Friday, June 29, 2012

What is Specialty Coffee?

Article by Ric Rhinehart: What is Specialty Coffee? 

In a 1998 article for the Specialty Coffee Chronicle Don Holly wrote the following as he grappled with the question of defining specialty coffee: "My understanding of the origin of the term 'specialty coffee' is that it was first coined by Erna Knutsen, of Knutsen Coffee Ltd., in a speech to the delegates of an international coffee conference in Montreuil, France, in 1978. In essence, the concept was quite simple: special geographic microclimates produce beans with unique flavor profiles, which she referred to as 'specialty coffees.' Underlying this idea of coffee appellations was the fundamental premise that specialty coffee beans would always be well prepared, freshly roasted, and properly brewed. This was the craft of the specialty coffee industry that had been slowly evolving during the twenty-year period preceding her speech. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) continues to define specialty in this context." This reference was the basis from which we have built the case for specialty coffee over the history of our organization.

On closer inspection it becomes clear that the unique chain of custody of coffee dramatically impacts the ways in which we can recognize, develop and promote the specialty product. Unlike wine, the beverage we often use as analogous to coffee, there are typically many actors involved in the control of production and delivery of the final beverage. In the wine model, a single individual or company might well be responsible for the planting, husbandry, harvesting, initial processing, further processing and packaging of the grapes and ultimately the resulting beverage. Moreover, the service of wine is dependent on nothing more complex than extracting a cork and pouring the product into a suitable glass. Coffee, on the other hand, most often arrives in the final consumers hand after a long series of baton hand offs from farmer to miller to intermediaries to roaster to brewer, and the final experience is dependent on no single actor in the chain dropping the baton. Thus, in order to truly look at what specialty coffee is, we must examine the roles that each plays and create a definition for specialty at each stage of the game.

The first key concept here and through the supply chain, is potential. Until the moment that the roasted coffee is brewed and transformed into a beverage, the concept of specialty coffee is locked up as a possibility, just a potentially wonderful gustatory experience. Starting at ground level, so to speak, we must limit specialty coffee to those that are drawn from the appropriate intersection of cultivar, microclimate, soil chemistry and husbandry. Plant a great variety of coffee at the wrong altitude or in the wrong soil and no specialty product can be produced or get the right combination of cultivar and chemistry, but the wrong climate and the potential for quality is destroyed. Ultimately, plant husbandry is essential to the preservation of potential. 

The next key concept is preservation. A ripe coffee cherry on a healthy plant of suitable ancestry planted in the right soil, blessed with appropriate climatic conditions and cared for properly must be picked at the peak of ripeness in order to preserve the potential for greatness that it holds. Coffee buyers often tell coffee growers that the single most impactful thing that they can do for coffee quality is to harvest only ripe cherry.

From the point of harvest a new round of pitfalls arises. The coffee cherry must undergo some initial processing at this point. For the majority of specialty coffee this begins with the delivery of the ripe cherry to a wet mill of some type, large or small. The time that elapses between harvest and the beginning of processing can have a dramatic impact on the final results for the coffee. Specialty coffee is dependent on a quick delivery from the tree to the mill for potential to be preserved. 

Whether the coffee is mechanically pulped and then fully washed or if it is processed in a demucilaging machine, the initial processing stage must be carefully managed so that the coffee is not harmed. After removal of the skin and pulp, the coffee must be dried, another critical activity. Dried too quickly or too slowly, dried unevenly, dried and then rewetted, not dried sufficiently - all of these can be disastrous to the final quality of the coffee. From here the coffee must be rested before undergoing the last stages of raw processing and preparation for shipping. At this time relative humidity, temperature and storage containers and conditions all become critical. Finally, the coffee must be hulled, separated by size and packaged for shipping. More critical points arise here, and small mistakes in screening or larger mistakes in the selection of packaging or the storage conditions prior to shipping can bleed the coffee of its potential.

