Today (October the 1st), as we celebrate International Coffee Day, we thought we'd talk to you about the bean that helps the world go around!
Coffee has been around a lot longer than you might imagine, with the first plant being found in Yemen in the 1500s. Since then, the plant has been cultivated in India, South America, Europe, Indonesia and even the Caribbean!
Types of Coffee Beans
There are two main varieties of coffee beans - Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica gets its name from the Arab scholars who documented the first uses of coffee, claiming it help them prolong their working hours (not much has changed then). These beans account for around 60% of the world's coffee production, and many developing nations rely on the export of these beans to keep their economy going.
Robusta accounts for the other 40% of coffee consumed around the world. It has it's origins in sub-Saharan Africa, though Vietnam is currently the worlds largest exporter of the Robusta bean. The Robusta plant is easier and cheaper to care for than Arabica, has more antioxidants and also a higher caffeine content.
Whilst both beans have pros and cons, typically instant and filter coffee will use the Robusta bean, due to being cheaper and sometimes having a bitter taste attributable to it's Pyrazine content. Arabica is typically used in cafe coffee and premium coffee beans, due to a smoother taste and finish.
Going from Plant to Bean to Cup
Going from a coffee plant in South America to the flat white you make at home is a long process, which requires farmers, wholesalers, roasters and exporters at different points in the timeline. At it's most basic, the coffee cherries are harvested from the plant, roasted (sometimes up to 224 degrees celsius, the higher the temperature the darker the roast), ground into a fine powder to be used with your espresso machine, cafetera, french press or any other way you brew and then enjoyed in your cup!
Some health benefits of Coffee
We couldn't possibly pay tribute to coffee without touching on the many proven and claimed health benefits it's said to have. Here are a few of our favourite:
1. Coffee boosts your physical and mental performance
2. Coffee contains antioxidants which help fight off free radicals in your body
3. Coffee protects your brain from diseases including Parkinsons, Alzheimers and even dementia
4. Drinking coffee regularly can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of stroke
International Coffee Day 2020
This year, the International Coffee Organization (ICO), is focusing their efforts on the economic impacts of Covid-19, low global coffee prices and the effects of environmental challenges and threats on the industry as a whole.
It's a timely reminder to ensure that the coffee we buy is Fair Trade certified, and that farmers are being considered in the production cycle - without them there is no coffee!