SECRETS of COFFEE - Part 2. BOTANY - (for Coffee Lovers) - Become An Expert in 4 hours! | COFFEE EXPERT - Sergio Reminny | Skillshare

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SECRETS of COFFEE - Part 2. BOTANY - (for Coffee Lovers) - Become An Expert in 4 hours!

teacher avatar COFFEE EXPERT - Sergio Reminny, 25 years of Love for Coffee ❤️

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

42 Lessons (4h 3m)
    • 1. INTRODUCTION ▪ About this Course

    • 2. Bean STRUCTURE ▪ Pergamino

    • 3. PLANTING Coffee ▪ Who is Soldier

    • 4. Global WARMING for Coffee

    • 5. Coffee TREE: 100 Years of Life

    • 6. Coffee GENETICS ▪ Chromosomes

    • 7. TRADE Groups ▪ Naturals and Milds

    • 8. Botanical CRITERIA for Coffee

    • 9. Coffee SPECIES: Parents of Arabica

    • 10. TYPICA ▪ Variety that Started It All

    • 11. BOURBON ▪ French Kings & Coffee

    • 12. Growing REGIONS ▪ "Coffee Belt"

    • 13. Why ALTITUDE is on Coffee Packs

    • 14. SHADE Grown vs. SUN Grown

    • 15. ARABICA vs. ROBUSTA ▪ Blends

    • 16. Exotic LIBERICA ▪ "White" Coffee

    • 17. HYBRIDS: Tim-Tim and Arabusta

    • 18. HYBRIDS: What are F1 and Graft

    • 19. POLYSPERMA ▪ Most Unique Coffee

    • 20. HARVESTING ▪ Picking vs. Stripping

    • 21. Why DRYING is So Important

    • 22. PROCESSING Methods ▪ Dry vs Wet

    • 23. FERMENTATION: Super-Process

    • 24. HONEY Coffee ▪ Yellow, Red, Black

    • 25. MONSOON Coffee ▪ What is Aging

    • 26. CAFFEINE ▪ What is "Strong" coffee

    • 27. Bean SIZES ▪ What is Screening

    • 28. How Bean SIZE is Related to TASTE

    • 29. Bean DENSITY ▪ Important Factor

    • 30. DEFECTS of Green Coffee Beans

    • 31. PEABERRY: Defect or "Caviar"?

    • 32. Coffee RUST: Biggest Tragedy

    • 33. Certifications: FAIR TRADE

    • 34. ORGANIC: What Can It Say?

    • 35. RAINFOREST Alliance: Save Planet!

    • 36. BIRD FRIENDLY ▪ Birds and Coffee

    • 37. UTZ Capeh ▪ Traceability

    • 38. OTHER Certifications ▪ Sustainable

    • 39. CUP of EXCELLENCE as Mark N1

    • 40. What is CASCARA and Coffee Flour

    • 41. What is SPECIALITY COFFEE

    • 42. AFTERWORD ▪ About Next Сourses

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About This Class

Dear Friends, welcome to my course «Secrets of Coffee. BOTANY»!


It is intended for Coffee Lovers who want to know more about their favorite drink and understand all its biological diversity and versatility.


I will introduce myself to those who are not yet familiar with my first course – «The HISTORY of COFFEE.» 


My name is Sergio Reminny, I am a coffee expert with 25 years of experience in the professional coffee industry, a businessman, a writer, a blogger, and the 1st Coordinator of the European Speciality Coffee Association (SCAE) in Ukraine.


I studied business and marketing in the UK, USA, France, Netherlands, Sweden. For more than 20 years, I collaborated with Italy, where I lived and worked for many years, and where I learned the ins and outs of espresso today's leading coffee culture on our planet.

My fascination with coffee has taken me to over 100 countries: I have visited coffee farms in Ethiopia and Yemen, Panama and India, Costa Rica and Hawaii, Colombia and Rwanda, Nepal, Indonesia, Brazil, and many others. 


And today I bring all my experience to you through my coffee lectures.

The main task that I set for myself in the course was to translate the complex coffee world knowledge into simple and interesting lessons for both ordinary coffee lovers.

And also to teach you to UNDERSTAND the relationship between different categories of coffee and, to help you use this knowledge in your life.


In general, my coffee botany course consists of 5 main blocks, including:

The LIFE CYCLES section, where we will figure out how the coffee beans are made up and what happens to coffee in its early days, youth, and old age.


We will find out who are «Soldiers» and «Butterflies», how many chromosomes coffee has, and how global warming threatens this plant.


In the CLASSIFICATION block, we will study the main groups and botanical species of coffee in the global trade.


We will figure out what is «Coffee Grown in the Shade» and how the coffee tree conquered our planet.

In the VARIETIES block, we will discuss the relationship between Arabica and Robusta, will study Liberica and coffee hybrids, and familiarize ourselves with such varieties as Polysperma and Arabusta.


The PROCESSES section here we will understand the complex, but incredibly important details of moisture and drying of coffee, the secrets of fermentation, and will also talk about «Honey coffee» and «Monsooned» (or, «Aged») coffee.


In the BEAN section, we will talk about all the nuances of the density and sizes of the coffee beans and will understand such important aspects as the caffeine content.


We will review the defects of the coffee beans in detail and will understand the specifics of the «Coffee Caviar» – peaberry, and we will try to understand why «Coffee Rust» is a tragedy of the world of coffee.


In the last block, entitled CERTIFICATIONS, you will learn what different certification programs can tell the consumer about the taste of coffee. In this section, we will speak about Fair Trade, birds, and the «Cup of Excellence.»


And for dessert, we will figure out what the real Speciality coffee is.

Despite the scientific-sounding of the term «Botany», the course, in my opinion, turned out to be simple, interesting, and entertaining – it contains a lot of illustrations and videos.


The materials presented here are unique, and you will not find them on the Internet. All the lessons of the course are based on my many years of experience studying coffee and my personal system of compiling this knowledge.


I assure you that after completing this course, your level of coffee knowledge will rise to new heights.


And I promise that it will be interesting.

Well, my friends, we have a lot of work to do, so get a cup of your tasty coffee, and let's begin!

See you in the first lesson!

Meet Your Teacher

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COFFEE EXPERT - Sergio Reminny

25 years of Love for Coffee ❤️


Hi, my name is Sergio Reminny, I am a coffee expert with 25 years of experience in the professional coffee industry.

I was the 1st Coordinator of the European Specialty Coffee Association (SCAE) in Ukraine (2003-2008).

Today I am a blogger and writer, author of the books "Secrets of Coffee", "Travels over the World of Coffee" and "Coffee Letters from Italy". 

I created the most complete Coffee Blog in the former Soviet Union countries, and today I have more than 500,000 followers on my Facebook page.

I studied business and marketing in the UK, USA, France, Netherlands, Sweden. For 20 years, I collaborated with Italy, where I lived and worked for many years, and where I learned the ins and outs of His Majesty Espresso - today's lea... See full profile