The coffee changes hands again and begins the next stage of transformation, from green bean to roasted coffee. Here we must grapple with the third key concept, revelation. The roaster must accurately identify the potential for the coffee, properly develop the flavors and ultimately properly package the roasted product. An unskilled roaster, equipment that is not operating properly, poor packaging materials or practices can all lead to disaster. Provided that all goes well here and the coffee's potential remains intact, there are two remaining steps before the long chain of custody that is unique to coffee ends in the consumption of a specialty coffee beverage.

After roasting and before brewing, the coffee must be ground. Grinding is best done as close in time to brewing as possible, as many delicate aromatic compounds are fully released upon grinding and the dramatic increase in surface area necessary to effect brewing also opens the coffee to rapid oxidation and staling. The size of the ground particles is also important and driven by the method of brewing to be employed. Too fine a grind for the selected brewing process and the coffee may be destroyed by over extraction. Too coarse a grind and the coffee may never develop its full flavor potential in the cup.

Finally, after every step from coffee tree to the end consumer has been carefully orchestrated, the final process must take place - the coffee must be brewed. Whether the coffee is to be prepared as an espresso, as drip coffee or in a steeping method like a French press, the exacting application of standards of water quality, brewing temperature, coffee to water ratio and extraction must be applied to create a specialty coffee beverage.

So how do we define specialty coffee? Well, in the broadest sense we define it is as coffee that has met all the tests of survival encountered in the long journey from the coffee tree to the coffee cup. More specifically, we measure it against standards and with methods that allow us to identify coffee that has been properly cared for. For example, while it is not possible to inspect every bean from every farm at the point of harvest, or during processing or drying or shipping, it is possible to employ the standards developed by SCAA to make a meaningful judgment on the preparation of the coffee through aspect grading and to employ a standard cupping protocol to assess the quality of the cup and to discover any defects caused by poor practices that result in a loss of potential for the coffee. 

The SCAA defines specialty coffee in its green stage as coffee that is free of primary defects, has no quakers, is properly sized and dried, presents in the cup free of faults and taints and has distinctive attributes. In practical terms this means that the coffee must be able to pass aspect grading and cupping tests. The development and application of these standards, also furthered through the work of the Coffee Quality Institute, has helped to define specialty coffee in its raw form, but much work remains to be done in refining these standards and adding new ones to help preserve the potential that the coffee bean embodies.

From the green stage to the final beverage there are other standards either currently in place or in the process of being developed. For example, the SCAA Brewing Standard for preparation of drip coffee defines the proper ratios of water to coffee, the proper extraction, brewing temperature and holding temperature and time. There is also a standard for espresso preparation and one for steeping is under development. Roasting standards are in process, part of a monumental effort by the Roasters Guild to implement a certification for roasters that ensures they have been properly educated and trained in preserving and revealing the full potential of the specialty coffee bean. Similarly, the Barista Guild is well under way in developing a certification for the barista to ensure that the final preparer of the beverage is also an expert in the extraction of all of the coffee flavors inherent in a specialty coffee and delivering them in the cup.

In the final analysis specialty coffee will be defined by the quality of the product, whether green bean, roasted bean or prepared beverage and by the quality of life that coffee can deliver to all of those involved in its cultivation, preparation and degustation. A coffee that delivers satisfaction on all counts and adds value to the lives and livelihoods of all involved is truly a specialty coffee.

Article published by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) - June 2009

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Let's Take Time to Educate Our Customers


