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Coffee For Less Blog

A Beginner's Guide to Coffee

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Whether it’s served hot or over ice, with cream and sugar or mixed with gourmet flavors and topped with whipped cream, coffee is the beverage that wakes us up in the morning, keeps us going during the day, and provides added stimulation to stay awake for those late night study sessions or long drives. Americans consume nearly 1/3rd of the coffee produced in the world, but few know where it comes from, how it’s made, or what makes coffee k-cups taste so darn good!

The Beginning
Coffee actually starts as an evergreen plant which grows best in tropical regions between 3600 feet and 8000 feet above sea level. The plant produces white flowers and red berries, also known as cherries due to their red coloring. Inside the cherries is the coveted bean. Each cherry holds two beans which must be hand-picked. A mature plant can produce up to 1 ½ pounds of coffee beans per year, and it takes approximately 6 to 8 years for a plant to yield its first crop. The main producers of coffee in the world include Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia and Indonesia. The only place in the United States where coffee is grown is Hawaii, which produces Kona coffee, grown in the volcanic soil of Mauna Loa. Although there are over 60 varieties of coffee that grow in the world, the only two species that are commercially cultivated are the Robusta and the Arabica. Often we see flavors like this in coffee k-cups and other favorite flavors.

So how does it get from the growing field into your coffee k-cups? After the beans are washed and processed comes the most important step to great tasting coffee. Roasting, as the name suggests, is simply the cooking of the bean. The longer a bean is cooked, the darker the roast will be. Dark roasting produces a bolder, sugary flavor, while a lighter roast will have a stronger flavor since the beans retain aromatic oils and acids that are destroyed by longer roasting times.

Roasting time dictates the flavor of the bean from mild all the way to a bitter, almost burnt taste. The beans are then either ground and packaged, or packed “whole bean” for grinding at your favorite store or at home. Depending on the strength of the coffee k-cups you like, you can choose from light, medium or dark roast. You may want to experiment with the different roasting levels to choose your favorite. Now sit back, relax and enjoy. You’ve earned it!