(approx. 15 mins with powerpoint) November 03, 2009
Coffee from Bean to Cup
There are many people who sleep heavily through out the night and wake up groggy. Then there are other sets of people who sleep very badly, say he had a cat puked all over the house, stayed up late for no reason. Both these kinds need a coffee jolt in the morning just to get away from the feel of 'I need more sleep'.
These days we’re never far from a coffee shop. There’s one on almost every street corner. Well at least in Taipei city where I grew up.
I wonder how many of us would realize while drinking coffee that after oil it is the largest traded commodity, which means that coffee is the second-most traded product in the world. In this presentation, I’d like to talk about coffee manufacturing: From bean to cup. Understanding from cherry, bean, roasting, all the way to the cup.
But before we go any further, I’d like to share a little story about coffee that you may find it interesting. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, there was a goat herder. Mr goat herder in Eastern Africa around 300 AD, well he must have not been a good goatherd because some of his goats gone astray and ate some red berries from a bush. The goatherd thought it wasn’t a big deal, they were just eating some fruits eh? But guess what? Have you seen the movie Alvin and the chipmunks? 鼠來寶 The bad guy gives the three chipmunks some coffee to drink right? And the chipmunks are jumping and dancing and screaming non stop! So pretty much like that, the goats, well maybe not that dramatic, but the goats were very excited and hyper, as if they were on drugs, until late in the evening. So the goatherd was like ‘what is happening? Hmm, this is very strange. Wait, is that the bush that makes my goats so lively? I’d better try it myself!’ The goatherd tried the red berries himself and experienced the same effect. He then mentioned this to the monks in the nearby monastery, who from then on took coffee to stay awake during the nightly prayer gathering. The legend also records that these monks discovered by chance that the beans could be roasted and that a beverage prepared from the roasted beans not only produced the same effect, but also tasted far better. The coffee beans and the beverage made from them, were from then on regarded as a luxurious stimulant.
The legend was long long time ago, but we didn’t start planting coffee until 15 century. Now it is widely spread all over the world, cultivated in over 70 countries across the globe. As you can see, the geography of the coffee plant is in a tropical 25 degree latitude belt on both sides of the equator. About two-thirds of coffee is produced in the Latin America, others in Africa, Arabia, Java as well as Sumatra. Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico etc are the major areas where coffee is cultivated. Among all, Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer.
Now let’s get started with the coffee manufacturing. The first stage is growing and harvesting. The coffee 'tree' is in fact a type of tropical evergreen shrub. In this stage, the coffee tree produce small berries called coffee cherries. About five years after the tree is planted, and nine months after the flowers appear, the coffee cherries are ripe and can be harvested. Harvesting is mainly carried out by hand.
The second stage is the processing stage. This is when the red coffee cherries are changed into green coffee beans. During this stage, the outer fruit is removed from the coffee cherries, so only the coffee seeds, or beans, are left. The beans are then dried, sorted, and put into cloth sacks for shipping.
The next stage is the roasting stage. This is the beautiful part that coffee’s characteristic flavor and aroma develop during this roasting process. The flavor is locked within the green coffee bean until it is roasted. Heating green coffee beans sets a series of complex chemical reactions in motion that release the flavor compounds hidden within each bean. During this stage, the beans are placed in a roasting machine and heated to around 240 degrees Celsius. The length of roasting time determines the beans’ color and richness.
The final stage of coffee manufacturing is the grinding and brewing stage. This is when the whole beans are crushed into a powder and mixed with hot water to make a cup of coffee. There are different methods of grinding and brewing, depending on how strong you want the coffee to taste.
That completes the coffee-manufacturing process: growing and harvesting the coffee cherries, processing the fruit, roasting the beans, and finally, grinding and brewing the coffee.
I know very little about Hualien, not sure how many locals actually enjoy drinking coffee. I personally enjoy the flavor of it very much but never stopped and thought where it’s coming from, or how is it done? So I figured it would be nice to do a little research about it and found it quite interesting. And felt grateful realized that it takes a lot of efforts and time just to have a cup of coffee. So if you keep that in mind, you wouldn’t think 60 NT is that expensive for a cup of coffee. The last thing I want to say is that you may dislike coffee, I don’t expect everyone to like coffee, and go for other stuff. I just hope my presentation can motive you in a way to find out more about the little things in your life. Because that is the spice of life. Thank you.
(approx. 15 mins)