Specialty Selling: How Focusing on Sales Furthers the Industry

By Devin Chapman, Barista, Coava Coffee
Coffee is complex, incredible, and can provide sensory experiences unlike anything on the planet. The coffee industry is young and we have only scratched the surface of how lovely coffee can be. Furthermore, the economic impact the industry can have on communities on a global level is massive. Coffee brings the world together. Most excitingly, the coffee industry is teeming with potential because millions of people around the world have yet to truly experience how lovely it is. This big picture is the main idea of specialty coffee and, as a coffee professional, this aim gives me purpose in what I do every day.
However, the idea of specialty coffee is contingent on more people buying in, and the industry will continue to grow only as long as more people get involved.  Increased involvement means increased capital, which means additional access to discover, buy, steward and sell better coffees. Without an increase of new people involved, the industry cannot grow.  In order to promote and ensure the growth of the industry, coffee professionals need to continue to focus on selling the idea of specialty coffee.
The idea is sold by providing “observation points” into the coffee world, which are opportunities teach a consumer about coffee. Observation points, typically provided by baristas, can have differing forms. A discussion regarding taste notes, an informative introduction to processing methods, or a dialogue about the specialty aspects of coffee can be a good introduction for some consumers, while a fantastic cappuccino, a cup of well-extracted filter coffee or a bag of whole bean can introduce others. All of these examples of observation points are relevant to the idea of specialty coffee, all can be interesting and engaging, and—when done right—all can create and stoke fascination with coffee.  Furthermore, each example is contingent on a welcoming and hospitable environment, built on sales-focused principles and attitudes that begin with training.
Most barista training generally prioritizes the palpable mechanics and theory of making coffee—crucial for properly translating the sensory experience—but tends to downplay the role of baristas as salespeople, which is equally important to growing the industry.  The more involved baristas become with making coffee, the easier it can be to get lost in the details, focusing on new techniques, observing and remarking on old ones, and experimenting with equipment and technology, sometimes at the cost of becoming overly critical and forgetting that learning about coffee is a process.  In this way, focusing too heavily on perfecting the product can incubate elitism and snobbery, pushing people away and furthering the insulation of the industry.
Sales-focus training should teach baristas the basics of engaging and welcoming consumers, encompassing hospitality training with specifics on how to approach those who know little to nothing about coffee. Baristas and trainers alike should remember that the very wellbeing of their industry is dependent on their ability to win consumers, and their attitudes should reflect this as well.  It is vital to remember the big picture, and that every new consumer’s introduction to and acceptance of the specialty aspects of coffee ought to be celebrated, no matter how small. This focus combined with the ability to make great coffee gives baristas the ability to truly navigate the tension of perfection and invitation, pushing forward the idea of specialty coffee and working to see that people around the world continue to be exposed to how lovely coffee can be.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What is Pour-Over Coffee?

 4 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Pour Over Coffee


A year ago no one really cared about pour over coffee. Sure, a few baristas were talking about it, and maybe if you were really lucky you knew of an obscure espresso bar that actually served it to order. If you aren’t familiar with pour over coffee, here is a brief pictorial description of the process. (Click on any image below to see a larger image.)

Pour Over Coffee – The Process

Pour over coffee ceramic cone
Pour over coffee ceramic cone with coffee
Pour over coffee brewing method 1
Pour over coffee brewing method 2
Pour over coffee brewing method 3
Pour over coffee brewing method 4
Pour over coffee brewing method 5
Pour over coffee brewing method 6
Hario Pour Over Coffee White Ceramic Funnel
Click to Enlarge
But most coffee shops just didn’t care about it – probably because it wasn’t as feasible a way of selling mass quantities of coffee inexpensively.  Fair enough.
Now things are different, now more and more cafés are jumping on the bandwagon, setting up a full scale pour over coffee bar with a well-trained barista happily pouring water into little ceramic cones like the Hario white ceramic funnel all day long.  Most of the shops don’t even charge extra for it, because it’s becoming such a staple of the routine coffee drinker’s life.
And yet you don’t even need to leave your house to be drinking this fresh, perfectly extracted nirvana.
But why bother?  You ask.

1. Provides a cleaner cup of coffee

The pour over coffee method is arguably the ‘cleanest’ and ‘purest’ way to make and drink coffee.  There is no residue left in the cup, because the water is not dripped and is not fully immersed.  200 degree Fahrenheit water is poured into the cone, stirred briefly, and moments later the finished product has entirely drained into the mug.  The first time you try pourover coffee you may be taken aback, it is bold yet without even a hint of residue.

2. More efficient if you only want to drink one cup

So many times in the day I used to want a single cup of coffee whilst I sat at my house.  I didn’t want to leave to buy a cup, but I didn’t want to make a whole pot.  Whether I used a drip pot or a French press I would be left with either significant waste or a little more caffeine than I was looking for.  The pour over resolves this.  Just place the cone on top of your mug, pour a single serving and you’re done.

