is native to the Kaffa region of Ethiopia. Arabs began cultivating it
in the sixth century. The first coffee was named Mocca for the Red Sea
port, Al Mukkah, where coffee was first traded. Plants were smuggled
from there by Dutch traders who founded the coffee plantations of Java.
Africa and South America lead the world today in coffee production.
the most part, only two species of coffee, C.arabica and C.robusta,
are used commercially (these species account for approximately ninety
percent of the species of coffee used). Arabica (grown mainly in Central
and South America) are considered the highest quality beans, and are
usually more expensive. They grow best in high altitudes and produce
a very flavorful, aromatic coffee. Robusta beans (from Africa and Asia)
can withstand more severe temperatures and conditions. Robusta ,considered
to be less flavorful and aromatic, are used in instant and less expensive
harvesting is a labor intensive process. Coffee beans are actually the
seed of a fruit - the coffee cherry. Coffee cherries ripen at different
times, consequently, all picking must be done by hand.
harvesting the coffee cherries, the seeds (beans) are separated from
the fruit. Depending on the region, the beans are separated using one
of two methods. The wet method uses a machine to strip away the skin
and pulp. The beans are then fermented in water. Enzymatic reactions
that occur in the tank loosen whatever pulp is still left; this is then
washed away. The dry method involves leaving the ripened fruit on the
tree or spread in the sun for several weeks to dry. After drying, a
hulling machine removes the skin and pulp. Further processing removes
the silverskin, a thin covering remaining on the bean. The green beans
are then sorted, packed and shipped to coffee roasters. Coffee beans
are kosher, and at this point, water is the only substance the beans
have come into contact with until this point, therefore, there are no
issues with the beans.
is the key step in the manufacture of coffee. Timing is everything in
this delicate operation. If the roast is too short insufficient amounts
of oils influencing flavor and aroma will be released. If allowed to
go too long the beans will burn. This is also the explanation of the
different roast terms you might have seen. The terms City roast or French
roast refer to the color of the roasted beans. The longer the roast
the darker the bean. The shorter the roast the lighter the color. Obviously,
this will also affect the taste of the final product.
procedure starts by placing the green coffee beans in a hopper. The
hopper pours the beans into the roaster. The roaster, which has been
characterized as a cross between a clothes dryer and a popcorn popper,
consists of a large rotating drum inside a heating chamber. The temperature
of the pre-heated roaster is around 400 F. About five minutes into the
roast the beans will begin to lose moisture and change color. Five minutes
later the beans will have doubled in size and almost reached their optimum
color. At this point they are fed into a large revolving tray called
a cooling car in which they will darken further.
cooling, the beans are placed in a holding bin. From here they will
either ride a bucket elevator to the grinder and packaging line or be
placed into the flavor mixer. The roasters' primary concern is achieving
optimum flavor and aroma. For this reason they are punctilious in making
sure nothing is added to the beans during roasting. Again, kashrut
not a concern at this point.
instant coffee is processed one of two ways.
- This entails forcing an atomized spray of very strong coffee
extract through a jet of hot air. The liquid evaporates leaving behind
dried coffee. An interesting but little known fact is that coffee loses
much of its aroma due to spray drying. As aroma is all important to
the resulting flavor of the coffee, most manufacturers will spray a
coffee oil on the powder to add back some of the lost aroma. This is
known as aromatizing. In another attempt to make the instant coffee
as much like real ground coffee as possible, the powder is put through
a heating process which causes it to clump. It is then ground to resemble
real ground coffee. This is called agglomeration.
- Freeze dried coffee is produced by freezing liquid coffee
and then placing the product under a vacuum enabling the frozen liquid
to vaporize without passing through the liquid phase. This is known
as sublimation. Since coffee produced through these methods is manufactured
at dedicated plants, they present no kashrut
to part II: Coffee