Goats
The second story dates back to around 300 A.D. An Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats were eating the red berries of a green plant. To his amazement Kaldi noticed his herd were always full of energy & froliced around well into the evening. Kaldi was curious & so ate some of the berries himself, he found he too was full of energy, or I suppose you could say, 'full of beans!'

Monks Discover Coffee
Kaldi relayed his story to monks from the nearby abbey, they went on to use the berries to stay awake and alert during their nightly prayer services. By pure coincidence the monks discovered that you could roast the beans and make them into a delicious drink, far nicer than eating the berries! From this time on, coffee beans & their extract have been used as a daily pick me up by people all over the world.

Cultivating Coffee in the Yemen
The first organised cultivation of coffee appeared in the terrace gardens of Yemen. Islamic pilgrims who travelled to Mecca and Medina introduced the use of coffee into the Near East. The cultivation of coffee continued to spread across Arabia and Egypt & drinking coffee, or kahweh, soon became a daily habit.

Coffee Houses in Europe
In the 17th century coffee use spread across Europe & the popularity of the drink grew incredibly quickly. Coffee houses started opening up everywhere, inparticular Italy, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France and Germany.

Coffee Across the World
Early in the 18th century the popularity of coffee started to spread across the world. The Dutch introduced coffee to Indonesia, the French took coffee plants with them to Martinique and the Spanish established plantations in the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil. Douwe Egberts was established in the Netherlands in 1753.

Coffee Today
Nowadays Brazil is the worlds largest coffee producer, followed by Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. However there are a large number of other countries producing smaller quantities. Worldwide, more than 20 million people earn their living by working in the coffee industry.

The Coffee Plant

Arabica and Robusta
The coffee plant belongs the plant genus Coffea & there are more than sixty different varieties. However most of the coffee consumed is either Coffea Arabica (Arabica beans) or Coffea Robusta (Robusta beans).

The Coffee Plant
A ripe coffee berry looks very much like a cranberry. In some parts of Africa, mainly in the Ivory Coast & Uganda, coffee plants growth wild & depending on the variety can grow to as high as 15 metres. On coffee plantations the plants are not allowed to grow any higher than 3 metres, this gives a higher yield of berries & makes harvesting an easier task. One coffee plant can produce berries for up to 25 years!

What does the coffee plant look like?
The leaves are wide, dark green and very glossy, they look quite similar to that of a camellia. The blossoms of the coffee plant are small, white, star shaped flowers that smell very much like jasmine.

Blossom & Harvest
Depending on the altitude and the weather conditions, the period between the coffee plant blossoming & the berries being ready to harvest is around eight to nine months. The plants often bloom for six to eight weeks, so it's quite common to find ripe & unripe berries on the same branch. It's vital that the plants are tended to regularly during bloom to ensure the optimum harvest, as the beans are picked by hand, it's very labour intensive & probably the most valuable step in the entire coffee process.

1kg per Plant
One coffee plant can produce up to 2000 beans a year, this translates to 1kg of raw coffee per year, per plant. With modern agricultural techniques we are able to harvest about 3000 - 4000 kg's of coffee per hectare of coffee plants.

Arabica & Robusta, coffee superstars

Popular Coffee Plants
Coffee plants originate from countries around the equator, the two most popular coffee types are Arabica and Robusta. Worldwide there are about 9 million arabica plants and 3 million robusta plants. Many of our products use a special blend of robusta & arabica beans to create the unique Douwe Egberts taste.

Origins of Arabica
As it's name suggests, you'd be excused for thinking arabica beans are Arabian in origin. In fact it owes its name to an Arabic tradesman who brought the coffee plant from Ethiopia to the Yemen. Nowadays, arabica coffee plants are mainly grown in Central & Southern America. Arabica coffee beans are known for their mild flavour & delicate aroma, generally they produce a lower yield of beans than the robusta plant, therefore tend to be more expensive. In contrast robusta beans have a stronger and more powerful taste.

The Master Blender
Each bean has its own taste & this can vary depending on the seasons or origin of the bean. The Douwe Egberts Master Blenders use their experience & expertise to profile each batch of beans & blend them together to create the unmistakable Douwe Egberts taste that is loved the world over.

Getting the bean out of the berry

A ripe coffee berry consists of 2 beans surrounded by skin, fruit flesh and peel. There are 2 methods, wet or dry, to strip away all the layers & get to the bean.
The Wet Method

Soak and Clean
The berries first go through a water channel to soak them, removing dirt & debris. The unripe berries sink to the bottom and the ripe berries will float to the top.

Next the berries are scoured in a machine to remove the outer fruit flesh. In the early days of coffee production, the pulp was thrown away, however we now mix it with minerals & reuse it as a fertiliser.

During the next stage the coffee beans are put into a large water vat & left to ferment for two days. This helps to remove more of the fruit flesh as well as the sticky outer layer of the coffee bean. It's during this process that the beans develop their rich aroma and special taste.