3. Better extraction than drip, without the mess of French press

It might seem like I’m harping on the same point as Number 1, but I’m not.  There is a distinct difference here.  The pour over coffee method allows for a very robust extraction because the water is preheated and because the ‘slurry’ is stirred before all the water soaks through – this creates a very bold, well extracted mug of coffee in your hands, without the long, tedious cleanup required with a press pot.

4. You can buy one for around $25.

Hario Pour Over Coffee White Ceramic Funnel
Click to Enlarge
Chemex Glass Pour Over Coffee Maker
Click to Enlarge
This might be the very best thing about the pour over apparatus.  Most of the ones you’ll find for sale, like the Hario v6, are a single ceramic drip cone that fits on top of a coffee mug.  These are my personal favorite, and the ones I recommend above the others.  You can order one for right around $25 – yet again setting it apart from drip coffee makers and most French presses.  It’s a simpler version of the one cup coffee maker without the electricity and the ongoing maintenance of cleaning the unit. You can also look into the Chemex glass pour over coffee maker, seen in the image above on the right, which run you just a little over $30 but makes up to 3 cups. These resemble an hourglass with the top cut off (without the sand). The filter with the coffee is placed in the top half and the hot water is poured in the top while the coffee nectar flows into the bottom. It is a great option if you are looking to make many cups at one time.  You, in essence, become the pour over coffee maker when you embark on this innovative and simple method for making coffee.  You just might be joining a whole new legion of pour over coffee makers.
Pour over coffee almost seems too simple and inexpensive to make such a great tasting cup of java.  There’s got to be something wrong with it, doesn’t there?
Nope.  Not only is it less expensive than other coffee brewing methods, it will save you time and the waste of excess coffee that you didn’t drink.  If you become a pour over coffee brewer, you just might never go back to traditional methods of brewing your favorite cup of java.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

From the FoM to the ToD

* In the tradition of our now defunct seasonal dessert beverage line, the FoM (Flavor of the Month), we are introducing the ToD or Trippings of the Day. This is a more dynamic and erratic version of the FoM where we get to serve spur-of-the-moment hot and cold beverages whenever we want to. We have a small blackboard at the upper-left side of our main menu where we will write our ToD. Today's ToD is the Amaretto Latte.
* We won't be able to come up with new ToDs everyday. One ToD can last for a week or until supplies last. We will make ToDs when we're inspired and/or bored or  when we acquire a new coffee gadget, or have watched something cool on YouTube. It depends. So watch out for it! We'll announce it here on our blog and on Facebook every time we come up with something.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Coffee from Luca & Tosh Coffee Lab

* Last week we introduced a couple of our new single origin (SO) specialty coffee offerings: Ethiopia and Guatemala. These beans were roasted by our friend, Jaycee Martinez, owner, barista, and roaster or Luca and Tosh Coffee Lab in Subic. We are very pleased that we can now share with you these excellent coffees. Back in LB Square, Jaycee conducted a cupping session featuring a variety of SOs during our Born to Brew series with barista, Vanessa Caceres and coffee expert, May Juan.  After the event I gave away free cups of coffee to our customers and explained to them the differences of the coffee from the different regions. 

* Our SOs are only available for pour-over* (see photo below) brewed coffee and not for espresso like our coffee blends (Owltonio, Sleepy Time, and Hardcore). We recommend that you shouldn't put sugar and/or creamer when you order our SOs. It is important that you appreciate first the subtle and unique aromas and flavors of the coffee itself.

*pour-over coffee
Here's an example of pour-over brewed coffee. See related article:

* Our barista, Elmer Umali and I cupped the first batch of beans last Tuesday. Upon opening the first bag of the beans from Ethiopia, we noticed that the dry fragrance had a baked bread-like smell with hints of floral and fruits. When brewed, the wet aroma gave off a kind of lemony-green tea taste. When one tastes a cup of Ethiopia, the initial reaction is that it tastes like tea. That's exactly what we tasted. There were lemony, zesty hints in a green tea-like flavor with a chocolaty aftertaste. It definitely is a new experience for the average coffee drinker or a veteran Cafe Antonio coffee drinker who is used to tasting full-bodied Owltonio Blend coffee. 

