History and geography of the coffee.
At the beginning of 500 a.D. the Ethiopian shepherd Kaldi discovered the invigorating virtues of coffee cherries. He tries to toast and grind them. Across the merchants street in 1500 a.D. the coffee reaches Damascus, Cairo and Istanbul. In the middle of 1600 a.D. the first coffee shops was opened also in Europe. In 1700 a.D. coffee has spread throughout Europe and its plant is exported to the colonies. In 1737 a.D. Linnaeus classifies the plant as a Coffea. Since then it grows throughout the equatorial belt characterizing the economy of those countries.
The coffee plant.
From a botanical point of view, the coffee plant is an evergreen shrub, belonging to the Rubiaceae family and to the gender of Coffea. It requires a tropical equatorial climate, it means it should be mild from 30 ° to 15 ° C, with constant rain. The frost is its greatest enemy. Although there are several kinds of coffee, only two cultivated Coffea are relevant to the tasting: Arabica and Canephora (Robusta).
In the most ancient and traditional system of cultivation of coffee it’s used in part of Central America and India: Coffea plants grow together with others, higher, that protect them by the rays of the sun. In Brazil instead it’s used an intensive method: large plantations with only coffee plants. There it’s needed an artificial irrigation and mechanized harvesting. This means high investments, high productivity and a greater environmental impact.
To reap the fruits of coffee which reach maturation when they are marked by a deep red color, there are three systems: a stripping and manual harvest that can be fast and cheap. Fruits are pulled up by the branch in an undifferentiated way, mature or unripe, to be separated later. Mechanical harvesting with special harvesting machines. With this method plants are shaken mechanically. It’s mainly used on flat grounds. Harvesting in picking: it’s a selective and expensive process in which the ripe cherries are harvested by hand one by one only when they are ripe in successive stages.
The seeds can be extracted in two different ways: by washing or by drying them: the fruits are mechanically pulped and then put into water basins. In this way the residues of pulp ferments and is so easy to take them off. The seeds are then dried and shelled removing the membrane that surrounds them.
Wet processing method:
the fruits are mechanically pulped and then put into water basins. In this way the residues of pulp ferments and is so easy to take them off. The seeds are then dried and shelled removing the membrane that surrounds them.
Method of dry machining:
the fruits are dried in the sun in thin layers for several days. Only when the peel, pulp and seeds are completely dry the shelling’s machines free the grains.
The seeds harvested from both processes are green coffee beans, which are then classified according to size and shape.