espresso espresso - all things coffee

Hows your coffee's flavour

Whether you choose to percolate it, drip brew it or French press it, we all know that the way we prepare coffee influences how it tastes.

But there are a number of factors which affect a coffee beanís flavour long before we ever begin to prepare ourselves a cup.

So whatís involved? Letís take a look...

Where itís grown

Climate, soil, altitude, topography: they all play their own part in defining how a coffee will taste once itís been prepared and poured into your cup.

So, for example, coffees which grow in higher altitudes are more likely to taste sweeter and to be slightly more acidic. Thatís because when night comes around, thereís a big drop in temperature, and the coffee tree produces more sugar to protect itself from the harsh climate.

How it was picked

Not all coffee cherries ripen at the same time and there often a mix of underripe and overripe cherries left on the branch.

The cheaper methods of coffee production include a process called Ďstrip-pickingí. Thatís where all these cherries are picked from the branch at the same time. But having a mix of underripe and overripe cherries in your blend greatly affects its flavour.

Beans from underripe cherries tend to have a high concentration of citric acid, which lends a sour taste to the finished cup. Overripe, can leave a vinegary taste, since it contains a high level of acetic acid.

Better quality production methods will select only the ripe cherries, and leave the unripe on the branch until theyíve more fully developed. Unfortunately, hand-picking in this way can get a little expensive.

How long it was roasted

From light to dark, did you know itís the roasting process that gives that coffee the characteristic flavour we love?

And the flavour isnít just determined by how long the bean spends in the roaster, there are other roasting methods too.

In some countries, including Spain, Portugal and Argentina, a roasting process known as Torrefacto is popular, where sugar is added to the roast in order to glaze the beans. While the process actually increases the acidity and bitterness of the beans, it does increase the coffeeís antioxidant capacity.

How it was ground

How the beans were ground is another important process since itíll impact on the type of brewing method you use.

Beans which have been finely ground are best used in faster preparations, where the coffee grounds arenít exposed to hot water for too longer. A more course ground is preferred in longer brewing methods since overexposing finely ground coffee to hot water will result in a harsher, bitter taste.

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