* As for the coffee from Guatemala, the dry fragrance reminded me of a spice that I actually can't identify to a somewhat black peppery smell. I don't know the explanation behind that, but it sure is interesting to know why. When we tasted it, hints of nuts and cocoa played around the palate. This coffee seems to be more balanced and tastes more like the classic coffee we know. 

* Anyway, the Guatemala is out of stock. And there are only a few scoops of Ethiopia left. I'll be going to the opening of Jaycee's new Brew Room in Makati this Saturday to sample other SO coffees. And maybe we can find something people in Elbi would like. Stay tuned, our coffee journey continues...

* If ever you and your family are in Subic, be sure to visit Luca and Tosh Coffee Lab near Pure Gold. They have a lot of interesting stuff there and you will definitely get caffeinated!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our Country's Future Rests in the Bean

Black Gold investment in the Philippines pushed!


Department of Agriculture (DA): Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan has urged the national government to develop the coffee industry in the Philippines, which he tagged as the Philippine "black gold."
"The country could be missing out on a great opportunity if it fails to pay attention its well-regarded coffee beans," said Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
Pangilinan, who hails from this province, said he allocated 5 million from the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) of his office for the purchase of a common service roaster that will enable farmers to increase the value of their beans, thereby increasing their own earning potential.
"There is resurgence in the popularity of coffee shops, and it is unthinkable that we are not making the most out of this opportunity by marketing the Philippines' coffee beans," Pangilinan said.
The lawmaker has also encouraged businesses to advocate coffee bean agriculture development in the Philippines.
"I enjoin our countrymen to support our proudly Pinoy-made coffee beans. Our beans are renowned for their unique taste," he added.
Pangilinan said the Philippines must be able to capitalize on the good quality of coffee beans harvested in the country to boost the local coffee industry and empower local farmers and all those whose lives are dependent on the said valuable commodity.
The senator is also advocating the "Sagip Saka" movement, an advocacy to achieve sustainable modern agriculture and food security by transforming agricultural communities to reach their full potential, improving farmers' and fishers' quality of life, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships.
"Sagip Saka is meant to give agriculture and fisheries the primacy that it deserves by focusing on improving the quality of life of our farmers and fisherfolk and, in doing so, building sustainable farming communities nationwide as a means to achieve food security. Only through strong public-private partnerships can we achieve this," he said.
The senator said opening access to market, rolling out infrastructure, and strengthening research and development in the field of agriculture would help millions of farmers in the country to increase their income, thereby improving the quality of their lives.
Coffee farm in the Philippines boost during the late 80's to 90's but faded away because of less support from the government. Black Gold Philippines' Coffee could be grown under the coco farms and banana plantations.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coffee Drinking in Different Cultures

