The history of coffee

Kaffets historia sträcker sig långt tillbaka i tiden och har en fascinerande resa från sina ursprung i Etiopien till att bli en globalt omtyckt dryck. Det sägs att kaffet först upptäcktes av nomadiska getter som märkligt nog visade uppslukande energi efter att ha ätit av kaffebuskar. Detta fångade människors uppmärksamhet och snart började lokalbefolkningen i Etiopien använda kaffebönorna för att brygga en uppiggande dryck. Med tiden spred sig kaffekulturen över världen och kaffe blev en av de mest älskade och konsumerade dryckerna globalt. Kaffets historia är en berättelse om upptäckt, handel och passion för denna aromatiska dryck som har förenat människor över kulturer och generationer.

Upptäck vårt utbud av kaffe & livsmedel här

The coffee tree grows in subtropical climates, has dark green shiny leaves and is covered with white flowers when it blooms. The scent of these flowers is reminiscent of jasmine. The flowers are replaced after just a few days by green cherry-like fruits. The fruits sit in clusters and change their color from different shifts of green via golden brown to red or yellow. When the fruits have reached their final color, ie some form of red mixed with yellow, they are ripe.

There are more than 70 species of coffee trees in the genus Coffea, the two most common being Arabica (Coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea canephora). Arabica is by far the most common species because it accounts for about three quarters of all coffee production. Coffea arabica is a typical tropical highland plant and is much more difficult to grow than Robusta. The two together account for about 98 percent of all coffee production. The size of the coffee trees varies from small dwarf shrubs to trees about twelve meters high.

Growing coffee requires a lot of careful work. From seed to cup, you go through the different stages of planting, cultivation, harvesting, preparation, classification, mixing, roasting, grinding and last but not least preparation.

Before planting the seeds, you must first select and germinate them. They are raised in nurseries where they get just the right amount of sun and shade. About six months later, it's time to plant them in the fields. There, the soil has been prepared with fertilizers and minerals. The plants are placed in rows that follow the level curves of the slopes and with plenty of space between the rows to facilitate the care of the trees. Care is required all year round and it takes at least two years before the plants give any harvest.

There are different ways to harvest the coffee. You can only hand-pick the ripe berries on each bunch, you can scratch all the berries by hand on a branch, no matter what stage of ripening they are in, and you can use a pneumatic device that shakes the branches so that the ripe berries fall to the ground. Inside each berry are two beans. Almost 150 million bags of 60 kg of coffee beans are produced per year.

When you only hand-pick the ripe berries, you prepare them according to what is usually called the wet method. This means that the berries are placed in a peeling machine, a pulp, which removes most of the pulp. Then the berries are left in a basin for 1-3 days. Naturally occurring enzymes work in the basin that dissolve the remaining pulp. After that, the beans are washed and then they are dried and when they have dried, the two membranes, the silver membrane and the parchment membrane, are peeled off with the help of a machine.

In the other harvesting methods, the beans are collected in sixty-liter baskets. Any twigs, leaves and the like are sorted out and the berries are washed. In washing, the ripe berries are distinguished from old, dry berries that have begun to rot. Then they should be dried. This is done on large concrete terraces where the berries can lie in the sun and dry for 15-20 days. During this time, they are turned approximately every twenty minutes to make the drying as even as possible. The ideal moisture content of coffee beans is 11-12 percent, and when the beans have reached there, the skins are peeled off in a machine. The coffee beans are packed and sent on to be classified.

Classification is done using random samples. Each sack is stuck with a long pointed tool that takes a small sample of each sack. These samples are then collected into units of 300 grams and classified by number of defects. Defects include e.g. broken beans, green beans, shells, twigs and pebbles. This classification determines the price the grower may charge for their coffee. At the same time, the beans are sorted by size and weight, to be filled into sixty-kilo sacks where all the beans are of equal size and quality. They are then ready to be resold.

A taster also tastes the coffee at this stage. Beans from the sampling are lightly roasted, ground and distributed in small quantities in a number of glasses, after which they are poured into boiling water. The taster absorbs the aroma from each glass, then the samples are allowed to cool. When the grains have sunk to the bottom, the taster takes a sample with a spoon, sucks it into his mouth and quickly spits it out again. At a fast pace, he cuts down all the glass in the same way. When done, he classifies the coffee according to a scale that goes from mild to hard.

The mixture is usually made with raw coffee and the goal is to achieve a combination of different types of coffee with properties that complement each other, so that the end result is a balanced product with good taste, aroma and fullness. The roasting, which comes next, can be light, medium or dark. It is in the roasting that the aroma that is so special for coffee is released. The last step is grinding. There, the coarseness of the grains is determined depending on whether it is intended to be brewed, boiled or whether it is for espresso, Turkish coffee or some other variant.