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1. INTRODUCTION ▪ About this Course : Hello, dear friends, and welcome to my second course of the “Coffee Basics” series - “The Botany of Coffee.” It is intended for the coffee lovers who want to know more about their favorite drink, and understand all its diversity and versatility. I will introduce myself for those who are not yet familiar with my first course - "The History of Coffee.” By the way, I strongly recommend that you take it, because, together with the "Botany” course, it will help you form a COMPLETE picture of the basic coffee knowledge. My name is Sergio Reminny, I am a coffee expert with 25 years of experience, a businessman, a writer, a blogger and the 1st Coordinator of the European Speciality Coffee Association in Ukraine. Over the past 10 years, I have been running my YouTube channel and a Facebook page with the audience of half a million followers. After thousands of articles on my Coffee Blog, and a series of coffee books, I created this online course. Its main goal is to tell you in the simplest and most interesting way about all the botanical aspects of the coffee tree and its fruits - our favorite coffee beans. But my most important task was not only to present all the information in a comprehensible manner, but also to teach you to UNDERSTAND the relationship between different categories of coffee botany and, most importantly, to use this knowledge in your life. In general, my coffee botany course consists of 5 main blocks, including: - The LIFE CYCLES section, where we will figure out how the coffee beans are made up. We will find out who are "soldiers" and "butterflies", how many chromosomes coffee has, and how global warming threatens this plant. - In the CLASSIFICATION block, we will study the main groups and botanical species of coffee in the global trade. We will figure out what is "coffee grown in the shade" and how the coffee tree conquered our planet. In the VARIETIES block, we will discuss relationship between Arabica and Robusta, will study Liberica and coffee hybrids, and familiarize ourselves with such varieties as Polysperma and Arabusta. In the PROCESSES section, we will understand the incredibly important details of moisture and drying of coffee, the secrets of fermentation, and will also talk about Honey coffee and Monsooned coffee. In the BEAN section, we will talk about all the nuances of density and sizes of the coffee beans, and will understand such important aspect as the caffeine content. Here we will also review defects of the coffee beans in detail, and will understand why “coffee rust” is a tragedy of the world of coffee. In the last block entitled “CERTIFICATIONS”, you will learn what different certification programs can tell the consumer about taste of coffee. In this section, we will speak about Fair Trade, birds and the "Cup of Excellence.” And for dessert we will figure out what the real Speciality coffee is. Despite the scientific sounding of the term “Botany”, the course, in my opinion, turned out to be simple, interesting and entertaining. It contains a great deal of illustrations and videos. The materials presented here are just unique, and you will not find them on the Internet. Because all the lessons of the course are based on my many years of experience of studying coffee and my personal system of compiling this knowledge. Believe me, it took me decades of work and thousands of hours of detailed study of a huge amount of data. I assure you that after completing this course your level of coffee knowledge will rise to new heights. And I promise that it will be interesting. Well, my friends, we have a lot of work to do. So, let's get down to business right away! 2. Bean STRUCTURE ▪ Pergamino: In our first lesson of botany, we will study the STRUCTURE of the coffee bean. You must have often seen standard cutaway pictures of coffee beans on the Internet. But such pictures only show the bean parts with difficult names like "endosperm" or "mesocarp.” I would like to explain these abstruse names and also the essence of each of the components of the coffee cherry. This is why I will translate for you this "scholarly" topic into human language. So, the external skin (aka EXOCARP) – the outer coating of the coffee fruit. The coating of the mature fruit is juicy and sweetish in taste. When the fruit is ripe, you can easily squeeze the beans out of it with your fingers - just like a pit from a cherry. By the way in many languages the coffee berry is often called "cherry.” It is followed by the "pulp" (aka MEZOCARP) - cellulose, a kind of "fat" under the skin. The pulp is “embedded” into the lower layer of the skin and is best seen during processing the beans, a process called “depulpation” (separation of the pulp) - during this procedure, it turns into a thick starchy mass. Now comes an important element with the archaeological name ENDOCARP. It is called "parchment coating” or "parchment" ("pergamino” in Spanish). This coating plays an important role: after the coffee beans are cleaned from the skin with pulp, and after washing, it remains a kind of protective shell for the lobule inside. If you squeeze with your fingers a dried bean, enveloped by the parchment, this “shell” bursts, and inside it you find a coffee lobule. The scientific name of the small coffee bean is ENDOSPERM. Standard pictures of coffee cherries from the Internet show us 2 flat beans in each berry. However, as a rule, up to 5-6% of the harvest is made up of the berries containing 3-4 or even 5 small coffee seeds (most of which, unfortunately, do not survive). Sometimes the room of both seeds is occupied by a single overgrown bean. It acquires an almost round shape and is called "peaberry.” We will devote a separate lesson of our course to this interesting phenomenon. The mucilage (mucilago in Spanish), a slippery layer, is found between the parchment and the pulp of the coffee fruit. It is quite a difficult term to describe. The “clever” name for this layer is the PECTIN layer. It contains polysaccharides, thanks to which, as I said earlier, the skin of the berry becomes sweet. Let’s go on to the “silverskin” with an odd scientific name PERISPERM. This is a very thin transparent film that envelops the bean like a cobweb. It is also often referred to as "the seed coat”, that is, the coating of the coffee seed itself. But coffee producers almost always call it by the nice name “silverskin.” This is the last protective layer of the green bean. Typically, before the sale of green beans, the silverskin is removed by special machines, but sometimes it remains in the folds of the bean and these remnants can be seen in the fibers of the roasted beans. I almost forgot about the mentioned "longitudinal groove" - the small channel in the middle of the coffee bean. This is the name for the space between the reflexed edges of the coffee lobule. It is in this specific "seam" the remnants of the silverskin get stuck after roasting. So, this is how the structure of the coffee fruit looks like. In conclusion, I will say that once they unfolded in the press a polemic on what is a coffee bean - a fruit or a vegetable? It's up to you which definition to choose for yourself, but ordinary coffee lovers recognized that the most correct answer to this question is as follows: “It's a STONE (or a drupe) inside a coffee fruit.” 3. PLANTING Coffee ▪ Who is Soldier: In the previous lesson, we figured out what coffee fruit consists of. And now, let us go through the whole life cycle of the coffee TREE, beginning from planting the seed and up to its, so to speak, retirement age. It all starts with green coffee beans from the last harvest. They are planted to obtain the first germs. It is done as follows: A thin layer of sand is spread onto a long wooden deck or a strip of soil. Coffee beans are laid out on it and then they are covered with another layer of sand. There is one interesting detail here: for proper germination of the beans, they must be planted face down (or “bottom up” in other words). The definition "face" used above refers to the side of the coffee bean where there is the "longitudinal groove". The bottom is from the opposite side, respectively. This is important because otherwise the bean will not germinate. After a while, small germs appear from inside the planted bean. For the peculiar shape of their heads, they are sometimes called “matches.” This is the most tender and touching age of the coffee tree. On their thin stalks, the germs are stretching upwards, making their way to existence. It’s a real fun to watch them doing this. When there are many of them, the germs look like an army of little coffee men. In South America, by the way, they are called just so - "soldados" - "the soldiers.” Despite their young age, these "little soldiers" are in a very combative mood. Once we walked through the patio of one of the farms of Costa Rica, where coffee beans were laid out to dry in the sun. And there I saw an unusual picture - how these little coffee sprouts-soldiers made their way into life right through the asphalt ! Growing up, the beans begin to develop, the coffee fruit slowly opens up and turns into a green sprout. Colombians call such sprouts "butterflies, moths”, and they really look much like butterflies. The complete transformation of a bean into such a sprout takes approx. 70 days. 1 kg of green beans produces up to 3,000 “butterflies.” Later they are transplanted into pots, and only then they become seedlings or young plants. More precisely, they are transplanted not into pots, but rather into small packages, which are then placed in small greenhouses. To be noted that the planting of a coffee tree is not so much the moment of the initial putting of the beans in the sand but rather the transplanting of the germinated sprout from the coffee deck into such small individual pot, the house, so to speak. I once went through this memorable procedure in Colombia. Of course, it is memorable for the coffee tourists only (like me), because farmers are annually repeating this operation thousands of times. How do they do it? A sharpened stick is taken, stuck into the ground, and a small hole is created in a circular motion. Then the seedling is carefully put into the hole and poured with soil. The greenhouses, in which the small pots with the transplanted sprouts are arranged in orderly rows, are in fact the "coffee kindergarten.” This is how they are really called - in English, it’s “nursery”, and in Spanish – “almácigo.” Here, covered from the scorching sunlight, young seedlings are preparing themselves for their future coffee life. By the way, do you remember how in childhood we were being told that the age of a tree can be determined by the number of rings in a cut-off tree trunk? Now, the rings on the trunk are not the only way to determine the biological age, especially when we are dealing not with mature trees, but with young coffee seedlings. And if you know the secret, then everything is not difficult at all: each leaf or a pair of leaves located on the same level means ONE MONTH of the seedling's life. For example, the seedling in this photo is 3 months old. After half a year in the "kindergarten", the already matured seedlings go to the elementary grades of their "coffee school" - they are transplanted to a real adult plantation. This plantation, however, is transitional too - on such young plantations, land plots with low "young-age" trees are always clearly visible. And we'll talk about the real adult life of coffee trees in the next lesson. 4. Global WARMING for Coffee: In this lesson, we will solve two problems at once: I will explain to you how the coffee tree begins to yield, and I will do this by telling a story about how the “Global Warming Effect” manifests itself in relation to coffee. The last question has been increasingly alarming both producers and coffee lovers recently – you, probably, have noticed yourself how many pieces of news and articles have been published on the subject in the press. The topic of “Global warming” is not a simple one, and ordinary people often think that since it is about warming, then there will be a problem with a shortage of water. But in fact, the main problem is not at all that coffee suffers from heat (after all, on "open" plantations, trees are anyway constantly under the scorching sun). The bigger concern is that the rise in temperature affects the overall change in processes. You need to understand that growing agricultural crops is not just a matter of climate or temperature regime, but a whole complex of interrelated factors. And let me explain this on the example of blossoming and ripening of the coffee fruits. This cycle looks as follows. At about 5th year of life, the coffee tree becomes "industrial" and begins to bear fruit stably once a year (in some countries, twice a year - it depends on the climate, rainfall, etc.) а) the flower appears within approximately one week from the moment when what we call "buds" appear on the tree; b) after a few days the flower falls off, and on the branches remains what farmers call "pinheads" - small buds from which coffee fruits begin to grow; c) the pinhead is then transformed into the fruit (this phase is called “the milky stage”) – you can even squeeze white milk out of it at this stage; d) and in 9 months, farmers get wonderful coffee cherries. 9 months is not an exact figure, the harvest ripening period may vary from 6 to 11 months, but on average the farmers consider that duration of ripening is 9 months. The exact time frame depends on the duration of the rainy season in a given area – the rains are vital for the ripening of the fruit. This is why the amount of precipitation per year in the region is one of the most important indicators for a farmer. During the rainy season, the coffee berry grows, and once it is over, it begins to ripen completely and change its color from green to red (or yellow, depending on the variety of coffee). So, if you look at this from the perspective of global warming, then, due to climate change, not only the temperature increases, but all the biological rhythms described above are being disrupted. This leads to the disruption of cycles, changes in coffee taste and decline in production. And this is where the key problem is. Farmers, of course, are not sitting idly by and are looking for ways to fight the climate changes and develop new resistant varieties of coffee trees. In all coffee producing countries there are national institutions involved in the study and development of new breeds. But we will talk about this later, during the lesson dedicated to botanical species of coffee. 5. Coffee TREE: 100 Years of Life: In this lesson, we will analyze the period of formation of the coffee tree - the time, when it begins to produce full commercial harvest. Usually this happens in the 4th or 5th year of its life. Trees achieve maximum productivity at the age of about 15 years, and they are fully used for commercial purposes until they are about 20-25 years old (although this greatly depends on the country). But in general, trees bear fruit until the very end of their days. It's just that when they grow older, they give very little harvest and become unprofitable for farmers. At this point, the “pensioners” are replaced with younger trees, and the cycle starts over again. However, the figures I have given above are averages. In reality, in many countries, trees are exploited as long as to the age of 40-50 years. And in Brazil and Kenya, for example, they even showed me 100-year-old coffee trees. These old-timers still give some harvest, although a small one. It doesn’t make sense to go into details when discussing this phase, but I would like to highlight one more small but important point. It is called "pruning.” If you visit a coffee plantation, you may often see the following picture: a small stump with twigs sticking out of it. In fact, this is not just an old tree stump, but a fully productive tree that has just been pruned. That is, it looks like a very young tree, but judging by the massive trunk, you realize that this specimen is already quite old. The essence of this procedure is to remove unproductive branches so that new twigs could grow. You know, it’s like a woman who was given flowers and who once in two days cuts their stalks so that they could stay live longer in the vase. The analogy is not totally accurate, but the biological essence of pruning is the same – to help the plant activate its metabolism. The thing is that the berries grow on the branches efficiently for only one year. The next year, part of the branch does not bear fruit anymore, and the yield decreases. This is why, in the course of their life, the trees are periodically pruned at a height of about twenty centimeters above the ground. This is done to "shut down" the old trunk and to activate the growth of a new, young branch, which, naturally, will bear fruit better. In such cases, the main trunk is pruned. Pruning is a mandatory process of plants handling, and farmers do it every year. Separate brunches are also pruned. By the way, be aware that “primaries” is not only the process of election of a politician, it is also a term denoting primary branches of the coffee tree, that is the branches protruding directly from the main trunk. The branches that grow on the primary branches are called “secondaries.” In their turn, the secondaries let develop the tertiary branches, and so on. To be noted that the branches are pruned not only to increase yielding capacity, but also when they grow too high up, and it becomes inconvenient to harvest. Trees pruned using the "umbrellizing" method look especially picturesque. A very accurate name: the tops of the coffee trees are actually transformed into what you can call "umbrellas.” The farmers make them cascading and resembling either the tentacles of an octopus, or the tenacious hands of some evil wizard. In particular, this is done on the Gayo plantations in Sumatra with the same purpose to make harvesting more convenient. By the way, this gives rise to a dilemma. On the one hand, pruning the tops of the trees makes harvesting more convenient. But if a farmer does not prune a tree, he gets more cherries, because the surface of the tree that yields the harvest is larger. This is why in some countries, you can often see pickers standing on small ladders and picking coffee cherries from the upper branches, which they cannot reach from the ground. Sometimes farmers use a different, very unusual solution - I witnessed such technique in Mexico. To get harvesting more convenient, the pickers tie the top of the tree to the ground. As a result, half of the trees of the plantation (the highest ones) are curved in such unusual form. Well, I believe it’s enough to discuss the pruning options - let's move on to such an important topic as the "Classification of coffee." 6. Coffee GENETICS ▪ Chromosomes : Speaking about the botanical peculiarities of different species of coffee, I would like to dwell on one more point. I'm sure that many of you have heard that Robusta tree has 22 chromosomes, and Arabica tree has as much as 44 chromosomes. Also, you heard that Arabica is a self-pollinated species of coffee, and that Robusta needs cross-pollination. Let me briefly clarify what this information could mean. It sounds scientifically abstruse, and few people understand what the conclusion might be. Let's talk about PLOIDY. Ploidy is the number of identical sets (= "pairs") of chromosomes located in the nucleus of cells of any organism. Diploid cells (for example, in Robusta) are the cells containing ONE pair of chromosomes (i.e. two identical copies of each chromosome). Conversely, polyploid cells (as in Arabica) are the cells containing SEVERAL pairs of chromosomes. It is important to understand that different number of chromosomes in the vegetable world does not mean “The more is the better.” For example, polyploidy (that is, greater number of chromosomes than in normal species) in humans, is considered a disorder and is a serious genetic disease characterized, by the way, by rather high mortality rate. But for plants, polyploidy was of great importance in their evolution (it is believed that polyploidy gave life to about a third of all existing plant species). This is why, the increased number of chromosomes in Arabica is not "better" or "worse", but it is a historical characteristic of the evolution of coffee as a species. And this, by the way, is another proof of the latest theory according to which Robusta existed before Arabica and could easily become one of its genetic parents. As for pollination, you should know that there are two main types of pollination: self-pollination and cross-pollination. I think you know what is POLLINATION - this is the process (more precisely, one of the stages of the process) of sexual reproduction of the seed plants. This process represents the transfer of pollen from the stamen (male organ of the plant) to the pistil (female organ). If the fertilization is successful, this process results in development of the seed. Pollination occurs by way of transfer of the pollen by animals or by the wind. So, during SELF pollination (in case of Arabica), the pollen gets from the stamen to the pistil of the SAME flower (on the same tree), giving rise to the germing of the fruit. With Robusta, we have the cross-pollination process, when pollen of the flower of one tree is transferred to the pistil of the flower of ANOTHER tree. Such differences mean that Arabica is less adaptable to the environmental conditions - it is sort of “locked down within itself.” On the one hand, this does not facilitate the enrichment of the genetic diversity of the species (and, hence, its prosperity). But, on the other hand, it has one significant advantage: Arabica is less exposed to the changes occurring during its life cycle, and the harvest from each individual tree is more homogeneous in terms of composition. In its turn, the cross-pollinated Robusta receives additional genetic information, which ensures more sustained genetic heredity. This increases variability of the fruits and raises the SURVIVABILITY rate of the species. Let me remind that the name “Robusta” means “strong, viable, solid.” That is, one of these two - Robusta - seems to think more about future generations, and the second species - Arabica (let's say, a selfish one) - cares more about quality of its life today. By the way, I will add to the topic of pollination that the famous "jasmine" aroma of the coffee flowers, which coffee lovers always mention with passion, also plays a huge role in pollination. The point is that the flowers of the coffee tree are snow-white in color. The white coloring attracts butterflies, but bees, for example, are not interested in light colors. That's why, in case of coffee, this is the scent of the plant (the flower), which is the main reference point for many pollinating insects. This is why the pronounced floral aroma of the plant is extremely important. 