Coffee Drinking Around the World

Coffee Drinking Customs from the Middle East to Europe, America to Asia

Over more than a thousand years of coffee history, different countries and societies around the world have developed a wide range of varied coffee drinking customs. Sampling coffee as different cultures enjoy it can amount to a fascinating world tour, completely fueled by the fragrant brew.
In the Middle East and the easternmost countries of Mediterranean Europe, where coffee-drinking first flourished almost a millennium ago, coffee is still enjoyed in time-honored fashion, prepared in a style that has almost universally come to be known as Turkish coffee (except in Greece, where it is proudly called Greek coffee). Roasted coffee beans are very finely pulverized and combined with sugar and water, and sometimes sweet spices like cardamom, cloves, or cinnamon, in a long-handled brass pot called an ibrik, slightly narrower at its top than its bottom to facilitate building up a good head of foam. The mixture is brought to a boil three separate times; then, the thick, frothy brew is poured into small cups for sipping. The emptied cups may be inverted onto their saucers to let the sludgy grounds form patterns inside. Once settled, the patterns may be "read" imaginatively to predict each drinker's fortune.
In Italy, intense small cups of espresso coffee are sipped all day long from coffee bars that throng the streets of big cities and small towns alike. French coffee drinking customs, by contrast, begin the day with big bowls of café au lait, combining strong "French roast" coffee with almost equal parts of hot milk, a drink ideal for dunking fresh-baked buttery croissants. Dutch and Scandinavians, too, favor milky morning coffee to accompany the pastries or breads with which they start their days.
Viennese coffeehouses are an integral part of that Austrian capital's culture, with different locations favored by particular groups of people. Near the Burgtheater, the historic Café Landtmann is beloved by actors, and also enjoys fame for having been a popular hangout of Sigmund Freud. Café Hawelka attracts intellectuals and artists. Café Sacher, near the opera house, enjoys fame not only for its elegant appointments but for being the birthplace of one of the most decadent accompaniments imaginable for coffee: the Sachertorte, which combines layers of chocolate sponge cake, chocolate butter cream, apricot jam, and bittersweet chocolate icing. Neighboring Germans, meanwhile, enjoy rich, mellow cups of coffee during morning or late-afternoon gatherings that they named after the beverage back in the 19th century, a name that has endured to describe any convivial, chat-filled get-together at which coffee is served: the Kaffeeklatsch.
The European love of coffee also spread to the New World and beyond. Brazilians wake up to café com leite, the local coffee brewed to double strength and then diluted with an equal volume of hot milk. They then go on to drink up to forty small cups a day per capita of strong, black cafezhino, ranking them among the world's most prodigious coffee drinkers. Mexicans café de la olla is brewed in an earthenware jug with the molasses-rich raw sugar called piloncillo and cinnamon sticks. American coffee habits range from the good, mellow drip brews traditional served in diners and perpetually replenished by smart-talking waitresses; to the slightly bitter, chicory-laced New Orleans café au lait, often enjoyed with the deep-fried doughnuts known as beignets; to the sophisticated, sometimes elaborate Italian-style espresso drinks popularized by Starbucks and other modern coffeehouses.
Coffee drinking customs have even been adopted wholeheartedly by lands that traditionally favor tea. You'll find the brew in southern India, which is also a coffee-growing country. And the passion for all things Western in contemporary Japan has led to widespread Japanese coffee drinking, both in its brewed form and in a wide variety of popular canned and bottled cold coffee beverages.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Sociology of Coffee

The Sociology of Coffee

Christine has done a really great job trying to spell out the sociological perspective for us. I am going to continue this by adding a few additional insights here that may give us a fruitful understanding of sociology using the example of coffee. One of the earliest obstacles we always face is getting students to think sociologically about very simply things.

Here I am going to offer three theoretical explanations and apply it towards the sociology of coffee:

  • What sort of social purpose and function does coffee have in our society?
Coffee is basic drink many of us require almost on a regular basis. It may provide us with some necessary caffeine boost or even help us fight off drowsiness before heading to work or to school. Thus, we can say that coffee has some sort of social function in our society. For starters, lets argue that the 'manifest function' of coffee is connected to the daily consumption to fuel our bodies. However, another distinct function of coffee may also be somewhat tied to western culture. So we cannot just claim that Coffee is just a drink. Coffee is a reflection of our society and its connection to other hidden social features.Interestingly, one could say the reason why you drink coffee is because its available for you as soon as you enter grocery store or a Star-bucks. Nowadays, one of the current primary functions of coffee is commercial.. Coffee carries a major economic function for many companies who market and sell it to you. Moreover, the function of coffee from someone in Latin America or producer nation may carry a very different point of view. Imagine the life of a coffee farmer making your daily living on a product sold to other parts of the world. A coffee farmer may actually never have enough time to drink coffee because of the work . And if you wanted to drink some coffee you would need to have a coffee machine, coffee beans, and or have the free time too drink it . This is a Functionalist Perspective

