Coffee trees are a shrub with a straight trunk that can survive about 50 to 70 years. The tree flowers during it's third year and actively produces fruit from the fifth year on. There are over sixty different species of coffee trees, but two of them are the most common. The arabica and the robusta.
Arabica trees grow at altitudes of 3,000 to 6,500 feet where the slower growing process adds to the flavor. Each mature tree produces about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of green coffee per year. Arabica trees account for 75% of the world's production.
Robusta trees have a higher yield than arabicas because they grow at lower elevations. Their beans contain about twice as much caffeine than it's tastier cousin. A typical robusta tree yields 2 to 3 pounds of green coffee a year. Robusta beans are used for the lower grades of coffee that are sold in the market, either in commercial supermarket coffees or instant (soluble).
There Are Three Major Coffee Growing Regions.
AFRICA : African includes coffees from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Ethiopia. Grown at the perfect altitude in rich black soil. The hot days and cool moist nights produce very distinctive beans.
SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA : Grown for the most part on beautiful mountains with rich volcanic soil. Rainforest type weather creates absolutely perfect growing conditions. These beans are the most aromatic and well balanced available. Includes coffees from Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil, Peru, El Salvador And Guatemala.
INDONESIA (PACIFIC) : Includes beans from Sumatra, New Guinea, Timor and Sulawesi. The climate produces low acid coffees with rich distinctive tastes. The beans tend to be on the ugly side but looks are deceiving.
Coffee flavor is the overall perception by your taste buds and palate of the coffee in your mouth. Acidity, aroma, and body are the three components of coffee flavor.
Professional coffee graders (cuppers) try to discern whether the acidity, aroma and body of the coffee is pleasant or unpleasant. Here are the criteria of the three components.
ACIDITY is a desirable characteristic in coffee. It is the sensation of dryness that the coffee produces under the edges of your tongue and on the back of your palate. The role acidity plays in coffee is similar to it's role in the flavor of wine. It provides a sharp, bright, vibrant quality. Without sufficient acidity, the coffee will tend to taste flat. Acidity should not be confused with sourness.
AROMA. Without our sense of smell, our only taste sensations would be: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The aroma contributes to the flavors we discern on our palates. Subtle nuances, such as "floral" or "winy" characteristics, are derived from the aroma of the brewed coffee.
BODY is the feeling that the coffee has in your mouth. It's the heaviness, thickness, or richness that is perceived on the tongue. A good example of body ould be that of the feeling of whole milk in your mouth, as compared to water. Your perception of the body of a coffee is related to the extraction from the round beans during brewing. Typically, Indonesian coffees will possess greater body than South and Central American coffees. If you are unsure of the level of body when comparing several coffees, try adding an equal amount of milk to each. Coffees with a heavier body will maintain more of their flavor when diluted.