7. TRADE Groups ▪ Naturals and Milds: In this lesson, we will study the groups of coffee existing in the world coffee trade. Yes, in the world coffee TRADE. I do understand that at first glance this is not quite botanical aspect, but rather a commercial, or more precisely, a stock exchange aspect. And at first I didn't even want to include this topic in my course. But it is very important to understand one thing: the entire modern coffee cultivation is aimed at reaching one goal - to grow and SELL coffee beans. And this goal is in the center of all activities in the areas of growing and processing coffee. This is why, before we start talking about botanical coffee varieties, we need to understand the commercial scheme underlying the entire system of world coffee cultivation. So how is coffee classified commercially? And what parameters and criteria are used for the classification purposes? And is it in principle possible to standardize a product that is so dependent on such a subjective category as taste? This is about division of the world coffee production (in case of growing only) into blocks, which are the reference points for all, without exception, exchange brokers. According to the International Coffee Organization, there are 4 main product categories: - Colombian Milds, - Other Milds, - Brazil Naturals, - and Robustas. The first three are the Arabicas classification, the last one, as the name implies, is Robusta classification. Arabica accounts for 2/3 of the world coffee turnover, so there are naturally more categories for it. In addition, we are talking about trade (commercial) classification, and since Robusta is cheaper, it is at the very end in the priorities system. Now, let us consider them one by one: 1. Colombian Milds – this category includes the most expensive "industrial" beans sold on the world market. Not the most expensive coffee in the world in general, but the most expensive MASS PRODUCTION coffee. These Arabica varieties have undergone the "washed” processing, which is the most efficient processing of the beans And since Columbia dominates in the world production of washed Arabica, this country’s name was given to the whole category: - Colombian Milds, that is, mild Colombian-like varieties. 2. Other Milds. This category is also called "Centrals”, since most of this coffee is grown in Central America. However, this category includes not only American, but also African and Asian Arabicas. 3. Brazil Naturals – this is the category of Arabica beans that have been processed using the "dry” method – that is, the beans were dried in the sun in the usual natural way, and this is why they are called “Brazil Naturals.” Brazil, whose name was given to the whole category, grows a huge amount of such Arabicas, it is less valuable than previous varieties, and this is why this group is positioned lower in the commercial classification. 4. Robustas. There is nothing special to tell here, everything is simple: this category includes all Robustas sold on the world markets (its main production is concentrated in Asia and Africa). This is usually not explained in the commercial quotations, but, for your information, I will say that the above categories include not only the countries whose names are given to the entire group, but also coffee produced in other countries. Let's say "Colombian mild" is not necessarily coffee from Colombia only. Kenya and Tanzania also fall under this definition. “Brazil Naturals” are by no means only Brazilian varieties: this group also includes coffee from Ethiopia and Paraguay. And there are other nuances, for example, many countries produce both Arabica and Robusta. Naturally, in real life there are always some specifics, but this classification covers fundamental categories. This is how the world coffee commerce has established historically, and this classification is the result of agreement between the producing countries that signed a fundamental document named The International Coffee Agreement, which regulates relations in the coffee industry. Once again, I emphasize that we are talking about the relationship between the sellers only. Because such a division has nothing to do with end consumers who are practically unaware of it. 8. Botanical CRITERIA for Coffee: It is important to understand that a universal system of evaluation of coffee, uniform for the entire world, does not exist today. Each country has its own specifics of classifying coffee and determining its grades and quality. In general, this is fair enough, because everywhere there are national and production particularities. For example, why should Costa Rica need a classification based on the botanical types of coffee, if only Arabica is grown there, and Robusta is officially prohibited in this country?.. Or why should Colombia apply the criterion of “processing methods” (“dry” or “washed”) within the country if they produce only “washed” coffee? But still there are certain criteria for evaluating coffee beans, which are recognized by all countries. Again, these criteria apply to the raw product, that is to GREEN coffee beans. However, due to the fact that roasters today try to convey to consumers as much as possible information from growers, you may see practically any of the below listed designations on coffee packaging in a supermarket or in a coffee shop. Let me specify the basic criteria, and in the following lessons we will analyze separately each of these critical categories. 1. Botanical species. 2. Region. 3. Altitude. 4. Method of processing. 5. Bean size. 6. Bean density. 7. Number of defects. 8. Taste in the cup. As I have already mentioned, there is a great deal of gaps in the coffee classification, and there is no agreement on many issues, but this is the way the world of coffee works. Periodically I ask myself the following question: if even coffee traders themselves are not unanimous in matters of classification, then how can an ordinary inexperienced coffee lover understand all these signs like AA, Milds or SHB?.. I think there is the only correct answer: it is necessary to EXPLAIN things. And this mission can be completed only by those who sell coffee, including importers, roasters, owners of coffee houses, and baristas. If they, instead of trying to impress the client with complicated terms and geographical names from distant countries, seek to explain complex things in a simple way this mission may be not so difficult. After all, as one of the famous people said: “What seems to us a problem, may in fact be an opportunity.” You should agree that if the seller, instead of using a vague term "peaberry”, gives a description like “ROUND coffee beans - one of the most valuable products of the coffee world called "Coffee caviar” - he will convey information to the buyer in a much more clear and attractive way. It is critical that all coffee industry participants without exceptions agree with this approach. Because the flow of knowledge is most often interrupted at the point of contact with the consumer, whose level of coffee education is not always sufficient, but who still loves coffee and, most importantly, pays for it. 9. Coffee SPECIES: Parents of Arabica: So, the fundamental and foremost criterion used in coffee botany (and in commerce too) is the biological SPECIES of coffee. It will be honest if I say that in these lessons I would very much like to refrain from telling confusing stories about botanical classifications or about results of crossing different pairs of varieties. This is readily available information which you will anyway easily find in the Internet. For me, it is critically important to give you the correct UNDERSTANDING of the matter rather than tables and diagrams. This is why in this lesson I will first emphasize several points, and then we will go through one important historical line. More precisely, through two historical lines. But more on that later. Of course, the main division of all coffee botany runs along the "Arabica - Robusta“ line. We will talk about Robusta (and compare it with Arabica) in a separate lesson. And now I would like to clarify one critical point. You have probably often heard trivial phrases like “Coffee species include Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, etc.” Actually, this is not quite true. Arabica is indeed a SPECIES with the official biological name Coffea Arabica (our thanks to Carl Linnaeus). But Robusta (Coffea Robusta) is NOT a species. In fact, the fully legitimate partner of Arabica is the species of coffee called Coffea Canephora. And Robusta (Coffea Robusta) is its main variety. The Robusta’s domination in the kingdom called "Coffea Canephora” is so powerful and single-handed that it has practically captured the name of the entire species, and today this partner pair invariably sounds in the combination "Arabica-Robusta.” But this is not the whole truth. Scientists are finding more and more evidence in favor of the hypothesis that Robusta (more precisely, Coffea Canephora) is one of the genetic parents of Arabica. It was crossing of Coffea Canephora with another coffee species called Coffea Eugenioides that gave the world the child named Coffea Arabica. Today, there is already a number of facts supporting this hypothesis. In particular, the area of origin of Arabica is located right on the border of the zones of existence of Coffea Canephora and Coffea Eugenioides. The caffeine content, which is the key value of the coffee tree, also speaks volumes. If in Coffea Eugenioides it was mi serly 0.5%, then only thanks to the caffeine power of Robusta (up to 3%), Arabica inherited its current averaged content of 1 - 1.5%. Incidentally, the above mentioned Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus is not only scientific "FATHER” of Arabica, but also the author of the most successful classification of plants and animals that became the basis for scientific study of the living organisms of our planet. And this is the introduction to the science of definition of the biological SPECIES that is believed to be one of the main achievements of Linnaeus. For coffee lovers, his most important merit was that it was this scientist who assigned a scientific name to the coffee plant, which mankind has been unfailingly using up to this day. However, to be precise, it was not Linnaeus who cataloged coffee as a plant, but French botanist Antoine de Jussier (this Frenchman beautifully called coffee “Jasminum Arabicum” - “Arabian Jasmine”). And Linnaeus made a fundamental adjustment: he defined coffee as a separate genus in the plants classification. As far as the SPECIES is concerned, we are grateful to Linnaeus only for Coffea Arabica, since Coffeа Robusta has nothing to do with the great Swede because it was cataloged by French scientist Jean Baptiste Louis Pierre. So now, when you come across the botanical name Coffea Arabica L., be aware that the letter "L" officially stands for "Linnaeus.” And despite the fact that Linnaeus is not the discoverer of coffee as a plant, because he just performed the role of its "systematizer", he did an extremely important job. Indeed, in fact even today coffee botany has enough of its own inconsistencies and varying interpretations. In this sense, there is another demarcation line in the world of coffee species. Due to the fact that the number of species used by people in practice is limited to Arabica and Robusta only, very often people confuse the species with VARIETIES of coffee. Let us be honest, even from baristas we can hear that “Bourbon, Typica or Caturra are SPECIES of coffee.” No, they are not species, but varieties, a rank of coffee botany BELOW the rank of species. The SPECIES (Coffea Arabica, Coffea Canephora, Coffea Liberica, etc.) are comprised of varieties. The varieties may be: A) Natural (those that originated in a natural way), and their correct name would be “varieties.” and B) Artificial, in which case they are called “Cultivars” (the name represents the combination of two words “CULtivated VARiety”), that is, cultivar is not wild but human-bred variety of a particular type of coffee. But in practice both "cultivar" and "variety" are often simply referred to as “variety”. Honestly, this is where I wanted to finish the lesson about botanical species and varieties. But I decided to allow a little historical digression and a repetition. I want to share with you one of the chapters of my previous course “History of Coffee” describing the way the coffee tree had conquered the world. Using this excursion into history, I woul dlike to explain to you another peculiar "watershed", which exists in the world of Arabica coffee. The thing is that if you take all the varieties of Arabica, they can easily be divided into two groups. One of them will include only two varieties: "Typica" and "Bourbon", and the second group - all the remaining almost 100 varieties of Arabicas existing in the world. Such division is due to the fundamental evolutionary role of "typica" and "bourbon.” This is why I want to outline for you the history of their development. To do this, we will need to return to our starting point, to the location where, the scientists believe, coffee takes its origin - to the Kaffa region, even a bit to the south - to the borderline between Ethiopia and Kenya. The coffee trees that grew here did not have any variety or brand name - they were the original source, a kind of Adam and Eve of the coffee history of the world. They gave birth to the entire coffee race. This is why, today, the original and the foremost variety of coffee bears the scientific name "Typica", which in this case could be translated as "typical, basic.” In the beginning of its journey(somewhere in the 11th century), coffee made its way from Ethiopia, across the strait, and reached the Yemeni sea port Moka in the Arabian Peninsula. From that moment, a new era began in the coffee chronology, the era of not just trade, but also of wide commercial cultivation of coffee. This is in that period the small coffee tree from faraway Africa had spread all over the world, having become the most beloved beverage on the Earth. This more than 300-year long stretch consisted of two parallel lines of evolution. In this case, by “lines of evolution” we understand the paths of geographical spreading of the coffee plantations on the planet. The above mentioned 2 main lines are the “Typica” line (that main Ethiopian original source) and the “Bourbon” line. “Bourbon” came later but the history of its independent life was so rich and important that “Bourbon” was classified into a separate line of development comparable to “Typica” in terms of importance. 10. TYPICA ▪ Variety that Started It All: Now, let us move to the mainstream of dissemination of the coffee tree around the world, generally called as “Typica Line.” It began 100 years after the Baba Budan story, when at the end of the 17th century, the Dutch sent coffee seedlings from India to the island of Java in Indonesia (then called Batavia). Thus, it was in Java where the first commercial cultivation of coffee began after Yemen. And since then and up to now Indonesia has always been one of the Top 5 global coffee producers. In 1709, the Dutch brought several Typica trees from Indonesia to Amsterdam and handed them over to the Royal Botanic Garden. By the way, it was Сarl Linnaeus who studied and cataloged them there. At this point, the paths of the Typica variety diverged. The Dutch exported Typica to Dutch Guiana, their colony in northern part of South America (today this country is called Suriname). From there, coffee cultivation reached the southern part of Brazil, where Typica prospered during the next 150 years. From Brazil, coffee came to Peru and Paraguay, and then, through Colombia and the Caribbean, it reached Central America. But this was not the only route of Typica. The French also played a significant role in its dissemination. In 1714, after conclusion of peace between France and Holland, the mayor of Amsterdam gave a coffee tree to the royal botanical garden of King Louis XIV. In 1720, the French planted this tree in Martinique. By the way, this story also involves an abduction. We know this from another fairly well-known coffee legend - the story of Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, who actually stole the coffee tree from his own king. King Louis was not interested in the coffee production, so the tree remained a useless museum exhibit. Our officer saw a business opportunity in coffee cultivation and asked his beloved, who served at the royal court, to solicit coffee seedlings through the royal doctor allegedly for medical treatment purposes. There is an entire book describing the adventures of the brave officer and the challenges he faced. His ship barely escaped a meeting with pirates and nearly crashed during a storm. During the voyage, the crew ran out of fresh water, and all the coffee trees, but for one precious seedling, died. And de Clieu, who so desperately craved about coffee plantations in the New World, shared half of his daily water supply with the only surviving young tree. Nevertheless, when the ship finally reached Martinique, the coffee tree took root in the island perfectly, and 50 years later there were already about 20 000 coffee trees in Martinique. From Martinique, coffee culture migrated to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia, and then, at the end of the 18th century, to Central America - Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador and other countries. Until early last century, most coffee plantations in Central America were planted by Typica. But from 1940s, the growers started to replace Typica trees with more fertile and disease-resistant Bourbon line plants. Typica is still present in many countries of the world, in particular, it is widely represented in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. But in general, it can be said that the primeval form of Typica, which is slowly becoming extinct, played the same role for coffee culture as the antique art, having engendered the whole current coffee growing culture of the world. 11. BOURBON ▪ French Kings & Coffee: In this lesson, we will analyze the 2d historical line of dissemination of the coffee trees. It is called “Bourbon Line.” Just like Typica, Bourbon coffee originates from Yemen, (because, as I already said, the same old Typica became the basis of Bourbon), and it was again the French who played a key part in its appearance. When the Royal Courtyard of France appreciated the taste of coffee at the beginning of the 18th century, French East India Company instructed naval officer Guillaume d'Arzel to make an expedition to the Yemeni Moka, to take hold of coffee trees there and to plant them on the French island of Reunion. Until 1848, this island in the Indian Ocean was called Bourbon - after the name of the ruling royal dynasty of France. In September 1715, the Sultan of Yemen gave to the delegation of d'Arzel 6 coffee trees, which were later planted in Reunion. French East India Company organized the coffee production process including parent stock procurement and warehouses and roads construction. The authorities offered preferences and support to all settlers who would agree to keep at least 100 coffee trees in bearing. And if in 1704 only 734 persons lived in Reunion, 50 years later, when the French brought slaves to support the coffee production, there were as many as 17 000 residents on Reunion. In 1728, the Governor of Reunion reported that "the number of coffee plantations is growing steadily, and the island will be able to meet the coffee demand of the entire kingdom." Had Typica just continued to grow in Reunion, remaining the same variety of coffee, it would have never been called “Bourbon.” But the fact is that the local farmers began to notice differences in their trees as compared to the classic Typica plants. The leaves had slightly different color- they were not reddish, as usual, but greenish. The structure of the tree and the fruit also became slightly different. In fact, it was the first Arabica coffee mutation in history and the first appearance of a new variety, which received its name after the name of the island - Bourbon. Interestingly, this coffee had not left the island for almost a century and a half, until 1862, when so-called “French mission” - the Vatican's religious Catholic mission - transported it to the African continent and planted it in Kenya, neighboring Ethiopia. This is surprising, because despite the proximity of this 2 countries and the fact that the north of Kenya was in the area of the original spread of Arabica, coffee was brought into the country by the French from outside after so many years. After a long while - in 1937 - Bourbon came to Tanzania, having thus returned to the countries neighboring Ethiopia, several centuries later. In 1860, coffee from Reunion comes to Brazil (district Campinas), and in the mid-20th century it rapidly captures entire Southern and Central America, replacing traditional typica there. It is noteworthy that in recent decades, Bourbon, in turn, has also been in large quantities replaced by its new varieties, such as Caturra, Catuai or Mundo Nuovo. Nevertheless, it is still widely cultivated in a whole number of countries, such as El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala. So, we have looked at the chronology of the spread of the coffee tree around our planet. I would like you to understand that in principle the whole world owes the appearance of coffee to a single country, and this country is Ethiopia. All other coffee varieties came from there, and all of them are either brothers, or sisters. Therefore, while playing the game "Which coffee is better” please, try to refrain from derogatory criticism in respect of other varieties of coffee. Indeed, in reality it cannot be said that they lose to each other, just each of them has its own specifics. And please, remember that all Arabica coffee growing in different corners of our planet is nothing else than Ethiopian Typica (including the Bourbon variation) and its derivatives obtained as the result of its natural crossing, mutation or artificial selection. 