  • What sort of ramifications does unfair-traded coffee mean for poor Colombian coffee-farmers?
Coffee also carries negative consequences for others. In Columbia it is very common for union activists to just disappear and for workers to be mistreated. Human rights organizations frequently document that many workers are not being fairly compensated for the work that they do and often work in conditions that are close to slave labor.It is very common to see any union organizing or strikes face brutal repression or even death.Nearly all coffee is imported from South America and Latin American countries where absolute poverty is still widespread. Historically, there were many reasons why European countries wanted to colonize part of Latin America mostly because of its huge abundance of natural resources, including coffee. The primary goal for cultivating and producing coffee is mostly for profit .While in the United States and Canada, Star-bucks has been under a constant market pressure to keep coffee prices and wages extremely low. Consumers are no longer drinking s much coffee as they used to. Several months ago Star-bucks said it was closing down a number of stores because of declining sales. Several thousand Starbucks workers will be unemployed .This is a Marxist perspective.
  • How do we learn to consume and taste coffee with others?
Holding a coffee cup is easy but also a form of social communication with other crazy individuals. Last time I checked there are a variety of coffee cups and different ways in which people learn to drink coffee. If you are going to go out to drink coffee you are usually going for the purpose of social interaction. This means you are really drinking coffee because it offers a chance of social communiction with others. Coffee and cake makes a wonderful romantic date.Coffee also carries distinction and shapes our taste. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu took early notice that symbolic forms of powers interplay together with someone who carries a certain class position in our society.Germans like to drink dark coffee while Italians like to see whip cream swim in theirs. I hear in Eastern European countries like Poland it is very normal to dip your cake and drop cakecrumbs in your coffee . Some Americans might have a difficult time seeing coffee mixed with their cake.So it is fair to say that not all coffee is consumed the same way . There is also high priced and high label coffee .Some coffee can cost you over $4.00 for a cup .So some coffee is way too expensive for some people so they go for the cheap brands that have some bad beans in them. This is a Symbolic Interactionist perspective.

Reasons Behind the Bitterness of Coffee


Coffee Chemistry: Cause of Bitter Coffee
Coffee bitterness is sometimes a negative, but omnipresent, aspect of the beverage.  At low levels, bitterness helps tame coffee acidity and adds another favorable dimension to the brew.  However, at high levels, a bitter coffee compound can overpower the other components present in coffee producing an undesirable effect.  Bitter coffee results from the interaction of certain compounds with the circumvallate papillae on the back of the tongue.  Astringency, on the other hand is caused by compounds that can precipitate salivary proteins on the tongue. Consumers will often mistakenly attribute astringency and any other potent characteristic of the coffee to the bitterness.   Therefore, this article will discuss those compounds that are responsible for contributing to the bitterness of the coffee and those compounds that cause astringency in the coffee.
Why Does Coffee Taste Bitter?
Various coffee scientists have made the following observations concerning bitter coffee, which were presented in a review article by McCamey et al.:
  • The perceived bitter taste in the mouth from coffee is correlated to the extent of extraction.  The extent of extraction is dependent upon the roast, the mineral content of the water, water temperature, time, grind size, and brewing procedure. 
  • Bitterness is reduced in coffee brewed with either soft or hard water relative to distilled water (Voilley et al., 251).
  • Bitterness is correlated with the total dissolved solids of a coffee.
  • Perceived coffee bitterness is lower when coffee is brewed hot than when cooler water is used. This is hypothesized to be due to the heightened aromatics released in hot coffee, which counteract the bitterness (Voilley et al., Eval., 287).
  • Coffee bitterness is decreased by the addition of sucrose, sodium chloride, or citric acid. Hydrocolloids, in general, were found to decrease the perception of coffee bitterness (Pangborn, 161).
  • Robusta coffee contains higher levels of both caffeine and chlorogenic acids, which are partly responsible for bitterness and astringency in coffee.
  • Several investigators have found that the processing of coffee (wet or dry processing) does not affect the perceived bitterness of coffee even though the overall flavor profile is significantly different (Clarke and Macrae; and Clifford and Wilson).
  • Caffeine has a distinct bitter taste and has a test threshold of only 75-155 mg/L (60-200 mg/L found by Clarke). However, Voilley considers caffeine to only account for around 10% of the perceived bitterness in coffee.
  • Hardwick found that the bitterness of caffeine is weakened when polyphenols are introduced.
  • Maier reported that the sourness of coffee was diminished by increased bitterness.
  • Astringent and metallic tastes in coffee have been attributed to dicaffeoylquinic acids, but not the monocaffeoylquinic acids (Ohiokpehai et al., 177).
  • Trigonelline is perceived as bitter at concentrations of 0.25%, whereas chlorogenic acids necessitate a concentration of 0.4% at pH of 5 to be perceived as bitter (Ordynsky, 206). Trigonelline degradation is proportional to roast degree. Its byproducts include pyridines, which are said to contribute a roasty aroma to the coffee.
  • Quinic acid--a degradation product of chlorogenic acids--is present at twenty times its threshold value and is partly responsible for the perceived bitterness in coffee (McCamey, 176).
  • Furfuryl alcohol is thought to contribute a burnt and bitter taste to coffee (Shibamoto et al., 311).
Making Coffee Less Bitter
Based upon the previous analyses, a number of steps could be introduced for making coffee less bitter:
  1. Medium roasted coffee has less soluble solids, a higher acid content, and a potent aroma when compared to darkly roasted coffee.  All of these factors are known to reduce perceived bitterness. 
  2. Decaffeination slightly reduces the perceived coffee bitterness.
  3. Allowing the coffee to soak in fresh water for approximately twenty-four hours after the fermentation process--as is done in Kenya--is said to reduce coffee bitterness.
  4. Brewing via a drip system reduces coffee bitterness relative to French press or other soaking methods, but this is likely due to the decrease in soluble solids, which is positively correlated with bitterness.
  5. A coarser grind reduces coffee bitterness. However, the proper grind size should always be used to ensure proper extraction.
Table 1. Compounds contributing to biterness found in coffee. Table adapted from Table10.1 in McCamey, 173. Click on compound name for more details.
Concentration in Roasted Coffee (mg/L)
Taste Threshold (mg/mL)
2-Methyl Furan0.05
Furfuryl Alcohol30019, 24, 40
Chlorogenic Acid20-10020,26,27
Caffeic Acid10-90
Citric Acid1,800-8,70096-590
Malic Acid1,900-3,900107-350
Lactic Acid0-3,200144-400
Pyruvic Acid400-1,700
Acetic Acid900-4,00022-70
Phenyl pyridine
Alicyclic Ketones
Aromatic Ketones

