Arabica is from the “coffea arabica” tree or shrub and needs extensive nurturing to grow; taking years before the first harvest. By comparison, Robusta plants, “coffea laurentii,” are hardy, large plants that grow at lower elevations and produce a softer bean with less flavor.
Our Arabica coffees are grown on small farms at high altitudes for a distinctive flavor in each single origin seed (type of coffee from a region or country). High-grown coffees take longer to mature, with a resulting bean that is large, dense, and more flavorful. Shade trees, such as banana, rubber, and orange, growing around the coffee fields also add subtle flavor to the coffee.
Arabica coffees are of such high quality they require careful handpicking every day during the season. Only the red cherries are picked each time. Robusta coffees are grown on the flatter land in rows and machine picked, stripping the trees of every bean – green, ripe red, overripe, rotten, etc. One bad bean used in a pot of coffee affects the taste of the whole pot.
Start with good-quality coffee in whole bean form, if possible. Store the coffee in an airtight container (glass is best) in a cool, dry place. Grind only enough for the pot you are making, and keep your brewing equipment clean.
Since 98% of a cup of coffee is water, the quality of water used alters the taste. Use spring or filtered water, not distilled water which lacks the minerals necessary to bind to the flavor components of the coffee bean.
The aeration of freshly drawn cold water gives it a refreshing taste. The optimum temperature to brew coffee is 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
The most commonly used brewing method is the drip maker requiring a medium grind. This grind, similar to table sugar, allows the flavor components of the bean to be picked up by the constant stream of water passing over the beans. A thumbprint in a handful of drip-ground coffee will leave an impression that crumbles slightly.
Another excellent method of brewing coffee is the French press or plunger method. The coarse ground coffee is placed in the bottom of a glass cylinder and very hot water is added. After steeping for three to five minutes, a plunger with a filter pushes the grind to the bottom and allows the hot coffee to separate, resulting in a smooth pot of delicious coffee.
Gaining in popularity is the toddy method, a cold water brewing process. Coarse ground coffee is put into the brewing container and filled with fresh, cold water. After steeping overnight, the coffee drains through a filter, resulting in a smooth coffee concentrate. This method is great for flavored coffees and makes the best iced lattes.
Using the correct ratio of coffee to water is essential for a good cup. Start with one ounce of freshly ground dry coffee for every 24 ounces of water. If you prefer your coffee lighter, adding hot water to the completed brew will give you a better cup than using less coffee for the batch.
Around 13% of coffee in the world is roasted with the hot air method. The Sivetz hot air roaster allows each bean to develop its naturally distinctive flavor without the smoke and tar contamination that occurs in many roasters. You will gain confidence as you try new coffees and note the subtle differences, especially when you keep returning for more!
Few people realize that the manner of roasting has a great deal of influence on the taste of the final roasted beans. For example, due to their high operating temperatures (over 800 degrees F), rotary steel cylinder roasters which are traditional in the trade cause scorching of the beans and oil to release. This oil can coat all the beans and smoke from burning chaff fumigates the beans, giving them a harsh, biting, and (in dark roast) a burnt taste which is “dirty.”
The use of filter paper helps remove some of this biting taste. However it is far better not to scorch or burn the beans. In order to avoid this scorching and non-uniform roasting of coffee beans, in 1975, Mike Sivetz developed a fluid bed “once-thru-air” coffee bean roasting machine that produces a clean, “tar-free”, non-biting, smooth tasting beverage.
Further, the Sivetz fluid bed roaster with its thermal bean sensor is the only roaster that can measure true bean temperature because the probe is in a stationary box containing the fluid bed of beans. This accuracy cannot be directly achieved by rotary cylinder machines due to the pure mechanical difficulty of probing a moving mass. You are truly receiving the best possible product available in the market today.*
*Used with permission, via Oregon Coffee Roasters, excerpts from “Coffee Quality” by Michael Sivetz, 1987., pp 35 & 36, Sivetz Coffee Inc., 349 SW 4th Street, Corvallis, OR 97331.