What is “Specialty Coffee”
According to Specialty Coffee Association of America :
Sometimes called “gourmet" or “premium" coffee, specialty coffees are made from exceptional beans grown only in ideal coffee-producing climates. They tend to feature distinctive flavors, which are shaped by the unique characteristics of the soil that produces them.
Moreover, a coffee only truly qualifies as specialty coffee if it is able to score at least 85 marks on an international cupping rating scale.
What is “Coffee Belt” or “Coffee Zone”
Coffee typically grows in the region found between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Therefore this region is also known as “Coffee Zone”. Over sixty countries produce coffee in the world, and majority of them are found in the region demarcated by the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn (North and South coordinates: 23° 27′N). The region consists of the Tropics and Subtropics, with the equator passing through its middle. This coffee cultivation zone is called the “Coffee Belt” or “Coffee Zone”.
What is “Cupping”?
Cupping is a systematic method of assessing the characteristics defining the aroma and taste of coffee samples. It is applied in more commonly found classification language and based on traditional cupping standards, so as to facilitate the evaluation of coffee, recording of information, and understanding of results, such as the source, region, estate, aroma, flavor, acidity, and aftertaste. It includes the fermentation methods and all the steps required to achieve the final sensory experience; all of these can be known from the smells and tastes noted by the Cupper.
How do you test the freshness of coffee beans?
Espresso is the most direct and also most strict method of testing through brewing and drinking. If the coffee beans are not fresh, a rich and thick Crema would not form. Alternatively, using the pourover method, you can observe if the ground coffee expands upon adding water (If it is fresh, it would expand, if not, it would sink).
Suitable Temperature for Brewing Coffee
Temperature is one of the main key factors affecting the taste of brewed coffee. To brew a cup of delicious coffee, the temperature should be approximately 80-85 degrees Celsius. This not only releases the fragrant and mellow taste of coffee, it will also ensure that the coffee is not scaldingly hot, and thus is the most suitable temperature.
How do you store coffee beans?
For coffee beans that have are still in sealed packaging, they should be placed in a dry, shaded and cooling area. There is no need to place it inside the fridge as the coffee may absorb the different smells in the air when the packaging is opened due to a rise in temperature.
Upon opening, the coffee beans should be placed in an opaque and airtight container, preferably vacuum-sealed. They should also be placed in a dry, shaded and cooling area.
Do not use plastic or metal containers as the coffee beans or ground coffee may absorb the smell of the plastic or metal.
If the container is not opaque, you ought to place it in a storage cupboard that does not allow light to enter. Avoid direct sunlight as it would also cause the beans to go bad.
Ground coffee can only be kept for a few days before there is a change in its taste, hence, all the more it requires to be stored in an opaque and airtight container. One coffee bean can be ground into 500 particles. This means that the aroma of ground coffee will dissipate more quickly than the original coffee beans, at a rate that is 500 times faster.
How do you judge the acidity of coffee beans?
The acidity of coffee is determined by its degree of roast. Medium roast (weak acidity), Medium-light roast (mild acidity), Light roast (stronger acidity). Medium-dark roast and Dark roast (no acidity).
The above-mentioned acidity arises from the sourness of fruits, and is vibrant in that it can bring out the refreshing sweetness and floral taste of coffee. It should be distinguished from the kind of "dead sourness” arising from sewage water, vinegar and etc, which makes people uncomfortable.