12. Growing REGIONS ▪ "Coffee Belt": Coffee is cultivated in more than 70 countries of the world. And, despite the fact that it is difficult for an ordinary person to memorize all regions of growth, there is a principle that gives you required guidelines. It may be called “Climate principle”: because the growth of coffee depends on naturalconditions, and primarily on the climate. The coffee tree belongs to the Rubiaceae family, represented by evergreen shrubs and small trees. It grows in regions with hot climate (average annual temperature 18-22°C) Coffee is a tropical plant. This is why, frosts are the biggest threat for the tree, because they kill it instantly. There is also the ALTITUDE factor: tropical zone, situated at an altitude of 600 to 1200meters above sea level, is the best environment for the cultivation of coffee plantations. We will discuss the altitude factor in the next lesson – I have mentioned it here just to explain that there is a whole range of climatic factors required for the growth of the coffee trees. So, the complete set of these factors is present only in the countries located in the belt stretching in the equatorial zone. To be more precise - in the belt between 24 degrees of North and South latitudes. This area is called TROPICS. It is also called the "Coffee Belt of the Earth", because tropics are the main areas of coffee growing on the planet. That is, when you look at a map of the world, it is not difficult to guess where coffee is grown: it is cultivated in all countries situated ALONG THE EQUATOR, one tropic above and one tropic below it. For reference: the upper tropic is the Tropic of Cancer, and the lower one is the Tropic of Capricorn. Coffee grows in between these two lines practically on all continents of the planet. There is one more extremely important nuance. From the commercial perspective, there is certain historical distribution of roles in the world coffee industry. The point is that the markets of CONSUMPTION of coffee have been traditionally determined by the markets of its GROWING. For example, the North American continent (Canada, USA) has always been consuming mostly thecoffee produced in Central and South America, and this is exclusively Arabica. This is why, the American coffee brewing technique (filter coffee) has always implied the use of Arabica’s taste. In its turn, Europe has been traditionally focused on Africa and Asia that produce both Arabica and Robusta. For this reason, in the Old World, it was traditional to use BLENDS of Arabica and Robusta, in particular, in the espresso method, the most popular coffee culture of Europe. This topic, by the way, will be the subject matter of my next online course - "The Coffee Culture of Italy.“ From my part, I can say that I do like the use of geographical names in the coffee industry. It dramatically decorates the coffee theme, fills it with symbolism and, most importantly, makes it individual. After all, the names of countries are powerful centuries-old BRANDS filled with their own historical and cultural meaning. Obviously, when the name "Papua New Guinea" is pronounced, 99% of those who hear it immediately imagine a wild man with a spear, and when a person hears the word "Japan", he visualizes a graceful geisha walking down the street in a kimono. The word “India” immediately pops up in your mind the picture of a beautiful lady with a spot on her forehead, and when you hear "Brazil”, the imagination draws a mischievous boy with a soccer ball in his hands. In conclusion, I would like to note that today the category of region of growth is acquiring a new, broader meaning. While previously it was named mainly by country of origin of coffee, today this can be a separate region of a country or its administrative province (such as Ethiopian Sidamo or Copan in Honduras) or even a single city (like Guatemalan Antigua or Colombian Medellin). Or, even a small district accommodating famous farms and plantations (Panamian Boquete or Costa Rican Tarrazú). In view of relative poverty of these regions, their geographical names have not yet become protected trademarks. But, most likely, it is only a matter of time. 13. Why ALTITUDE is on Coffee Packs: When you are on a tour of any coffee farm, you constantly hear from the guide comments as regards altitude and its correlation with different species of coffee growing in respective plantation. The altitude factor is traditionally significant for the growers, and if you understand it more deeply, then it can give you certain information. Coffee lovers have heard that Arabica trees grow at altitudes higher than Robusta trees. Indeed, Robusta is considered a low altitude growing species - the range of heights of its plantations is from 400 to 800 meters above the sea level. Arabica, in turn, grows at altitudes from 1,000 to 2,000 meters, sometimes even 2,5 thousand meters. In general, the altitude indicator is of more interest to professionals who construct their own "altitude-based picture" of different species of coffee. Because for ordinary coffee lovers, incomprehensible 4-digit numbers on the packaging are of little interest. Nevertheless, despite the low information content of these figures, they are persistently indicated by producers wherever it is possible. Why? In my opinion, this can be explained by the fact that the information on the altitude is just about the only statistically accurate indicator used in the entire coffee industry. There is very little room for mathematical parameters in the segment where taste is the main criterion of evaluation. Hence, such a reverent attitude towards at least some exact numbers. Perhaps the only conclusion that can be drawn from these figures is the understanding of acidity of coffee (this index is also rather relative, yet it is an index). It is common knowledge that the greater is the altitude of growing coffee, the more acidic it is in its flavor profile. This is why Arabica beans have an order of magnitude more pronounced acidity – as already mentioned, Arabica plantations are located at altitudes that are a couple of times higher than Robusta plantations. I will repeat, the use of the indicator of plantation altitude on packs of coffee has almost no meaning or informational value for the end consumers. But it’s true that this indicator is one of the most important parameters in the coffee cultivation. 14. SHADE Grown vs. SUN Grown: In this lesson, we will figure out which coffee is called "Shade Grown coffee.” For this purpose, I'll use the example of Guatemala, because this country suits best to tell the story of the coffee “Grown in Shade.” The fact is that in the coffee industry Guatemala is famous in that 100% of the coffee cultivated there is grown in the shade. In terms of solar influence, the basic types of coffee cultivation are: 1) SUN grown coffee. This is the case where coffee trees are planted in direct sunlight (so to say, "in an open field"); and 2) SHADE grown coffee. According to this method, coffee trees are covered by larger trees and are growing in shade (full or partial). The “shade coffee” is categorized into several types, the main of which are: - "Monocultures" - when the shade is formed by trees of the same species; and - "Polycultures" - when the shade is provided by different types of trees (including commercial - for example, banana palms, which, in addition to the shade, produce their own yield). Proponents of the shade-grown coffee claim that shade decelerates the metabolism of the coffee fruit during ripening, and thus the beans ripen more slowly. Allegedly thanks to a more even and durable maturation, the taste of such coffee becomes similar to the taste of high-altitude Arabica. In addition, the presence of trees brings a number of positive aspects: they contribute to a greater release of oxygen and increase the population of local birds. Also, the trees that shade the coffee provide fertilizers in the form of fallen leaves, and the strong root system of large trees makes the soil of the plantations more cohesive. On the other hand, there is a problem. Large trees create the shade but, at the same time (due to the same powerful root system) they deprive their coffee brethren of some water, which is so badly needed for the ripening of coffee fruits. The way of planting trees is determined by the degree of solar activity in a given region: for example, Hawaiian coffee is planted without shade (because the sun hardly burns on the islands after lunch) and, for example, in Colombia, with its merciless heat, it is more appropriate to use shade. I want to prevent coffee lovers from misunderstanding: some people believe that definition "100% coffee in the shade" means that ALL coffee is in the shade and is covered by other trees - growing like a sort of dense coffee forest. That’s wrong, this inscription means that shade is used on ALL (100%) plantations of the country (in particular, this is the case in Guatemala). But if you take each plantation separately, the ratio of large shade trees and coffee trees is about 40/60 (40% shade, 60% sun). Do not forget that historically coffee originated from the shade. For example, the so-called “wild” coffee in the province of Mankara in Ethiopia (better known to us today as Kaffa) has grown like this up to now. By the way, in Guatemala I witnessed a very interesting situation representing, if I may say so, a “childish” version of coffee grown in the shade. One of the tree species most frequently used to create shade on coffee plantations in Latin America is Gravilea tree. During my visit to the mentioned "childish" coffee plantation (where they plant the small coffee germs at the very beginning of their life), next to each coffee seedling, I noticed sprigs of the Gravilea that were simply stuck into the ground. Some of these bushes somehow even intertwisted with young coffee trees, thanks to which they began to look like a sort of camouflaged snipers. In Guatemala, they do this because the idea of “coffee in the shade” has been cultivated in this country since “childhood.” The purpose of this process is dual. First, to protect the small germ from the sun - just like it is done with adult coffee trees. And second, although it sounds oddly enough for a tropical country - to protect coffee seedling from the cool of the night. Frosts are one of the worst enemies of the coffee tree, as even temperatures close to zero can easily kill the entire yield. That is, the branches of the Gravilea tree in this case are a kind of "caring big brother" who looks after the small coffee sprout from its very childhood and continues to take care of its younger brother in the future, growing together with it. It is also a great example that demonstrates the essence of the "shade" coffee cultivation. 15. ARABICA vs. ROBUSTA ▪ Blends: Our next lesson will focus on the relationship between Arabica and Robusta. This is a very important topic because the attitude towards Robusta, in my opinion, is one of the most unfair things in the modern world of coffee. Unfortunately, the majority of both consumers and baristas have a stereotype that elevates the name “Arabica” and belittles the name “Robusta.” This is partly due to the rumors according to which large companies are allegedly using cheap Robustas to produce their instant coffee. And partly it comes from the fact that Arabica is able to create products even on its own (with the advertising mark "100%"), and Robusta without Arabica is much less widespread. I do not in any way challenge the strong sides of arabica (such as "softness" and "delicacy"), because in direct taste opposition Robusta really loses to Arabica). But if you try hard enough, you can find lots of shortcomings and weaknesses in Arabica too. I will give just an example of a way of thinking for you. Say, famous for its slightly sour taste, Arabica, although it is softer in taste for your tongue, is at least 2-3 times more harmful for your stomach (even if it is healthy). This is due to the high acid content. Americans spend 14 billion US Dollars annually to purchase drugs to combat hyperacidity. Moreover, more than 40 million US residents suffer from stomach pains after drinking a cup of standard coffee. This is why they started to market the so-called "low acid coffee" in America. And now, look - if the Robusta fruits ripen longer (10-11 months versus 9 months in case of Arabica), then what about the stories about the more “well-balanced” taste?.. Robusta is an order of magnitude more resistant to all kinds of diseases and gives a higher yield from the planted area – isn't this important in today's unstable economic situation? It's also cheaper - is that always a bad thing?.. Arabica is a more high-altitude product (as we already know, it grows at an altitude almost twice as higher as that of Robusta), which requires higher logistics costs and leads to an increase in the production costs, and, as a result, in prices. It is also more expensive because in most countries of the world Arabica is processed using only the "washed" technique. But those who have tasted the finest Indian "washed" Robustas know that they have great taste (plus less acidity) and are currently acquiring the "speciality" status in full swing. And, for example, in Indonesia - one of the leaders in the world production of Robustas - the local producers put the “100% Robusta” signs on coffee packages. Moreover, the stereotype that has been disseminated by the press for decades, according to which "1/3 of the world's coffee production is Robusta, and 2/3 is Arabica", has been seriously challenged recently, because today Robusta’s production accounts for more than 40% of the world's coffee production. Saying this, I just want to draw your attention to the necessity to apply an integrated approach. And the reason for which I am doing it is the understanding of how the industry of coffee is organized and where it is moving today. There is no need to carry out a profound analysis to realize that espresso, which is the most technologically advanced way of making coffee that guarantees the most intense taste of the drink, has become the dominant business model of the world these days. Despite thousands of alternative ideas, the coffee industry nowadays unconditionally plays following the rules of espresso. During the previous lessons, I have already mentioned such specific aspect as "geographical distribution of markets.” If you remember, I said that the markets of consumption of coffee has been traditionally determined by the markets of its growth. The North American continent has always been consuming mostly the coffee produced in Central and South America, and this is exclusively Arabica. In its turn, Europe has been traditionally focused on Africa and Asia that produce both Arabica and Robusta. Such specialization predetermined the methods of brewing coffee on different continents. Americans have traditionally used filter coffee, which is easy and convenient way of making Arabica-based beverages. Conversely, the Italian espresso was conceived as a more sophisticated technological method and was created on the basis of combination of Arabica and Robusta. I will say again, very important: Italian espresso was created as a BLEND- a mixture of two species of coffee. And each of these varieties played a specific and a very important role in the creation of blends for espresso coffee. In espresso, Robusta has always been needed like air. Because in the "Arabica / Robusta" pair, this is Robusta who is responsible for the creation of crema (foam), which is the most important visual and flavor factor of proper espresso. Experts know that Robusta produces 2-3 times more voluminous foam than Arabica. I also would like to remind you that Robusta is responsible for the strength: it contains almost twice as much caffeine as Arabica. And if we take into account that half of people (52%) drink coffee in order to cheer up, it turns out that Robusta is at least two times more suitable for this purpose. I infinitely respect the marketing and commercial talents of the American coffee industry. Americans, who have always been famous for their professional approach to marketing, have raised the status of the "100%Arabica” label to an incredible level. But at some point, there was certain skew in the coffee industry and the espresso coffee train started to change to the American track to continue its route to the future. After which the vendors, when making use of the espresso technique (that has its own history of using blends), started to use "100% Arabica” coffee, which is a source of raw material with a totally different background and history. So the taste of espresso often began to go beyond the limits of a reasonable taste balance. Because when they use espresso method to prepare Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee (which are perfect for filter technique), the excessive acidity that they get in the cup does not give personally to me any taste pleasure at all. Because the espresso method increases all characteristics of coffee several times, acidity included. And the worst thing is that the use of 100% Arabica lead to a disdainful attitude to Robusta on a global scale, which, in my opinion, prevents many professionals from adequate perception of realias of espresso and from comprehension of the role of each of these species of coffee in the creation of blends for their coffee businesses. In fact, blends composition has always been the most challenging task that required the top level of workmanship from the roaster. This is why the roasters now are also known as "producers", because they, like the primary producers (the growers) give coffee another life - a life in the consumer world. I did not mean to criticize neither Arabica nor Robusta in this lesson. I just want to draw your attention to the ambiguity of the assertions and myths that exist in the world of coffee. Despite the fact that Robusta cannot occupy the same step as Her Majesty Arabica, it is definitely a partner counterweight to it. They are not antagonists, but Yin and Yang of the coffee world. And the harmony of Arabica and Robusta is in their unity, even though each of them has its own separate life. On the one hand, Robusta seems to be the little brother in this coffee pair. But do not forget that the biggest revelation in the relationship between Arabica and Robusta is the degree of their congeniality, which I discussed in the above-mentioned lesson on botanical varieties. Today, no one in the coffee industry has any doubt that Arabica has Robusta’s blood in her veins. And it's not right to reproach your parents for something, isn’t it? I perfectly understand that the information contained in this lesson sounds like the protection of Robusta. But, by and large, that's what I wanted to do. Because, while we always strive for the best, we hardly need to be wary of Robusta. This coffee Cinderella does a lot of rough, but very necessary work for our taste. And it becomes prettier with each passing day. And I do not doubt for a second that the time will come when Arabica and Robusta blends will be respected and professional again. 