I love coffee, but what should I do about it?
What should I expect of my tree?
- coffee is grown on a shrub/small tree, which ranges from 4.6 to 6 m (15 to 20 ft)
- the tree naturally grows to 10 m (30ft), but is kept lopped at the above height
- the tree has deep green, leathery/waxy leaves approximately 12 by 5 cm (5 by 2 in)
- the tree flowers in small white fragrant flowers, which last only a few days, but the tree continues to bloom for 8 months of the year
- coffee is the seed of the fruit of the tree
- as the fruit develops, it changes in colour from light green to red to deep crimson
- the mature fruit looks like a cherry in size and colour
- the fruit grows in clusters attached to the limb of the tree by short stems
- the fruit usually contains two seeds (or beans) surrounded by a sweet pulp
- the beans have flat sides which face each other in the fruit
Where should I grow my coffee?
- coffee grows well on the islands of Java and Sumatra and in Arabia, India, Africa, the West Indies, and South and Central America
- the Americas produce approximately two-thirds of the world's coffee supply
- coffee grows best in rich, moist soil with good drainage (especially sandy or gravelly soils)
- dry conditions during ripening produce berries with the best flavour
- the growing temperatures for coffee range from 13° to 26° C (55° to 80° F)
- altitudes of coffee plantations range from sea level to 1800 m (about 6000 ft)
When should my tree produce?
- the coffee tree starts producing from its third year
- the coffee tree produces its first full crop when it is about five years old (producing for up to 15 or 20 years)
- some trees yield 0.9 to 1.3 kg (2 to 3 lb) of quality beans annually, but 0.45 kg (1 lb) is a normal annual yield
- in some areas, the fruit is picked only once annually, whilst in other regions, it may be picked three times
How do I get that coffee?
- the fruit is gathered either by picking or shaking the tree
- picked beans are generally softened in water, depulped mechanically, fermented in large tanks, washed and then dried in the open or in heated, rotating cylinders
- shaken beans are generally only dried and the outer covering removed
How do I get that favourite coffee taste?
- a number of varieties of green coffee are usually blended and roasted together to produce differing tastes, aromas, and flavours
- the darker the roast, the stronger the flavour
- ground coffee loses its flavour within about a week (unless it is packaged)
- instant coffee is made by mixing coarsely ground and roasted coffee with hot water with the water later being evaporated
- in freeze-dried coffee, the coffee extract is frozen and the water removed
- coffee is decaffinated by treating the green beans with chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents (yuck)
How old is my coffee?
- coffee may have been grown initially in Arabia near the Red Sea about AD 675
- coffee cultivation was rare until the 15th and 16th centuries, when extensive planting of the tree occurred in Arabia
- the consumption of coffee increased in Europe during the 17th century
Why is coffee so darn cheap?
- a number of Latin American countries made arrangements before World War II (1939-1945) to allocate export quotas so that each country would be assured a certain share of the United States coffee market
- the first coffee quota agreement was arranged in 1940
- export quotas on a worldwide basis were adopted in 1962, when an International Coffee Agreement was negotiated by the United Nations
- during the five-year period when this agreement was in effect, 41 exporting countries and 25 importing countries agreed to its terms
- the agreement was renegotiated in 1968, 1976, and 1983
- participating nations failed to sign a new pact in 1989 and world coffee prices plunged!
Why do I like coffee sooo much?
- coffee contains 0.8 to 1.7% caffeine
- this is what caffeine looks like when you look at a coffee bean with a magnifying glass:
Have you had enough coffee?
If you haven't had enough, you may want to check out:
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Frequently asked questions about coffee and caffeine - there ain't much more to ask frequently
Mr Cappuccino - at last, a coffee shop that also sells pizza ovens and wine kegs!
You're the person to lust after caffeine since 5 July 1996!
This page has been recognised as worthy of the bottom 95% club!
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