Parchment Coffee
When fermentation is complete, the coffee is thoroughly washed. At this stage beans still have an outer parchment skin, this is why it's often called 'parchment coffee'.

Sun Dried Coffee
The washed parchment coffee is then spread out on concrete slabs or drying racks and left out in the sun to dry. To ensure that the beans dry evenly they are turned over several times a day. Large scale coffee plantations often make use of drying machines, that way the drying process can be reduced down to just 24 hours.

Pergamino Coffee
Dried parchment coffee has a beautiful golden yellow colour and is called 'pergamino coffee'. After the drying process is complete the beans are then ready to be transported to a wholesale distributor or exporter.

Green & Blue Beans
In a peeling machine similar to that used during scouring, the remaining dried fruit flesh, the parchment skin and the outer husk of the coffee bean are removed. At this stage the olive green colour of the beans is revealed, some beans are a blue colour & these are particularly valuable.

The beans are sieved to remove any debris or damaged beans, then a machine sorts them according to their size & shape. After that specially trained staff sort the beans according to their quality class, however there are now machines available that can do this to automate the process.

A Simple Technique
In Brazil & many parts of Africa, farmers use the dry method. This is often used for Arabica and Robusta berries of lesser quality, it is a simple technique that is less labour-intensive than the wet method.

Two Weeks of Drying
First all twigs, leaves, stones and other debris are removed. The berries are then simply lain out on concrete slabs & left to dry, they are regularly turned to ensure they dry evenly.

Peeling the Beans
When the beans are completely dry, they are peeled in a similar machine that is used in the wet method. The beans are stripped of their pulp and the outer parchment skin.

Cleaning & Selecting
After peeling the beans are cleaned, the remaining debris is removed using a vibrating sieves, then the beans are sorted according to size. After this the beans are put in sacks & transported to wholesale distributors or exporters.

Blending, the secret of Douwe Egberts coffee

It's important to remember that coffee is a natural product, therefore no two harvests are the same. In order to produce the optimum flavour, various types of coffee beans are blended together. The aim of blending coffee is to ensure that the flavour and aroma are consistent throughout the year. The Douwe Egberts master blenders use their experience & expertise to adjust the mix of coffee types to ensure your coffee has the same great taste every time you drink it.

It's a matter of taste!
As well as blending to get the optimum taste, blends are also developed to meet the taste preferences of the different Douwe Egberts countries. For example in Greece & Turkey, consumers enjoy a dark & intense coffee blend, whereas here in the UK, we tend to prefer a more rounded medium roast coffee.

Roasting coffee - release the flavour

The Hidden Flavour
Coffee's characteristic flavour and aroma only develop during the roasting process. Roasting green coffee beans sets a series of complex chemical reactions in motion, it's these reactions that release the flavour that's hidden within each bean.

The Art of Roasting
The roasting of coffee beans is an art as much as a science. Beans react differently to the roasting process, it depends on the soil and weather conditions in which they were grown as well as the processing method used. Our experienced roasters adjust the roasting time & temperature to ensure they get the best taste out of each batch of beans.

Up to 500 °C
During roasting, the green beans are exposed to very high temperatures in excess of 500 degrees celsius. The temperature inside the bean rises to between 200 - 250 degrees celsius, it's this temperature that brings about the chemical reactions.

Aromatic Oils
As the moisture evaporates the aromatic oils contained in the coffee beans are released, the sugar in the beans then start to caramelise, this is what gives the coffee beans their distinct flavour and deep brown colour. The final stage involves the coffee beans being moistened with water, then they are cooled using cold air.

Three Types of Roasting
The temperature & length of roasting determines the strength of the final flavour, each country has it's own preference.
Light or blonde roasting gives coffee a mild flavour, this is popular in Scandinavia for example.
Medium roasting produces a somewhat stronger flavour & is popular in Central Europe and the USA.
Dark roasting results in very strong intense flavoured coffee intended to be drunk black, this tends to suit Southern European tastes.

Grinding and packing, the finishing touch

The Rolling Mill
After roasting the coffee beans are ground in a coffee mill. A rolling mill consists of several groups of cylinders placed on top of each other, the beans are fed between two cylinders, which turn in opposite directions. Each group grinds the beans more finely until the required grind size is reached.

Coffee in the beginning
Until the middle of the 19th century coffee roasting was carried out by the individual coffee houses & was often done at home. Therefore there was no real demand for pre-packed coffee, however when large scale commercial roasting was introduced this changed!

Pre-packed coffee
The main benefit of the introduction of commercial roasting was that through packaging, the freshness of the coffee could be preserved for longer. We at Douwe Egberts vacuum pack our coffees to ensure they are in optimum condition when they reach your home. The roast & ground coffee is very delicate & the quality & flavour can deteriorate when it comes into contact with oxygen.

Quality Guarantee
On each pack of Douwe Egberts coffee you will find the guarantee for constant quality, along with the Douwe Egberts seal & signature. These are your assurance of our constant quality & high standards.

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