Hardwick, W. A. Interactive Flavor Influence of Some Materials in Different Food and Beverages. In "Flavor: Its Chemical, Behavioral, and Commercial Aspects." Westview Press. Boulder: 1977.
McCamey, D. A.; Thorpe, T. M.; and McCarthy, J. P. Coffee Bitterness. In "Developments in Food Science." Vol 25. 169-182. 1990.
Ohiokpehai, O.; Brumen, G.; and Clifford, M. N. 10th ASIC Colloq. Salvador, 1982.
Ordynsky, G. Z. fur Ernahrungswissenscaft, 5: 3-4, 1965.
Pangborn, R. M. Lebensm.-Wiss. U. Techno. 15, 1982.
Shibamoto, T.; Harada, K.; Mihara, S.; Mishimura, O.; Yamaguchi, K.; Aitoku, A.; and Fukada, T. Application of HPLC for Evaluation of Coffee Flavor Quality. In "The Quality of Foods and Beverages." Vol 2. Academic P. New York: 1981.
Voilley, A.; Sauvageot, F.; and Durand, D. 8th ASIC Colloq. Abidjan, 1979.
Voilley, A.; Sauvageot, F.; and Pierret, P. Eval. 9th ASIC Colloq. London, 1980.

Related Resources

Friday, June 1, 2012

Awesome Gift Ideas for the Caffeine Junkie

Owltonio Blend Coffee Foil Pack (250 grams) in Reusable Flavor Lock Case

Owltonio Blend Coffee Foil Pack (250 grams)

Owlonio Blend Coffee Foil Pack (250 grams) in Reusable Flavor Lock Case with Php 150 Gift Certificate

Gift Price Guide:
Owltonio Blend Coffee Foil Pack (250 grams) - Php 250
Owltonio Blend Coffee Foil Pack (250 grams) in Reusable Flavor Lock Case - Php 350
Owlonio Blend Coffee Foil Pack (250 grams) in Reusable Flavor Lock Case with Php 150 Gift Certificate (Php 500)

Other Available Coffee Blends:
Hardcore Blend - Kapeng Barako
Sleepy Time Blend - 100% Philippine Arabica Coffee

For you orders please contact: