Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whoever would have thought that green coffe

By Cliff Eppalton

For the majority of coffee drinkers, the green coffee beans are something alien to them, in their endeavour to find a coffee that they can call their favorite brew. Again, a fact, unbeknown to the masses is that it is the quality of the 'green coffee beans' that impart the flavor of your coffee blend. Although totally unusable in the brewing of coffee in it's raw green unripened state - ripened coffee beans have a storage life of approximately 12 months. This is a significantly longer storage life than for both roasted and ground coffee.

With the price of some boutique coffees it is hard to conceive that coffee is actually grown from trees, but, it is the actual process of coffee production that is so labor intensive. Beans, in their raw state are picked by hand, both the ripe and unripened cherries. However, it is only the ripe cherries that have to be processed to produce the green coffee beans that are marketed and shipped for further processing.

Methods used to remove the outer hull and the inner parchment surrounding the beans can be a long process. Taking into account cost effectiveness, many smaller processing companies leave the beans lying in the sun to dry out before washing away the inner materials, Once the green coffee beans (seeds) have been cleansed and dried, they are bagged in shipments to be despatched to the coffee roasters. The price of the beans reflect their appearance, their size but also the coffee plantations from which they were taken and the region of that coffee plantation.

Coffee roasting - a tedious, labor intensive process

The green coffee beans have to be prepared for roasting and the actual time these beans are exposed to the heat, determines the flavor of the coffee. When beans are lightly roasted they exhibit the flavor of the region from which they were grown. For example, the beans grown for cultivation in Kona, Hawaii or Java are usually lightly roasted to retain the flavor of the soil in which they were grown. That is why coffee grown in different regions has it's own unique flavor.

If the green coffee beans are roasted for longer, they turn color and often they have a coating of oil on the outer part of the bean. The longer the roasting period, the more of the inherent flavoring of the individual growing regions are lost and, it is nigh impossible to determine from which coffee growing region of the world dark roasted beans may have been grown in and therefore originate.

Also, the nature of the heat source will affect the flavor of the roasted green coffee beans and the temperatures of the roasters can affect and change the flavor as well. On top of all that - the quality of the beans will begin to deteriorate at the time of roasting and up to the time the beans are vacuum packaged. Up until the advent of vacuum packaging for roasted beans,many roasted beans were discarded if not used within two weeks.

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