16. Exotic LIBERICA ▪ "White" Coffee: In this lesson, we will talk about Liberica, the only species of coffee which, in addition to Arabica and Robusta, has commercial application, albeit insignificant. This is a very interesting topic, because the overwhelming majority of coffee lovers have never come across this variety of coffee. At the end of the 18th century, Adam Afzelius, a student of Сarl Linnaeus discovered this species in the forests of Liberia (hence comes the name). Coffea Liberica, to put it mildly, cannot boast the most refined taste, and this is why this species accounts for less than 1% of the global coffee production and is scarcely found as a commercial product. Malaysia can be considered the leading country specialized in Liberica production. This country has a very specific feature that is very unusual for the coffee world: Liberica accounts for more than 90% of the coffee produced in the country. Coffea Liberica plantations may be found in a number of countries (for example Indonesia or Philippines), but only one country in the world is totally dependent on Liberica, and this is Malaysia. Malaysia is not a member of the International Coffee Organization, so statistics about the coffee it grows is not widely circulated on the Internet. It is not easy to find even decent pictures of Liberica beans on the global web. The most famous Malaysian coffee product is White Coffee. We'll cover it in more detail in my Coffee Marketing course. And now I will only say that besides the unusual roasting method (this is done with palm oil), “White coffee” has one more specific feature. Any coffee blend created under “White coffee” label is always a mixture of Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica. It should be noted that Liberica has never had a nice taste, and even owners of local kopitiams (as coffee shops are called in Malaysia) say that roasting of coffee beans with palm oil was invented to conceal the strong taste of Liberica. This coffee has always been considered the drink of the poor, and addition of oil and sugar (and a lot of condensed milk) helped soften its rough taste. Due to the exotic nature of Coffea Liberica, for some reason, people think that it has a high caffeine content. But in fact the amount of caffeine in Liberica approximates the caffeine content of Arabica (that is, a couple of times less than in Robusta). By the way, from the botanical point of view, Liberica differs from Arabica and Robusta by an interesting fact. When its fruits ripen, they do not fall from the trees, which allows making the harvesting schedule more flexible. Despite all the specifics of the taste, the attitude towards Liberica in Malaysia is quite positive, and one of the most famous local coffee shop chains is called "My Liberica Specialty Coffee." Of course, Coffea Liberica is far behind its older brothers - Arabica and Robusta. But for all the specificity of its taste, it will undoubtedly sooner or later take its place in the orderly ranks of modern coffee marketing. 17. HYBRIDS: Tim-Tim and Arabusta: Our next lesson is on hybrids. I must say that classification of coffee is generally rather imprecise topic, and when it comes to hybrids, there is a just a handful of experts in this domain. Some people even confuse hybrids with blends, that is mixtures made up of different types of coffee beans. But in most cases, creation of blends seeks to improve the taste characteristics of coffee or to address the price factors (say, to cheapen a product). Conversely, the first and foremost (but not the only one) purpose of creation of hybrids is to improve factors of agricultural nature. And that is an order of magnitude more difficult task. The main point of the hybridization is in crossing heterogeneous organisms to find an optimal combination of the best characteristics of these organisms. For example, they are trying to combine taste qualities of one of the species with biological resistance (disease resistance) of the other one. This is a simplified example, because normally hybrids serve a great variety of purposes. The breeders may additionally seek to achieve an increase in the yield of a variety or an increase in the weight of the fruits (as we remember, coffee is sold by weight). It should be noted that, in comparison with other agricultural products, hybridization in the coffee industry is more limited. This is due to a number of factors. For example, due to the fact that coffee is a perennial plant, that is, to obtain the first results of hybridization, you need to wait 5-6 years, and this is a considerable time for experiments, especially in comparing to faster annual crops. In addition, coffee species are crossed only within their own culture. All Arabicas originate from one area, from East Africa, and has limited variability. After all, the crossed varieties must ensure genetic DIVERSITY, while the Arabica family members have genetic similarity of 98.8%. For comparison: the genetic similarity of rice and soybeans, for example, is only about 70-80%. Primarily for this reason, hybrids of Arabica and Robusta are one of the most difficult and, at the same time, one of the most desirable combinations. I would like to tell you about the most famous hybrid of Arabica and Robusta. To do this, let us travel to Indonesia, the country that developed one of the most popular coffee hybrids, which today is genetically present in a great deal of varieties ofcoffee. To be precise, it was discovered on another island - Timor, but actually its life began in Sumatra, where it was planted for subsequent commercial distribution. Its name is "Timor Hybrid", abbreviated as HdT (from Spanish "Hibrido de Timor"), known in coffee circles as "Tim-Tim". Experts love this funny abbreviation, and some consider it a sort of playful nickname for the Timor hybrid. But in fact this short name was derived from the name of the island "East Timor” which in the Indonesian language sounds as "Timur Timor.” Species may be crossed by the man, in which case the resulting product is called "Artificial hybrid". Or a hybrid may be the result of natural mutation, to put it simply - “it happened involuntarily.” Subject to mutations may be either Arabicas individually (a bright example of such mutation is the famous Brazilian variety " Maragogype”), or combinations of Arabicas and Robustas. Tim-Tim is the product of such a mutation, the result of natural crossing of Arabica and Robusta. The "Timor hybrid" is sometimes called "Arabusta" - from "ARABica" + "RobUSTA" = ARABUSTA. However, this name is not correct: the term "Arabusta" does exist, but it is the official name of another hybrid. Fruits of "Arabusta” variety were bred and registered in the 70s of the last century by the French scientists who worked in the Ivory Coast. At one time the hybrid caused a great stir, but, as it turned out later, one of the specific features of Arabusta is the significant reduction of the yield each next harvesting season. In addition, trees of this variety could grow exclusively in the region where they were bred, that is, only on the plantations of Cote d'Ivoire. As a result, Arabusta neither gained popularity, nor it became widespread. But the search for new varieties continues constantly. And “Hibrido de Timor” has played and continues to play an extremely important role in this quest. It can be undoubtedly considered one of the most sought-after source genes for most robusta-arabica hybrids today. Even one of the latest varieties that has received a wide coverage in the coffee mass media lately, a Central American hope called "Star Maya", contains Robusta’s gene, all through the same original Tim-Tim. It is obvious that the number of new hybrids will continue to grow. I have to note that coffee industry has no more than just 50-60 enterprises engaged in production of new hybrids, and there are thousands of breeding companies working with other agricultural plants, such as soy, corn or wheat. And, most likely, the breeders will be primarily focused on the resistance and survivorship rates of the new varieties. And since this feature is the main botanical value of Robusta, it appears that this species has a promising and a rather cloudless future. 18. HYBRIDS: What are F1 and Graft: In this lesson, in addition to the topic of hybrids, I would like to give you an insight into a couple of terms, which, due to their specifics, are hardly familiar to the professional audience and are certainly unknown to the ordinary coffee lovers. If you suddenly run into designation "F1" in the world of coffee hybrids, be aware that it is not about "Formula 1". “F1 hybrids” is the name given to the new generation of coffee varieties which are characterized by much greater productivity and disease resistance. They are mostly created in laboratory conditions, that is, they are the result of cloning, and not growing from seeds. Because trees grown from seeds (for example, the next generation, called “F2”) do not have as superior qualities as their mother plants. This means that farmers do not have to germ the coffee beans on their own, but they must purchase the seedlings of such "pedigree" hybrids each season. However, some of the F1 hybrids produce two times higher yield than ordinary varieties. In short, for the coffee producers, F1 hybrid seedlings are like pedigreed horses: they are better but more expensive than ordinary varieties and it is more difficult to obtain them. For this reason, producers are recommended to purchase F1 from trusted sources only. Another term used in the coffee industry that I would like to dwell on is “graft.” “Graft” is one of the techniques of crossing seedlings of different biological species – a kind of biological transplantation. I was told about it in Guatemala - it was in this country that the "graft" method was invented in 1968 by agronomist Efren Reina. The objective of the "graft crossing" is to create a more viable coffee breed, when the root of one species (viable robusta) is crossed with the top of the sprout of another tree (expensive Arabica). They perform "grafting" manually, by cutting two germs and gluing their different parts. The crossed “spare parts” are simply bound with a tape (just like in the models of ships and airplanes that I used to glue as a child). This procedure is carried out when the sprout is in the very initial phase of development. By the next phase that begins on expiry of 45 days, the parts of the hybrid are already accreted quite tightly. This crossing method is rather productive. For example, if ordinary bourbon arabica may lose up to 52% of its fruits for various reasons, the bourbon crossed using the “graft” technique loses only 17% of the yield. Nevertheless, such a seemingly effective technique, invented back in the 60s, is not widely used today. This happens primarily due to the fact that, despite the high yield rates achieved in case of successful grafting, not many such "surgical operations" are successful. It is like transplantation of human organs - unfortunately, they are not always positive. And the most discouraging thing in case of coffee is that you are unable to detect the failure immediately. After all, as we’ve already said, a coffee tree begins to bear fruit only on the 4th or 5th year of life, and the need to wait for such a long time is the risk which not all farmers want to expose themselves to. But the research in the area of hybridization based on development of new techniques and varieties is performed in the coffee industry non-stop. 19. POLYSPERMA ▪ Most Unique Coffee: In this lesson we will talk about, perhaps, the most unusual type of coffee. I personally have not seen anything more unusual in the world of coffee botany. We will conduct our lesson in Kenya - it was there where I came across this amazing product. The coffee that is the subject of our lesson is not grown on industrial plantations, and I met it in the National Kenyan Institute of Coffee, well-known in Africa for its scientific activity. The Institute reserved one separate plantation for the Museum of Coffee Trees from different countries of the world. By the way, it was here where for the first time in my life I saw the coffee tree called “Coffea Canephora Erecta.” This variety got its name from the branches, which do not hang down or are stretched aside, but are always looking up… Honestly, at first, I even did not realize that the tree of the unusual variety we will discuss now was a coffee tree. Its fruits look more like small red tomatoes than coffee: they are bright red and have perfectly round shape rather than oval regular coffee cherries. I confess that I have seen a lot in the coffee world, and it is rather difficult to surprise me - almost any picture is predictable to me. But you are in for a shock, when, after having used to see fruits with two or three beans, once upon a time you pick up a cherry and see something that resembles dragon's teeth or a corn cob with lots of beans. This type of coffee is called "Coffea Polysperma" or "Coffea Arabica Polysperma Burck" (Burck is the Dutch botanist who was the first to discover it in Indonesia in 1890). The English for Latin “Polysperma” is "polyspermic" or “many-seeded”. In those fruits that we “stripped” in Kenya, as well as in those that I brought home with me, each cherry contained 8 small beans instead of the standard 2. There is practically no information about Coffee Polysperma on the Internet. This kind of coffee is very rare, although sometimes you may come across it, because they are already trying to plant it on some farms in Indonesia or in Colombia. Growers from these countries reported about 5, 6, 7, and sometimes even 8 beans as it was in my case. The beans are of irregular shape and are somewhat hollow inside. It feels like they did not receive enough of nutrients, which can be quite true. It is clear that there is big difference between feeding up 2 and 8 children. Coffee polysperma has very (really very) rough taste. In this condition it is probably hardly suitable for commercial growing. But realizing the super exotic nature of "polysperm" (and hence its marketing and commercial attractiveness), farmers are already making attempts to improve the taste of this coffee by crossing it with other varieties. I think sooner or later we will definitely hear about it, because Coffea polysperma is too outstanding when it comes to the shape of its berry and its marketing potential. 20. HARVESTING ▪ Picking vs. Stripping : This block of my course may be entitled “production related” module, because we are going to discuss not botany proper but just certain technological processes related to the cultivation of coffee. Not all of them, of course, but only the processes that are closely related to or directly affect the botany and physiology of the coffee fruit or bean. And here we will start with the terms “picking” and “stripping” that are most frequently mentioned on the Internet. Many coffee lovers have heard about “plucking each cherry separately” (picking) and “ripping all cherries off the branch in one move” (stripping), but not everyone understands the essence of the processes. After all, what’s the point in striping, if picking is considered a more selective technique? I would like to briefly explain the meaning and purpose of these operations. In coffee farming, there are two main methods of picking ripe fruits from a tree: manual and mechanical (or, machine harvesting). The manual collection method is divided into the above-mentioned "picking" and "stripping” techniques. Picking is a selective method when the farmer picks only ripe coffee cherries from the tree with his fingers - one at a time. Stripping is a method when the picker plucks off all the fruits from a branch with a sharp movement of his hand. In the professional environment, there is a myth saying that stripping is always bad. Firstly, allegedly due to the fact that using this method the picker plucks both ripe and yet green coffee fruits, that is, the harvested coffee is not homogeneous in terms of maturity. And secondly, it is believed that when the fruit is plucked with a sharp movement, the skin of the coffee fruit is damaged. During one of my trips to India, on a tour of a plantation, one of my coffee colleagues incessantly criticized local farmers, indignantly wailing: "Look, they are stripping!”, after which he voiced the above two arguments. To which the manager of the plantation confidently gave him a calm answer: “Everything is relative and individual in the coffee world. Yes, there is such an aspect, but there is nothing wrong with it. We have a problem with hiring people, so we need to collect as much harvest as possible during the working day. And we use stripping to collect as many fruits as possible. And at the end of the day, we can calmly sort out the coffee separating ripe beans from unripe ones. The ripe coffee goes for export and the unripe beans are sold on the internal market, where the requirements to the quality of coffee are much less strict. Otherwise, up to 20% of the harvest will remain on the trees. This is why it is better to strip everything and then sort the beans out instead of just losing them due to the lack of labor force. And the "problem" with the damaged skin of the coffee fruit is not a problem at all. Because at the end of the same day the harvested coffee will be processed using the "wet" method. As you know, with such processing, the skin is anyway removed from the fruit.“ A composed and very reasonable answer that perfectly demonstrates that you should not be intimidated by everything that is said on the Internet just because you do not understand it. I would like to add one more important detail to the above situation. The fact is that the main point of picking is to collect only ripe fruits from the branch, leaving the green ones to ripen for some more time. But practically 100% of the cherries were already ripe on the trees of the Indian plantation, which I talked about (some of them were even overripe). The trees looked completely red, In this case, stripping is fully justified, and picking is just as meaningless. Being aware that the image of the word "stripping” is not entirely positive, sometimes the farmers themselves are ashamed of this technique. When customers come to the plantation, the pickers cover the coffee torn by stripping with some blanket. Such coffee is easy to recognize, because, along with the coffee cherries, you can also see leaves and pieces of branches in the gathered stuff. Look, I don't want to sound like I'm advocating stripping. Of course, picking is definitely a more progressive - and more individual - method. I only mean to say that there are no absolute truths, but common sense is always here. As we've already said, in most cases, the farmers use stripping when the farm runs into the problem of deficit of labor force. In such situation it is better to collect the entire harvest that to lose a part of it selecting only the most ripen cherries using the picking technique. By the way, the labor force factor is important for the machine harvesting method too. This technique envisages application of various mechanic accessories. These can be simple vibrators attached to the trunk of the tree and generating vibration that makes the ripe fruits to fall on the ground. But more often the term “machine harvesting” is understood as the use of huge combine harvesters with rotating vertical brushes that move over the rows of the coffee trees and knock down ripe cherries. This method is quite effective but it often causes damage to the trees and knocks down not just fruits, but also branches, leaves and flowers of the coffee tree. Use of machines is a costly enterprise, and the farmer must have valid arguments (and some money) to decide to use this method. For example, Brazil has oversized flat coffee plantations, which are the best for using coffee harvesting machines. If we take Australia, this country has a high level of personal income and extremely expensive labor force. This is why the use of machines in Australia is expedient from the point of view of replacing people with machines. Interestingly, I witnessed use of the mechanical coffee harvesters in Papua New Guinea, which, as far as we know, is not one of the richest countries of the world. But they use them here for the reason which is fundamentally different from other countries. While in Brazil and Australia the mechanized harvesting allows saving money on labor force, in Papua they use machines because of the trivial lack of people to perform this work. In short, the specifics and purpose of using coffee harvesting machines can be different. But in general, machine harvesting is rather rare in the world. Ok, let us discuss the method of processing the harvested beans. 21. Why DRYING is So Important : In this lesson, we are going to address the moisture issue. They don’t discuss this matter very often. It is due to the fact that people simply do not fully realize the significance of this factor. Both for plants and for humans, water is the overriding aspect of existence. Coffee consumes huge quantities of water from the very first day - in the form of irrigation of the coffee trees and until the last moment, when coffee becomes a drink after it is dissolved in 99% of water. But if in the first and the last phase coffee needs a lot of water, when coffee exists in the form of the coffee beans, reduction and control of the moisture level are the cornerstone aspects of the coffee production. These are farmers who do the lion’s share of the work required to reduce the moisture content of coffee. Roasters resolve this issue automatically when they perform the thermal treatment of coffee. Once the cherries are harvested and cleaned, water ceases to be a friend and turns into the worst enemy of the coffee beans. Well, let us figure out how farmers fight with the moisture. In fact, this fight begins from the very first days that follow the harvesting. The collected coffee fruits are dried in the following ways: 1. In the yards of farms and plantations. Most often it is a natural way, when the uncleaned collected fruits are laid out on the concrete floor or on asphalt. On the Internet you must have come across the phrase "Coffee is dried in patio yards”. Concrete floors in the yards of farms (“patio” is the Spanish for “small yard”) can be mostly seen in more wealthy countries of Latin America. But in Africa and Asia, you can rarely see concrete floors at farms, because local farmers simply cannot afford them. This is why in the poorest countries coffee can be dried even on mats laid out on the ground, or, just on the ground, or, even on a nearby road. More often it is done after removing the skin from the collected coffee berries. The disadvantage of this method is that the beans do not dry evenly enough (and only on top) because they are almost not blown by the air stream. This is why farmers constantly walk with wooden rakes and overturn the beans, at the same time leveling them out. You may often see colorful pictures of this process in the Internet. In terms of economics, drying in a patio or on the ground is the cheapest option for a farmer. In addition, many experts are inclined to think that when the coffee beans are dried without having removed the skin, they acquire additional flavor and taste. On the average, it takes about two weeks to dry green coffee beans in a natural way. 2-nd method of drying: Racks with netting strained on them. Coffee professional and baristas admire the term "African beds” used to describe this method of drying coffee. It is nothing else but a wooden frame with a netting stretched over it, on which the farmers lay the coffee beans for drying. They also stir and turn over the coffee laid on such racks. These structures ensure much faster drying because air has access to the beans both from up and beneath, which makes drying more even. This method was nicknamed “African beds” because they often use it in Africa. “African beds” have one peculiarity. When it starts raining, farmers quickly put covers on the drying tables. Thanks to that the beans do not get wet because of the rain, but in this situation moisture condenses inside (after all, the beans are still wet themselves) and this condensate drips back onto coffee. This is why in Latin America they often use a modernized version of the "African beds," which is called "parabolic beds". These differ from the usual “beds” by additional plastic parabolic roof stretched over coffee. This shape of the roof makes the rain drain down along it. These structures differ from greenhouses in that they are necessarily OPEN from both sides to allow air freely circulate inside. 