If you reach for a cup of steaming coffee to start your day, you are in good company. According to Statistic Brain, 100 million Americans drink coffee on a daily basis with 60 percent of them admitting they need it to start their day. The type of coffee they consume varies from smooth Colombian coffee to dark French roast. Many are surprised to discover how little they actually know about their favorite coffee.
In Name Only
Its easy to get confused when it comes to the terms used to describe coffee. The name may refer to either the origin of the coffee or the roast of the coffee. When it comes to the terms Colombian and French, Colombian refers to where the coffee was grown, while French refers to the roast of the coffee. Colombian coffee beans can be French roasted, but French roasted coffee does not come from France. Any variety of coffee can be French roasted.
Approximately 60 species of coffee plants exist throughout the world, but two of these are commonly cultivated for the production of quality coffee. Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora are considered the best species for coffee production. Of the two, Coffea Arabica is considered the most flavorful and is the only species cultivated in Colombia. There are many cultivars of each species.
It's All in the Beans
Colombian coffee gets its flavor from both the variety of coffee tree grown and from the care and handling of the trees. Coffea Arabica grows slowly, which enhances the natural flavors in the coffee beans. Flavor is also influenced by the soil, temperature and climate in which the beans are grown. Colombia's climate affects the overall flavor of the beans. Most Colombian coffee is raised on small family farms, where workers tend to the coffee trees carefully, providing them with the best conditions for growth. Colombian coffee beans are washed to reduce the acidity and caffeine content. Colombian coffee is mild with a lower amount of caffeine than other coffees.
Coffee beans begin as soft, green beans that must be roasted and ground to produce coffee. As the beans roast, natural sugars inside the bean begin to caramelize, turning the bean brown. The amount of time the bean is roasted determines its flavor and color. While the names of the roasts differ among retailers, they range from light to very dark. French roast is the darkest roast. French roasted beans appear nearly black and shiny, as roasting brings the oils to the surface of the bean. French roast coffee is slightly bitter, but contains less acid than lighter roasts. French roast derives its flavor from the roasting itself, while Colombian coffee derives its flavor from the natural flavoroids in the beans.
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