Coffee

Degrees of Roast

A word on degrees of roasting. The popularity of coffee houses brought with it a taste toward dark roasts. Prior to the 1990s, the preference for dark roast was limited. Espresso brewing changed that, and the Starbucks Phenomenon has popularized even darker roasts.

The success of coffee houses, with their espresso-based drinks, is widespread today. Every city and town sports double and triple the number of shops than even a few years ago. There is a trend, dubbed “third wave”, that is elevating the making and serving of espressos, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and lattes. Whether it involves exacting specs for the coffee blend and roast, having a barista trained in latte art, or the perfectly pulled shot, the strive for excellence at coffee houses is on the rise.

We are seeing a move, however small, to lighter espresso roasts often called “Northern Italian Style”. Probably our best selling coffee is our French Roast, which has always been a “medium dark roast”. There is also a renewed interest in the variety of medium roast coffees used for drip brewing.

We at Coffee Express encourage coffee operations of all types to experiment, educate, and continue in your mission to become THE spot known all around for serving the finest beverages and food items. Use Coffee Express Co. as an important tool as you continue to gather information about trends and techniques that can help you create a better shop. We are at your service.

A History of Coffee, Part II – Coffee in Europe

Coffee In Europe

Coffee first came to Europe through the port of Venice. Because of their vibrant trade with North Africa, it was through these Venetian merchants that coffee was introduced to the rest of Europe. In 1600, Pope Clement VIII, baptized the drink – making it more acceptable to European markets.

The first European coffee houses started opening, circa 1645, in Italy. In 1652, Pasqua Rosee (the proprietor) and Daniel Edwards (a trader in Turkish goods) opened the first reported coffee shop at St Michael’s Alley in Cornhill, England. Coffee became so popular, that within 100 years, at least 3,000 coffee houses were operating in England. In France, coffee became a popular drink for the Parisians by 1670, after being introduced by an ambassador of Mehmed IV. Vienna had its first coffee shop open in 1683. In a short time coffee and coffee houses spread throughout Europe. Coffee had arrived as a popular drink, and a traded commodity.

Coffee Around The World

Coffee’s popularity coincided with the age of exploration. Hence, the rapid spread of the coffee plant throughout the world. The Dutch played a major role in bringing the plant to its trading partners, especially in India and Asia. The French are given credit for first introducing the plant to the Americas, but all of the colonial powers were influential in the spread of the coffee plant.

Today, coffee is grown throughout the world in mountainous regions between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The largest producer is Brazil, though there are many other medium to small regional growers around the world.

Coffee has had a long journey since Kaldi the goat herder first experienced coffee’s wonderful and magical nuances.

Better Espresso

Fresh ground coffee, clean water, and a clean running espresso machine are key for a good tasting espresso-based drink. A few simple steps will ensure you are getting the most out of your coffee, and your equipment.

Keep espresso beans in stock for no more than 3-4 weeks and try to keep them away from heat generating appliances. Heat destroys flavor. Grind just enough beans to last a shift. Once ground, coffee quickly loses flavor. A proper grind is important. Rub the grounds between your thumb and forefinger. It should be ground fine with a slight grit. If it is powder with no grit it is ground too fine. Your shots should pour slowly, thick and syrupy. If you are not sure, ask one of our delivery or service people.

Proper machine maintenance ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ will enhance both your coffee’s flavor and your pocket book.

Do

  • After each drink empty and rinse the brew basket and clean the steam tip. During a lull clean the loose grounds under the group head with a head cleaning brush.
  • At the end of the day back flush and rinse the group heads and soak the baskets in Cafiza, flush the drain tray, and clean the machine with a mild soap or a water-vinegar mix.
  • Weekly: Take the steam tips off, clean holes with a pin or paper clip, and soak overnight in Cafiza. If you are not using tea water regularly drain and refill the water tank, you might want to ask a service tech about this. Soak the diffuser screens overnight in Cafiza.
  • Monthly: Very important! Change the Softener.
  • Yearly: Change the brewhead gaskets.
  • Whenever you notice bad tasting coffee and cannot figure out why: Call a service tech.

Don’t

  • Leave the steam arm sitting in milk. The milk could back up into the system and create rancidity.
  • Leave the basket with used grounds in the group head. The spent grounds tend to contaminate the brew head, resulting in a stale taste. You should leave an empty rinsed basket in the head. This will help the taste of the next drink because the espresso is being brewed through a warm basket which results in better flavor extraction.

A History of Coffee, Part I – The Legend

The Legend

There are several legends concerning the origins of coffee, but they all seem to include Kaffa, an Ethiopian goat herder who was seen in a meadow dancing with his goats by an imam from a nearby monastery. Finding that both Kaffa and the goats had eaten red berries from a small tree, he gathered some of the berries and took them back to the monastery. After some experimentation, parching, and boiling, the imams came up with a palatable drink.

The Early Spread of Coffee

The first recorded mention of coffee comes in the tenth century, from a Persian physician, Razi. Very little more was recorded until the 14th Century when a Kurdish poet, Malaye Jaziri, wrote a book on the history and legal controversies of coffee.

By the fifteen hundreds coffee had spread across the Muslim world. Yemen merchants brought coffee from Ethiopia, grew it themselves, and began exporting their new product northward through the Saudi Peninsula. The first coffee house on record is Istanbul’s Keva Han, in 1471. The spread of this product, however, was not without problems: while it seems the Sufis of earlier times took to this new drink because of its ability to ward off sleep and help in meditation, many imams were concerned about its stimulating effects. Though its acceptance was slow in the Middle East, coffee was to become an important social and economic factor.

Coffee is still widely used in the Middle East, and today there are many different ways to roast and prepare it. Some of the fun of being a roaster is knowing that the coffees we roast come with such a rich and fascinating history, spanning many centuries, and many of the world’s great cultures.

In Part II we will cover the introduction of coffee to Western Europe.