3rd method: Mechanical driers. Mechanical dryers are used by larger farms. When the yield is very high, it is important for the producer to be as little as possible dependent on the weather. Mechanical dryers are usually used in combination with other drying methods, such as drying in the patio. As a rule, coffee is left to dry for several days in the yards and then they put the beans in mechanical driers for final drying. Drying machine called "Guardiola" is the most popular mechanical dryer. It was invented by Guatemalan planter Jose Guardiola, who registered patent to his first mechanical dryer in America in 1872. Let me explain why moisture is one of the most scrupulously controlled parameters in coffee processing. Raw coffee is a biological object. The water it contains plays an active and important role in the physicochemical and biochemical processes taking place in the tissues and cells of the coffee beans. The moisture content of a green bean is an indicator of its metabolism. Simply put, the green bean continues to live. The higher the moisture content, the faster the metabolism, that is the faster are the processes of the beans aging. When a cherry is transferred for processing, its moisture content is around 65%. During drying, this figure is reduced to 12% (plus or minus 1%). Why 12%? Because when the moisture content is below 12%, the embryo dies and irreversible aging processes begin. Conversely, when the moisture content is above 12%, there is a risk of mold (fungus). When the moisture content is within the range of 11-12%, the bean is in balance with the environment. It neither catches moisture nor gives it off. It's like a bear in dormancy - all its processes are very slow. In fact, the essence of all drying processes is reduced to the goal of maintaining the moisture content strictly in the range of 11-12%. It is important to understand that the task is not only to dry the bean, but also to maintain it in this condition up to the point of sale (including export). The coffee bean is highly hygroscopic and sensitive to the changes in the environment. And it can easily both catch extra moisture or give it away. This is why the risk of going beyond the range of 9-13% is more than realistic. Where relative humidity of the outside air is up to 60%, the moisture content in the dried bean will be within an optimal range (it will be approximately 12% mentioned above). In this condition you can store coffee for 1 year, and the beans will maintain quite normal color and flavor. By the way, if you ever come across the term “Aged coffee”, be aware that it is about those green beans stored for 1 year or even during 2 or 3 years after harvesting. But if the air humidity increases to 65-70%, then coffee becomes stale and acquires yellowish coloring. And if the air humidity exceeds 75%, coffee will become unusable due to the moldy taste and smell. At the end of the lesson, I want to dwell on one more important point. From the perspective of the moisture content, a serious threat for coffee quality arises from the elements named “mycotoxins.” These are the toxins produced by microscopic fungi. The danger is in that their metabolic products can cause harm to human health. So-called A-type ochratoxin is believed to be the most dangerous mycotoxin. Being formed in moldy food products, it has cancerogenic properties and, in addition, it is an immunoloogic depressant. To be correct, I will add that ochratoxins appear in dirty rather than in humid environment. But the moisture remaining in the coffee beans after improper drying facilitates active growth of these fungi. This is why, for example, every Italian coffee trader who works with supermarkets should always check such parameter as “moisture content of ROASTED coffee beans”, which must not exceed 5%. For example, the light type of roasting, which is called “Scandinavian roasting”, may retain up to 7% of moisture in beans on completion of the roasting. And the Italian method of roasting implies evaporation of moisture to the indicator below 2.5%. Once I saw with my own eyes the result of testing of the coffee of my Sicilian partner. After the controlling test by Auchan supermarket these results were sent to Sicilians with acknowledgments because the moisture content of that coffee was only 0.8%, that is, less than 1%. Italians pay special attention to this factor, because while moisture content is not so relevant for making filter coffee, it is a critical factor when it comes to the espresso technology. Once again, I want to emphasize that moisture content of the green coffee is on the list of the most important indicators of its quality. 22. PROCESSING Methods ▪ Dry vs Wet: In this lesson, we'll analyze one purely technical term. This term becomes more and more familiar to consumers, because its symbols have been increasingly appearing on packs of coffee in the stores in the form of such inscriptions as “Dry coffee” or “Washed coffee.” They do not give much relevant information to ordinary coffee lovers - all they can understand is the fact that if coffee is "washed”, it means that it was additionally cleaned, like carrots are washed before they are sold at a market. In reality, the point is a little different. The methods of processing collected coffee are distinguished as "Washed" and "Unwashed", or as "Dry" and "Wet" processing methods. Another name for “Dry” processing is “Natural” processing. We discussed it during our last lesson when we spoke about drying. This is when the harvested coffee cherries are simply laid out in the courtyards of farms to let them dry in a natural way under the sun. What is then the difference between "drying method" and "processing method”, if I am telling about them in different sections of the course? The point is that the “Processing method” is a broader term. Apart from drying, it includes a number of other processes, for example, fermentation (we’ll discuss this extremely important topic in the next lesson). The “dry” processing is the most original method, since it has been long used to process beans in Ethiopia, the homeland of coffee. And today it is very popular in Brazil, the largest coffee country on the planet. When it comes to the "wet" method, then we can distinguish several stages of this process. This technique was used by the Dutchmen in Indonesia at the beginning of the world commercial cultivation of coffee outside Ethiopia. It had to do with extremely high air humidity in Asia that did not allow to effectively dry the cherries in a natural way. According to this method, the fruits are peeled on the day of harvesting and immediately put into large cement tanks. They rest in those tanks for 12- 24 hours (in some cases, for 2-3 days). This time is required to launch fermentation processes under which the bacteria begin to eat the sweet gluten remaining on the beans after removing the pulp. Once the fermentation is over, and before the beans are sent for drying, they wash off the residual slimy gluten. The final washing of the beans is often performed in the system of washing channels. This method was traditionally used by French planters in Africa and the Caribbean. You have probably often seen on the Internet colorful pictures demonstrating farmers who are using wooden shovels to make coffee beans move through such channels filled with water. By the way, beans are not only washed but also undergo the preliminary sorting procedure in those channels. The fact is that beans of different degree of ripeness have different weight. This principle is used to sort the beans as they move through the channels. Good ripe beans are more dense, and, therefore, they are heavier in weight. This is why, while moving along the channels, they float along the bottom. The underripe and defective beans are less heavy, and they are floating on the surface. So workers install a dividing partitions at different heights that ensure the primary sorting into ripe and unripe beans that are floating at different depth. The coffee that underwent the dry processing gets a label “Natural”, or “Unwashed”, or simply “Dry” or “DP” abbreviation (“Dry Processed”). Coffee of wet processing is labeled as "Washed" or "WP" abbreviation (Wet Processed). In some places, these processes are set against each other not as “Dry” and “Washed” but as “Dry” and “Wet”. In many countries (for example, in Brazil) this pair sounds as “Natural” and “Washed.” And somewhere there are separate names for each method: say, in India, “Plantation” designates washed coffee and “Cherry” stands for coffee after dry processing. Use of one or another type of treatment is predetermined by the historical development and geographical conditions of each individual coffee growing region. It is clear that in Africa, with its deficit of water, or in Brazil, characterized by high volumes of production (and the resulting huge water consumption rate), the use of the washed method is problematic. The "washed" method is considered to be more expensive but more effective. Producers claim that the washed processes improve and sharpen the taste, because fermentation takes place in the bean in a different way. It’s true that the taste really becomes “more pure.” On the other hand, many experts (especially Italian ones) believe that washed Arabicas (especially those grown in Central America) are characterized by excessive acidity when they are prepared using the espresso technology. From the consumer’s point of view, the “washed condition” is always perceived as a more advanced degree of processing of any product. And in today's world of targeting the consumer's brain, it is a good marketing argument. First of all, it is for this very reason the “washed coffee” is increasingly becoming a serious commercial trend. In this lesson, we have discussed two main ways of processing - "dry" and "washed". But there is one more, intermediate technique called "semi-washed". Today it is better known in the world under the name "Honey Coffee". This method has recently become very popular and trendy, but we will consider it in a separate lesson. 23. FERMENTATION: Super-Process: In this lesson, we are going to scrupulously examine one of the most important processes occurring during the coffee beans treatment. It's called “fermentation.” Perhaps only roasting can be more important for revealing the inner world and the secrets of a coffee bean, but the roles of these two processes are absolutely different. If you compare coffee to a human, then fermentation is the adolescent period, and roasting is the time of transition to maturity. It is not easy to describe fermentation in simple words, but I will try not to load you with physical and mathematical values and will retell you one of the versions of the origin of the process. Once, when I visited a farm in Guatemala, they told me an interesting hypothesis explaining the reasons of why farmers should ferment coffee. I deliberately said, "We will answer the question "WHY?" and not "What for?" I’ll explain it now but first, let’s obtain a basic understanding of what is “Fermentation.” Fermentation is a metabolic process in microorganisms causing release of energy as the result of which molecules of starch and sugar, in the absence of air, are decomposed into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. This process is catalyzed by enzymes (or ferments, and hence is its name). The fermentation effect is used in wine industry, in brewing, as well as while seasoning cheese and making bread dough. The fact that crushed fruits, if kept in a warm place, emit intoxicating substances, has been known to people for several thousand years. Fermentation was studied in detail in the second half of the 19th century by French scientist Louis Pasteur, who convincingly proved that fermentation (contrary to the then prevailing point of view) was not purely chemical process and occurred only in the presence of living cells of microorganism. Pasteur said that "Fermentation is life without oxygen.” This is the scientific aspect of the question. But let us figure out how this process relates to coffee. As I have already said, after harvesting, coffee cherries are treated using one of the two traditional methods, including "dry" and “wet processing.” As you may remember, in a wet processing they first peel the skin off the fruits, wash the beans, and then the process of fermentation begins. To do this, the coffee beans are put in special filled with water tanks for a period of 12-36 hours. The time of keeping the beans in these tanks (they are called "fermentation tanks") differs from country to country and depends on the temperature and altitude at which the processing is performed. While in Hawaii this process can be reduced to 10 hours, in Guatemala it can last up to 70 hours. Today, the procedure of fermentation of coffee beans is so classic element of coffee production that the question "What is it for?” sounds simply awkward – it's like asking "Why are we baking bread?" Over the 15 years of my travels around the coffee world, I discussed fermentation with hundreds of people and have heard at least a dozen versions of why it is needed. But no one has given a reliable definition so far. Scientific versions such as "It is needed to begin the process of separating sugars in the bean” sound more convincing than others. There are also more simple explanations, without any argumentation, like "After fermentation, the taste of the bean becomes more pronounced.” So the Guatemalan planter told me his own hypothesis. In his opinion, no one invented the process of fermentation of coffee beans on purpose. Everything is much more simple: several centuries ago this method of processing was applied to coffee exclusively based on the COCOA processing technology, which had been developed by Aztecs and Mayas and used by them for centuries in cocoa before humanity started to cultivate coffee. I immediately understood the point of the experienced planter, and instantly agreed with him. I try to think in a more straightforward way when interpreting many phenomena. Everyone is looking for some kind of complex ideas, explanations and hypotheses, but in history everything often happens according to the simplest scenario- by COPYING something that already exists. And, in this sense, it is always important for me to find some starting point. Well, tell me, 200 years ago - who could describe any chemical processes and the purpose of "the wet processing" by telling stories about the "complexities of fermentation"?.. For example, the dry method seems to have occupied the largest share of the market precisely because of its simplicity. OK,it was logical and simple to have coffee laid out in the courtyards of farms to dry under the sun. But the invention of the "wet" method for coffee (with all the difficulties of fermentation) is not entirely explainable (if even today no one can interpret it clearly). But it has always been a piece of cake to reproduce, or rather, COPY, something that had already existed. My Guatemalan colleague explained us that it was all about COCOA – the super product of all times that has always been as good as gold. Let me remind you: the Mayas and Aztecs began to cultivate it at least a couple of centuries earlier than people discovered coffee. Now, if we compare the workflow of processing coffee and cocoa, we will notice that the cocoa fruits are first cleaned. So, people also began to clean coffee (it is even easier, because its skin is much thinner). Then the cocoa beans are put in boxes, the boxes are tightly closed, and the fermentation process begins. So, they began to do the same with the coffee beans just by analogy. One detail should be noted here: the difference in the thickness of the pectin layer of cocoa and coffee. Do you remember “mucilage”, the thin surface layer, the slippery starchy coating on the peeled beans? Well, while in case of cocoa this layer is thick and sufficient for fermentation, the pretty thin coffee cherry skin was not enough for the process. It is possible that this is why they began to add water into the tanks with coffee beans. In some countries, by the way, farmers are still fermenting coffee in the same way as cocoa, using sealed boxes. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the washed way of processing coffee dominates in Latin (especially in Central) America. Perhaps this is explained either by the availability of sufficient reserves of water (in contrast to Africa) or by a higher level of well-being of population (in contrast to Asia). But who knows, maybe this is primarily due to the historical presence on this territory of ancient tribes that reached the highest level of civilization (Aztecs, Incas, Mayas, etc.) and used to employ advanced for their time technologies of cocoa cultivation? By the way, these technologies have not changed up to this day. Everything described in this lesson is just a hypothesis, because the answer has been lost in the mists of time. But for some reason I myself am convinced that the coffee treatment processes (and, first of all, fermentation) are nothing else but a copy of the processes used to treat cocoa beans. 24. HONEY Coffee ▪ Yellow, Red, Black: In this lesson, we are going to deal with the term "Honey coffee", which has recently become more and more trendy and in demand. And we will do this by the example of another coffee country - Costa Rica. Costa Rica, by the way, has one of the highest levels of domestic consumption of coffee among all other coffee growing countries. Costa Ricans consume almost 5 kg of coffee per year per person, and these are only Brazilians who drink more coffee in the producing countries. Costa Rica was the first country to start mass production of the "honey" coffee, which we are going to discuss in this lesson. The Spanish for “Honey coffee” is “Miel” or “Café Melado.” Well, what exactly is “Honey” coffee? Let's clarify the main point right away: this coffee has absolutely nothing to do with honey. This is the name of one of the methods of processing harvested coffee cherries. It is called “honey processing.” In the previous lessons, we studied the "dry" and "wet" methods of processing coffee beans. And I mentioned there is one more intermediate option. This is "honey coffee" method, or, as it is also called, "semi-washed" coffee. Let me remind you that under the "dry"method the harvested coffee berries are not peeled and dried and fermented in the sun. When the wet method is used, the farmers take off the skin from the beans after which the beans are fermented in water. Similarly to the washed technique, when coffee is processed using the “honey” method, the skin is removed, but then the beans are not washed but are instead immediately left to dry under the sun. Hence, another name for this method of processing- "pulped natural", which means “pulped (cleaned from the skin) and dried in a natural way.” The fact is that when the unpeeled pieces of pulp with remainders of the pectin layer ("mucilage") dry out in the sun, the bean becomes sticky and really looks like it is smeared with honey. Different countries (and even different farms) make absolutely different "honeys.” For example, in the famous Panamanian region of Boquete, to obtain the local "honey coffee” the pectin layer is practically not removed. On the contrary, in Indonesia, they remove the skin and the maximum amount of mucilage, leaving very little of it on the beans. The more popular the “honey coffee” becomes in the world as a product, the more variations of it begin to appear on the market. Today, farmers are even beginning to classify "honey" coffee by color: it can be yellow, red, black or even "white honey". Each name depends on how much of the pectin layer is left to dry on the peeled beans. If there is insignificant amount of the residues on the bean, it dries off better and the dry coffee beans acquire light yellow color. If you leave more gluten on the beans, the dried beans are red, one might even say, brown. "Black honey" is obtained when only the skin is removed from the cherry, leaving maximum amount of pectin on the beans. When it gets dry, this mass really looks almost black. The "color" range can be also expressed in numbers. After the skin is removed from the coffee fruits, farmers use machines to wash away the pectin layer. Depending on how much of it remains on the beans, producers designate their coffee as “40%”, “60%”, “80%” or “100%” honey coffee. Where does this diversity come from and what is the purpose of such experiments? The main reason for "playing honey" is the search for new marketing solutions. You need to understand that from agricultural point of view the main factors affecting the taste of coffee are: 1) The geographical location of the trees; 2) The botanical variety of coffee; and 3) The method of processing the harvested beans. And since the first two factors vary insignificantly (the region of planting does not change, and experiments with the type of the tree require long years), then practically the only way for producers to make their coffee more recognizable is the processing method. This is why, in recent years, farmers have been increasingly active in this area: to be different from other market players, they look for new ideas making maximum number of experiments with Washed, Semi-washed and Dry processing methods. Incidentally, the "honey" processing is beneficial for the farmers themselves, because it requires much less water than the “washed” technique. To make it clear - when farmers use this honey method, they save more than 2,000 liters of water on production of each 60 kg bag of coffee (comparing to washed process). Other costs (such as electricity consumption) are also lower, not to mention the marketing fact that the "honey" coffee is much more frequently perceived by the consumer as really natural and environmentally friendly product. This is why the "honey" coffee is not just a fashionable modern trend, but also a really efficient coffee beans processing technology. 