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It represents 70% of coffee production.
It comes from Ethiopia and grows at altitudes of between 600 and 2,000 meters, at temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius, in very sunny areas with frequent rains. Two climates for its optimal growth have been defined:
Area of latitudes higher than 16-24º, where rainy and dry seasons are well defined and moderate altitudes between 600 and 1,200 meters. These conditions allow a flowering season as well as the ripening one during the dry period. This makes harvesting to occur seven months after flowering. Dry weather allows drying coffee in the outer patios, which results in its low to medium acidity and full body. Coffee areas with these characteristics are: Mexico, Jamaica and Brazil (State of Minas Gerais)
Area below the latitude of 10 °. Frequent rains cause the bloom is almost constant, making 2 harvest seasons possible, the main harvest period defined by the heavy rains and the second one determined by the period of low rainfall, each of which lasts about 4-5 months. The lack of synchronization of flowering means that we have ripe fruits, together with green ones and even flowers. The coffees produced in these areas are characterized by high acidity and fine cup, especially the ones produced in high altitudes.
The Arabica grain is oval with an incision along the curve-shaped grain. Arabica coffees are mild, aromatic and, depending on altitude, more or less acid. They are also low in caffeine.
It is a variety that is grown at above 1,000 meters of sea level.
It is more resistant to pests than the Arabica variety, hence its name. It tolerates hotter and more humid environments better, but is more sensitive to cold.
It is a less aromatic coffee without acidity and with increased caffeine content. It has less oil and is stronger and rough in the cup than Arabica.
The grain is rounded and has a straight incision along it.
Green coffee beans have no special flavor than that of a cereal. In order to obtain full coffee aroma it is necessary to stimulate it, which takes place in the process of toasting. Depending on how it is done, the resulting product will have one characteristics or another.
For example coffee, chosen by its characteristics when raw, can be ruined with bad toast. This is an artisan operation requiring eyes and hands of an expert.
Each type coffee requires a different kind of toast, which is why in El Abra each kind of coffee is toasted independently, according to its origin and then is mixed with others to obtain the desired mixtures for both Hospitality and Home sectors. Coffee in the roasting machine is continuously moving and is exposed to a stream of hot air which stimulates the roasting process.
This process involves several stages:
1.- Drying phase, in which the humidity (approx. 10%) is removed.
At this stage the coffee goes from green to straw-colored (yellowish).
- Toasting phase, in which a number of pyrolytic reactions occur.
At this stage a large amount of CO2 is produced inside the grains which can reach a pressure of 25 bar producing small explosions, similar to those seen when making popcorn. Also hundreds of different substances are produced, which are the factors that give coffee its aroma and flavor. The coffee goes brown and if the toast process continues, it will go dark brown and even black. Depending on the toasting point, we will have different characteristics in coffee, thus if toasting process prolongs, the acidity decreases and bitterness increases.
- Cooling stage.
At this stage fine sprayed water or large volumes of air is introduced in order to instantly stop the toasting process, otherwise this would continuously change the toasting point that the expert sought.
In the toasting process, the coffee loses between 15% and 20% in weight and its volume increases between 30% and 50%
Toasting process takes between 12 and 20 minutes depending on the machine. An ideal toasting time is around 15/18 minutes.
Varieties of roasted coffee
There is a type of coffee in the market that is roasted with 15% sugar, which, when melted, surrounds the grain and gives it a shiny black color. This coffee is called TORREFACTO (high roasted coffee)
High roasted coffee is often mixed with the naturally roasted one to provide bitterness and black color. It is an addition that does not result in improving the characteristics of the aroma or the flavor of a good coffee, on the contrary, it conceals it.
High roasted coffee was developed due to a problem that arises with coffee after roasting, especially if the type of toast is high: the aromatic coffee oils are oxidized due to coming into contact with oxygen in the air and thus give the coffee a rancid taste.
On the transatlantic sailing boat trips which last many days, coffee deteriorated easily. An Italian man came up with the idea of roasting it together with molasses which would produce a caramel layer around the grain and isolate it from contact with the air, avoiding rancidity. In some regions the habit of drinking high roasted coffee is still maintained.
When coffee is roasted without adding any additives, we obtain what is called “Natural Roast Coffee” (not to be confused with coffees treated with dry method, called Natural Coffees). This type of coffee is the most commonly used one because it keeps intact the organoleptic characteristics which the toast master wanted to convey in the blend.
There are 3 types of roast defined on the market:
– Light or blond roast which is mainly used in countries of Northern and Central Europe (light brown).
– Medium roast used mainly in Northern Spain (dark brown).
– High roast with a very dark brown color used mainly in the Mediterranean area of France, Italy, Southern Spain and in Portugal.