25. MONSOON Coffee ▪ What is Aging: At the end of the processes block, let's turn our eyes at such famous product as Indian ”Monsoon Malabar.” Non-specialists (as, in fact, some professionals) often confuse this name with biological species of coffee and claim that Monsoon Malabar should be produced from Arabica beans only. This is not true. In fact, “monsooning” is the process of treatment of the beans with monsoon winds and air moisture, and both Arabica and Robusta coffees (and even more often Robusta) can be processed using this technique. "Monsooning” originated in the first half of the last century, when coffee was transported from India to Europe by sailboats. On the average, a sea voyage lasted up to 3 months. During the navigation, coffee beans were exposed to durable impact of high humidity and were also blown by the sea winds, which changed their taste and color from green to yellowish. When steamboats replaced sailing ships and then Suez Canal was opened for shipping, the period of transportation sharply reduced, as a result of which coffee did not have enough time to monsoon and customers began to receive ordinary green beans. But they wanted the yellowish coffee they used to receive before. So Indian coffee traders decided to reproduce the effect on land. This type of processing is performed in southwestern India, on the Malabar coast, just below the famous Goa. During the monsoon season (from mid-June to mid-September), they lay out the coffee beans in layers and constantly stir them in the unusually humid local air. During this time, the beans grow almost twice in size and change taste and color - just like during a sea voyage. And then the beans acquire this peculiar golden shade (it is closer to the color of straw). For all the uniqueness of the Malabar coffee, there is little correct information about it, and this is why the Internet is full of different versions about the essence of monsooning. To obtain answers to my key questions on the issue I had the privilege to spend a couple of days in one of the Mangalore companies, leading exporter of the monsooned Indian coffee. For example, Wikipedia is aggressively replicating the image of the monsoon coffee as "Coffee blown by the salty sea breeze.” This has given rise to a number of speculations as regards its salty taste. It is not the case of salinity, the point is different. The main benefit of the three summer months of the monsoon season (when the beans are being processed) is in the combination of two important factors: the extreme air humidity and the wind effect. Humidity is primarily rains, and not the result of vicinity of the ocean (after all, it remains there throughout the rest of the year). Many “experts” who have not been there are disorientated by the word “coast”: they simply confuse it with “seaside” and believe that the coffee lies right beside the water and is periodically irrigated by the splashes of the ocean waves. This is not true, because almost all companies producing monsoon coffee are located in Malabar itself (in the city), and they store coffee in the facilities on their own territory. By the way, the warehouses in which coffee is laid out during the monsoons are described on the Internet as some kind of sheds that practically do not have any walls. Of course, the warehouses do have walls, just their walls are not solid, but are made in the form of open windows. Empty coffee bags are hung in the windows, and they serve as screens making it possible to adjust the humidity level in the premises (when it rains very hard, the windows are closed). And the monsoon winds in this case are important as “fans” rather than carriers of the sea salt. Because when coffee gets wet and swollen, you need to breeze it constantly. In this sense the coast is another beneficial factor, because there is more open-air space there. Anyone who has been in the mountainous jungle knows that humidity is completely different there, it is sort of “stagnant” - this is why it takes such a long time to dry washed or wet things there. So, it is much more important that the air for processing coffee be not salty, but moist and moving. It is the moisture that triggers one of the most important metamorphoses of the beans, which grow in size almost twice. This is both unusual and beneficial for the producer: due to the fact that the bean size becomes larger, the price of the monsoon coffee increases. In general, the process that occurs with beans during monsooning is called "Aging". Aging of the beans artificially changes the taste profile of coffee. At least, it eliminates the increased acidity. But if it takes several years to “age” coffee in the traditional way, monsooning allows to achieve the same result within only 3 months. In addition, Monsoon Malabar has its own original taste - most often it is described as "straw taste”. It is very specific, and you can easily identify it among other coffees during cup tasting. 26. CAFFEINE ▪ What is "Strong" coffee: In this lesson, we will study caffeine, perhaps, the most important component of coffee as a product. In addition, we will analyze several misconceptions regarding such category as "Strength of coffee.” Because when we come across this definition, we almost always deal with certain substitution of concepts. So what qualifies as "strength"? To begin with, I would like to note that there is no clear statement or characteristic describing this factor in respect of coffee. This is why, in search of an answer, we will have to study the experience of some other industry where this topic does not give rise to any disputes. For example, alcohol production. Classical definition used in this industry says that “Strength is the indicator of the proportion of ethyl alcohol in an alcoholic beverage, or, in other words, the degree of saturation of the drink with alcohol.” I have never doubted that in our case the “strength” of coffee should most likely be considered as the degree of stimulating effect of caffeine on the body (on the nervous system). That is, the stronger the coffee, the more vigorous is the person who consumes it. And this is where arises the above mentioned substitution of concepts. It is not intentional - coffee lovers do it rather subconsciously, but still people tend to imply somewhat different characteristics when speaking about "strength" of coffee. There are 2 main characteristics based on which ordinary coffee lovers consider that this or that coffee is "strong”. 1. First of all, it is BITTERNESS, which is confused with strength in most cases. Such examples can sometimes be seen in the form of involuntary reaction of coffee lovers. You must have noticed more than once how a person exclaimed after the first sip: "Oh, what a strong coffee!” But how can you determine the strength of coffee from the first swallow, if the effect of caffeine is felt in at least half an hour, in the best case - in twenty minutes?.. Most often, bitterness is the expression of the degree of ROASTING (most of all, of course, dark and very dark degree of roasting). By the way, coffee producers (in particular, roasters), who indicate the "strength" parameter on their packs, actually support this myth. What other criterion do they specify on the packaging of some brands under a scale of small stars and beans that allegedly determine a greater or lesser degree of strength?.. In this case, manufacturers actually play along with their consumers - after all, coffee lovers have long ago defined for themselves what is "strength", and they simply want to see its degree on the packaging. In principle, producer has the right to evaluate its coffee at own discretion, even if it is some elusive "strength.” Another question is how to explain to the consumer the degree of “strength” of coffee, and what the client himself will understand in this explanation? Coffee, of course, can be bitter not only because of its strength, but also because of its composition. In particular, this is caffeine that gives the bitter taste to our favorite drink. There are descriptions in the Internet claiming that caffeine is tasteless. I had a chance to taste it at a decaffeination factory in Mexico (and I did in large quantities). It does have a taste. And, believe me, this taste is very, very bitter. The second characteristic which coffee lovers tend to understand as "strength" is the SATURATION (or, concentration) of the drink. This category is much more measurable, and I must say that professional coffee industry has tacitly (but very confidently) accepted this very indicator as a standard of "strength.” According to the Total Dissolved Solids Theory (TDS), which is well-known in the coffee circles, experts describe it as "the amount of ground coffee solids dissolved in water." In order not to torment you with physical and chemical aspects, let's just say the following: TDS index shows the amount of solid substances transferred from the ground coffee to water after dissolving in it. In other words, it is something like "concentration" of the drink. This category is, in principle, really very close to the assessment of the strength by the ordinary consumer. After all, the more elements from coffee beans is dissolved in the drink, the more caffeine it contains. It is not for nothing that coffee lovers tend to call concentrated ristretto the "strongest" drink, although it contains less caffeine than espresso. I do like the fact that the theory of dissolved solids operates actual numbers, which allows us to clearly understand this theory. However, I am not at all inclined to accept the index of dissolved solids as the parameter of the “strength” of coffee. As I've said, the TDS may rather describe the degree of “concentration” or “saturation” (when it comes to a beverage) or the “power of extraction” (in case of the method of brewing). But in both cases, these will be the characteristics that reflect a kind of INNER qualities of the drink itself. However, the term "strength" definitely implies some EXTERNAL effect of the drink on the consumer. This is why, it is the total ultimate caffeine content in a given serving of coffee that should be considered as the “strength” of a beverage. And this indicator can be calculated considering the initial content of the caffeine in the bean, multiplied by the number of these beans and by the TDS index, which in this case is the degree of extraction of the caffeine from the beans. I think that we do not need to be great forecasters to predict that very soon the coffee industry will learn to measure the caffeine content right in a customer’s cup and will use this technique very actively. To finish the caffeine theme, let me answer a couple of other questions. The first one is as follows: Why does a coffee tree need caffeine? Indeed, it is true that nothing happens without reason in nature. Can it be that the coffee tree was born with caffeine only just to delight the taste of gastronomers?.. The answer is “no”, because there is a very clear botanical explanation for this phenomenon. The coffee tree needs the caffeine, contained in its fruits and leaves, to fight insects. The plant synthesizes it to protect itself from insects that eat leaves, branches and beans, as well as to encourage pollinators. Scientists figured this out by placing various pests and their larvae in an extract from the green mass of coffee leaves. Death of the insects was registered within one day. And concentrated solution of caffeine from the beans killed insects in just 5 hours. The second most frequently asked question about caffeine is whether its quantity changes during roasting. In other words, is the caffeine content in green beans the same as in roasted beans? The professional answer to this question is very simple and practically no expert disagrees with it. Green and roasted coffee beans contain the SAME amount of caffeine. Caffeine is an alkaloid, and, unlike oils (that "open themselves up" during heat treatment), it practically does not change its state during roasting. Yes, there is a nuance in the presence of which we can talk about certain increase of the caffeine content in the roasted coffee, but only PROPORTIONAL increase. It has to do with the fact that during roasting coffee beans lose weight, as the result of which the proportion of the same amount of caffeine in relation to the weight increases approximately by 10-15 percent. But the total quantity of caffeine in coffee does NOT change. And if we compare not grams, but the characteristics of a particular bean BEFORE and AFTER roasting, then the caffeine content in such two samples will be the same. So, in this lesson, we discussed in detail such an important, if not the most important, element of coffee as caffeine. 27. Bean SIZES ▪ What is Screening: In this lesson, we will figure out how coffee beans are measured and how their size is indicated on packaging. The process of measurement of the bean size is called “screening.” Its essence is in the fact that coffee beans are poured into sieves ("screens"), installed one under the other so that each next of them has a smaller size of holes. The sieves are numbered according to the diameter of their holes. Based on the results each grade of the beans is assigned the number of the sieve in which they got stuck during the screening. The purpose of screening is to separate beans according to their size, and the larger the beans are, the higher is their price and vice versa. One detail should be clarified here: in production, the coffee beans are separated by sizes using large industrial machines. And the screens are used only where it is necessary to selectively evaluate a batch of coffee (for example, during acceptance of coffee from a farmer). In the latter case, certain quantity of beans is taken for test screening (usually, 300 grams). After which the beans are sieved through the above described system. In modern marketing, this approach is called "representative sampling" - it gives an understanding of the percentage of beans of different sizes in a given batch of coffee. There is an interesting system used to assign numbers to the screening sieves. The numbers are determined using a scale from 8 to 20, where each measurement unit is equal to 1/64 of inch, or approximately 0.4 mm. As such, “screen number 15”, for example, is a sieve with holes having diameter equal to 15 multiplied by 0.4 mm, that is, approximately 6 mm. Accordingly, diameter of holes in screen 20 is 8 mm. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that recently, in addition to the specification of the processing method or the altitude of the plantation, the producers began to specify the beans sizes on the packs of coffee sold in the stores. There is a couple of nuances here that makes such designations almost meaningless for ordinary buyers. The point is that the screens measure not the LENGTH of the bean, but its lateral DIAMETER. Of course, the width is often proportional to the length, but still, these are different parameters. This is why many non-experts are wrong in this respect: no one really understands that the largest screen No.20 is only about 8 mm, Again, because it is about diameter, and not at all about the length. In addition to numbers, in some countries, producers are using letters to designate the screening results. For example, Kenya has its own coffee bean sizes classification: AA, A, AB, B, and so on, in decreasing order of the sizes. Most African countries adhere to this classification. By the way, Indian producers also use this system. They add the same signs to the above-mentioned basic “Plantation” or “Cherry” system (which are the designations of “wet” and “dry” processing, remember?..) Apart from the "diameter/length" misunderstanding, there is another funny nuance. The fact is that these designations are used to describe the sizes of GREEN coffee beans (that is, non-roasted) which, let me remind you, grow in size almost twice after roasting. So, my question is as follows: what is the point in specifying on a pack of roasted coffee the size of the green beans which has already changed after roasting?.. In conclusion, I would like to say a few words about the above-mentioned Kenyan term "AA.” I want to draw your attention to the fact that this is a “term”, and not a “variety of coffee.” When they see such a sign on Kenyan coffee packs, many advanced coffee lovers, and even baristas, think that it is a name of some particular variety. This is wrong, almost any Kenyan coffee may have the AA sign, because this is just a definition of the bean size, one of grades for the coffee produced in this country. After the coffee is processed, using special sieves, the beans are sorted by size into the following categories: AA - the largest, AB - smaller, then - T and TT (those are the lower quality beans separated from first 2 categories - AA and AB), then - PB - peaberry (round beans), and then - C, which is the designation of the lowest quality beans (such coffee is mainly sold on the local market). So let’s repeat one more time: the АА indication is not the coffee variety, but the grade of the coffee beans. 28. How Bean SIZE is Related to TASTE: In this lesson, we will focus on the relationship between the size of a coffee bean and its taste. But in order to answer this question, I would like first to explain in simple terms the composition of the global “coffee chain.” Its main participants are Producers (or, Growers), Traders, Roasters, and Distributors. Each stage of this chain has its own system of relationships and criteria for evaluating these relationships. Naturally, price is almost always the principal factor. One of the main criterion of the relationship between coffee Growers and Roasters is called "bean size.” In the last lesson, we talked about screening, the purpose of which is to separate the beans by size and then fix higher prices for larger beans and lower prices for smaller ones. But beans are sorted by size not because of their quality. In this part of the chain, the main criterion is production. As you probably know, during roasting, a coffee bean increases in size almost two times, but simultaneously, it loses about 20% of its weight. Now, this indicator of loss of weight during roasting is higher in case of small size beans. To understand this problem better, try to remember what fried potatoes look like, when you cut them into large pieces, and how do they look if you cut them into small pieces. The fact is that large beans are more convenient to roast, and their roasting is more even. The larger the surface, the easier it is to roast. For the reasons stated above, roasters have always sought to buy larger size beans, which made such beans more expensive. Hence the criterion of the higher price for the larger size of the beans. In other words, the high price for the large beans is just an extra payment for the production specifics of roasting. Naturally, the high price for the product is then automatically recharged to the consumer and, when he pays more for the final product, the customer believes that he purchases a higher quality product. There is nothing dramatic about it. For example, customers are ready to pay more for sweets in a nice box than for those stuffed in a simple plastic bag. But the artificial correlation of the bean size with the taste is an improper practice. The buyer must clearly understand what he is paying for. The bean size is an absolute marketing advantage, because visually the consumer will always give preference to larger beans. This is the way the human mind works. 29. Bean DENSITY ▪ Important Factor: In this short lesson, we will discuss such botanical criterion as density of the bean. A great number of farmers believe that the higher is the density of the bean, the better its quality is. I confess that I personally find this thesis very disputable. In my mind, it’s like claiming that “hard apples are more tasty than soft ones.” Yes, the density criterion is relevant for some agricultural practices, but I never heard that it was decisive for consumer perception. It does not at all mean a tasty coffee in the cup. Perhaps, the only conclusion that can be drawn from these figures is the understanding of ACIDITY of coffee (this index is also rather relative, yet it is an index). It is common knowledge that the greater is the altitude of growing coffee, the more acidic it is in its flavor profile. This is why Arabica beans have an order of magnitude more pronounced acidity - as already mentioned, Arabica plantations are located at altitudes that are a couple of times higher than Robusta plantations. The bean density depends directly on the altitude of the coffee plantation above the sea level. The higher the plantation is, the harder is the coffee bean. By density, coffee beans are labeled as: - “Hard Bean” (“НВ”), - “Good Hard Bean” - “GHB”, and - “Strictly Hard Bean” (“SHB”). It is interesting that since each country has its own landscape, the same designations “НВ, GHB and SHB” can have different altitude indicators corresponding to the profile of the country. I repeat that in view of the fact that coffee bean density is an elusive criterion for ordinary coffee lovers, for farmers it i really a very important parameter. So important that some producing countries even consider it the top criterion of the entire classification of their coffee industry. 30. DEFECTS of Green Coffee Beans : In this lesson, we'll take a look at the defects that may exist in the green coffee beans. Let's start with the main thing toknow: from the consumer’s point of view, all defects fall into two categories: 1. Those that AFFECT the taste of coffee. 2. Those that DO NOT AFFECT the taste of coffee. International classification is not based just on these criteria, but it corresponds to them in general. In principle, the global coffee traders try to follow two standards. These are commodity exchange standards (of which the most widespread are the standards of the "Brazilian"system of the New York Stock Exchange), and the standards established by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (today - World Specialty Coffee Association). The evaluation system works as follows: they take a random sample of 300 grams of beans from a batch of coffee offered for sale, after which coffee grading expert puts the sample on a table and inspects each bean, setting aside all defective beans. Then the expert calculates the total number of defective beans describing in his report specific defects of each bean. By degree of criticality, all defective beans are divided into primary and secondary defects. This is a very important point. The "primary" defects include mostly the defects that AFFECT the taste of the coffee in the cup, that is, capable to spoil the taste of the beverage. The secondary defects are the faults that do not have any direct impact on the taste, but are important in other aspects (for example, defects relevant for the production process). Both primary and secondary defects may be “full” (when the entire surface of the bean is damaged) or “partial” (when the vice affected less than half of the bean). While foreign objects, such as sticks, small stones, pieces of skin, etc. cannot be called defects of the bean (because they are not part of the bean in principle), they are still considered a serious defect. The so called “Full defect” is the conventionalunit of measurement during the gradation process. The defect called “Black bean” is classified asa full defect. I'm not sure whether the "Black bean"" is considered the worst, but because it comes first in all gradation checklists, the experts began to automatically classify it as the basic defect. The remaining defective beans are assigned certain ratio of relevance in comparison with the “full defect.” For example, “bean damaged by fungus” or presence of a foreign object in the beans are graded as one full defect. But for beans damaged by insects you need as many as 5 ofthem to be qualified as one “full defect.” Subject to the quantity and types of the defects identified, the 300 grams sample is assigned certain grade. Based on how many points a particular coffee sample receives, it is assigned one of the following grades: 1. Specialty Grade, if less than 5 full defects have been identified. 2. Premium Grade - not more than 8 full defects. 3. Exchange Grade – not more than 23 full defects. 4. Standard Grade – not more than 86 full defects, and, 5. Off Grade, which is the lowest grade of coffee that does not correspond to any existing standard. It is assigned if the sample has more than 86 defects. To provide you with a benchmark, I will say that average 300-gram sample contains some 1,500 coffee beans. Bean defects candevelop at any stage of the production chain. Defects may develop during the ripening of the coffee cherry on the tree, during harvesting, during processing, storage or transportation. Based on this, defects are divided into the following groups: 1) Defects developed during the growth of the coffee cherries on the tree; 2) Defects formed during the harvesting of the coffee fruits; 3) Defects formed during the processing operations; 4) Defects formed during storage and transportation; 5) Defects depending on the degree of cleaning (separation) of the coffee beans. Causes of defects are very different and range from impact of insects or fermentation problems to the damage by machinery or improper drying conditions. After roasting, many defects in green coffee become nearly invisible and after grinding their identification is almostimpossible. This is why an objective determination of the grade and degree of deficiency of the green beans is a critical procedure. 1st group: The defects that develop during the growth of the coffee fruits (so to speak, defects caused by natural reasons). They include: - Black bean. It is considered one of the worst defects, because, as I’ve said, it is almost impossible to identify it in roasted coffee. Even just one such bean, if it gets into a cup of coffee, can completely spoil the taste of the drink. And, frankly speaking, it looks scary. I confess that when I saw this defect for the first time after inspecting beautiful and healthy green beans, I said to myself that the “witch of the coffee beans", if she had ever existed, would have had exactly the same appearance... There are various reasons for darkening, and in most cases it is caused by the lack of water during development of the coffee fruits, or by excessive fermentation in plantation (for example, when overripe berries fall down from the tree). - Amber bean. A colorful and an accurate name, because due to this defect the bean really sometimes looks like not quite transparent, oily and hazy amber. Most often, this problem develops due to the lack of iron in the soil during the growth of the coffee tree. In such case, the bean taste is slightly less strong than usual, so the problem is not critical. - Insect damaged bean. As a rule, such beans have 2-3 shallow indentations or open-end holes. Most often they are made by beetle called "coffee berry borer" (it is well known to professionals as "Broca"). Beans damaged by insects give a darker color when roasted, but this does not greatly affect the taste, which is why this defect is categorized as secondary. - Irregular shape bean is a natural defect that practically never affects the taste. And if it is “peaberry” (the round shape berry I described earlier), this exotic defect is in great demand among the buyers. The shell bean defect is a variety of irregular shape grade. Such bean is also called “Elephant’s ear.” - Shrunk Bean. Despite certain artistic nature of the name, it is quite accurate in terms of external appearance of the bean. The reasons for the shrinking have not been precisely determined, more often this happens due to arid conditions or insufficient soil fertilization. Because of these factors, the bean partially loses its flavor and acidity and acquires a somewhat "astringent" taste. 2d group: Defects that develop in the process of collection of coffee fruits are as follows: - Immature bean. Immature bean is a rather serious defect for coffee production and, as the name suggests, the defect is due to the untimely harvesting of coffee cherries. Such beans are called "quakers”. The only explanation for this name is that it stemmed from the Protestant Quaker movement. When being roasted, the quaker beans behave like the “protestants”: they are resistant to standard roasting procedure and change their color only partially, remaining light colored and obviously different from other beans. Due to their immaturity, these beans do not contain enough proteins, lipids and starches for their transformation into sugar under heat. And due to the lack of sugars, the caramelization process, which causes darkening of the beans, is incomplete. This is the key specific feature of "Quakers" and the main inconvenience for working with them. It is more difficult to identify a quaker in green beans, because they look just like other beans, but in roasted coffee they become visible, because they are clearly lighter than others. Due to the difficulty of their identification, “quakers” can be found even in the coffees of the best varieties. 3d group: Defects that develop during processing of coffee fruits are as follows: - Sour Bean This is a serious primary defect affecting the taste. It is the consequence of damaging the bean as a result of under- or over-fermentation. For example, the harvested coffee cherries were not sent for processing and fermentation on the day they were harvested, as it should be. These beans give the drink an overly sour, herbal flavor. I would mention at this point a similar defect called Red or "Foxy" bean, which belongs to a different category and is developed during storage of coffee. The color of the beans having one of these two defects is really similar. But the sour bean has a reddish color not only on the outside, but also inside. If you scratch it, you can understand whether it is a defect of the whole bean (then it is "sour") or only its surface (then we are dealing with the "fox" bean). Unlike "sour" bean, "fox” bean is not a major problem affecting the taste. - Bean parts or Broken bean. To note that Pressed or Crushed bean may also be included in this category. It is important to understand that split or broken beans are the damage that can develop not only during the beans processing, but also during their roasting or transportation. And while broken green beans are undesirable (although not tragic), their presence in coffee after roasting certainly should not be considered a problem (although it is obvious that visually and aesthetically a whole bean looks more attractive than a bean broken into two halves). In green beans, this defect is bad because such pieces can be partially or completely charred during roasting, and this does not always have a good effect on the taste of the entire blend. But if you happen to see broken, but not charred beans in a pack of coffee you purchased, you do not need to worry. This often happens during transportation of roasted coffee, because beans become quite fragile after roasting. - Wet or Underdried bean Wet or underdried bean is another defect that complicates an even roasting of the beans (although it is less pronounced in the taste). It is associated with insufficient or incomplete drying, as a result of which increased moisture content remains in the bean. - Crystallized bean This defect, on the contrary, develops when coffee is dried too intensively. The fact is that in the old days naturalcoffee was dried only by laying out the beans in the sun. But modern businesses are adopting new technological equipment such as mechanical dryers. Using them to dry the beans more quickly at too high temperatures may result in a similar defect. The word "crystal" in this case refers to the description of the bean structure rather than to its appearance, because the bean becomes breakable. 4th group: Defects developed during storage and transportation of the coffee beans. - Overdried bean Such beans are called “discolored” or “soapy”, because the originally green bean really begins to look like a piece of yellow soap. This defect is also associated with improper drying, but it develops due to its excessive duration, and not intensity as in case of crystallized bean. Beans that are stored for a long time or the beans harvested in the past years, have a similar appearance. As a result of such "aging", its flavor profile is specific, the coffee has a slightly "straw” taste. And this taste is so unusual, that such coffee is becoming more and more popular among the buyers. In general, coffee professionals use the term "aging” to describe the long-term (2-3 year long) process of storage of the beans. However, in difference from the wine industry, this is not a typical phenomenon in the coffee business. - Moldy Bean A coffee bean partially or fully damaged by mold visible to the naked eye. It happens due to violation of storage conditions (for example, when both dried and still wet beans are kept in the same room). The defect is very bad in terms of the bean appearance and consequences, because it gives coffee a stale smell and taste. 5th group: Defects depending on the degree of cleaning (separation) of the beans. This category includes various foreign objects that get into coffee during harvesting, for example: - Small sticks - Small stones - Dried pieces of coffee cherry skin - Others (such as pieces of nut shell or leaves) As I have already said, any alien items in coffee are classified as primary defect (although it is difficult to classify as bean defect something that in essence is not a part of the bean). They are dangerous for purely technical reasons: solid objects can put out of order not only processing machines, but also end-consumer equipment - for example, coffee grinders (stones do this almost guaranteed). So, we have gone through an overview of most defects of coffee beans accessible for understanding. In addition I would also like to mention a couple of important professional terms. One of them is "Stinker", the other is "Floater.” The colorful term “Stinker” denotes the bean defects affecting the flavor. Their reasons are different, but any "stinker" is invariably characterized by an unpleasant smell. I think many of you have come across a situation when, while using the coffee from a reliable supplyer, you gladly drink several packs, then open another one, and it tastes very different (for the worse). In this case, it is highly likely that the batch of coffee caught such a "stinker” that can easily spoil the taste of a whole pack of decent coffee. Naturally, this defect belongs to the primary category. The second professional term “Floaters” denotes the beans floating on the surface. As you know, coffee beans can have different density: when the coffee fruit is unripe or overripe, its density is lower than that of a cherry that matured properly. This physical fact is actively used on plantations to sort the harvested coffee beans by quality. Coffee cherries are placed in water, and the ripe ones drown immediately, while under- and overripe cherries remain to float on the surface. They are called "floaters" - they are naturally defective. Of course, the cherries that have drowned may also have defects, but at least they passed the initial "ripe/unripe" test. So, we have studied the defects that may exist in coffee beans and how they affect the taste. And in the next lesson, we will discuss situations when such defects may be beneficial, 31. PEABERRY: Defect or "Caviar"?: In this lesson, we will analyze in detail ”Peaberry”, one of the most enigmatic phenomena in the coffee industry. Not only because peaberry is becoming more and more in demand (and more and more appreciated), but also because these beans are completely different in shape from their ordinary coffee brethren. Peaberry is found in almost any coffee, but several countries around the world are particularly famous for this effect. These beans are found in India, Jamaica, Kenya, and Hawaii. But there is no doubt that Tanzania is the absolute leader in this respect, recognized by all experts, roasters and now even consumers. This is why this peaberry story will be based on my personal experience from the trip to Tanzania. But first, what is this peaberry? Peaberry (abbreviated as “PB”) is also known as “caracol” (the Spanish for “snail”) or “caracolito” – (the Spanish for “small snail”), sometimes they use the word “perla”, which is the Spanish for “pearl.” The full definition is as follows: “Usually there are two seeds in a coffee cherry, but sometimes only one of them develops after pollination. The whole bean resembles a pea in shape, for which it is called "peaberry.” A seemingly simple description, but no one has yet been able to explain the nature of peaberry. At the very beginning, its fruit has two full-fledged seeds. And then something happens in the genetics of development of the coffee cherry, and one of the seeds stops growing, while the other one takes the place of both of them, developing two times larger than usual. In other words, we can say that peaberry is like the only child in a family that gets all the care and enhanced nutrition. It is important to understand that peaberry is a kind of mutation of the coffee that grows on a given plantation. If this coffee is not really good, then its peaberry just partly derives from it (not necessarily for the worse). Likewise, if the coffee is of high quality, peaberry can make it both better or worse. This is the reason for the constant discrepancies on the Internet - some experts say that peaberry is a "weak defective bean", which is why it is less pronounced in taste, others claim that peaberry has absorbed all the components intended for two beans, and this is why it is more rich in taste. You can find articles saying that peaberry is “sweeter” and posts asserting that it is characterized by a “more pronounced acidity.” The contradictions are explained by the specifics described above: everything depends on the original coffee, peaberry is just a slight deviation from the original qualities. Several times I have practiced the exact comparison of beans from the same plantation. I mean, I compared a cup of ordinary (“flat beans”) coffee with a cup of coffee from the same plantation and same harvest, but prepared using the “round shape” peaberry. I responsibly declare that it is impossible to say with certainty whether the peaberry coffee is better or worse: in each case you experience different sensations. I noticed a similar diversity of opinions among roasters. Some of them say that peaberry is harder and takes more time to roast. Others argue that peaberry is an underdeveloped bean and that it gets roasted faster. And others, in the style of experienced barbecue makers, say that flat beans get roasted better than round peaberries simply because they are more convenient to fry (like a chopped steak cooks faster and fries better than a piglet on a skewer). Despite such a polarity of opinions we can confidently say that the taste of peaberry is definitely DIFFERENT. By the way, in the system of classification of beans by size, peaberry, because of its unordinary (round) shape, is screened using a special holes’ sieve. In any case, it is clear that there is no agreement on this issue, and even growers express opposite opinions. At one of the most respected estates in Tanzania, I was personally told that percentage of peaberry increases during rainy seasons - apparently, rains contribute to its development. But just on the following day, when I visited no less famous coffee farm, its manager confidently told me that this phenomenon has nothing to do with rains and that it is just the effect of poor pollination of the plant. In general, it is more correct to regard peaberry not as defect, but as mutation. Firstly, because changes develop at the genetic level, and, secondly, the term "defect" has some negative connotation. It doesn’t fit peaberry - the valuable of the coffee world periodically referred to as "coffee caviar" or "coffee champagne.” Another myth (or, rather, a misunderstanding) is that many experts (by the way, like me in my time) say that peaberry is two accreted beans. This statement is wrong, this phenomenon does not have to do with accretion. Peaberry is always just ONE surviving seed. Due to some genetic changes, the second seed fails to develop properly. Most likely, the misconception that a "peaberry is two fused seeds" arose due to the fact that someone confused it with the "elephant ear” defect, as they call improperly formed beans, when such beans acquire a distorted shape. Americans call them “shell” beans, which, in my opinion, is a more appropriate name, although it is not as colorful as the “elephant ear.” “Mother bean” defect, the case when one of the beans is inserted into the other, may be regarded as a variation of the “elephant ear.” Indeed, in terms of external appearance, they are very similar, but technically this phenomenon has nothing to do with peaberry effect. By the way, I even came across the coffee fruits of an already formed peaberry, which at first contained not 2, but 3, 4 or even 5 seeds, although none of them managed to survive, except for the peaberry. The main question asked by all experts is as follows: “Why is peaberry considered a kind of 24 carat grade of coffee, just about the highest standard?” I think the answer is simple. There is a saying: “If you do not understand the reason, then it is about the money.” It's just that the clients pay more for peaberry, and the demand gives rise to the supply. It seems to me that the reputation of Tanzanian coffee as “the best in peaberry” is due to the fact that this country was the first to consider the increased demand and higher prices for peaberry. If a decima of your harvest is sold 10-15% higher, how could you ignore this fact? This is why, honor and glory to the Tanzanian farmers who managed to crystallize their marketing advantage in the modern world of coffee. It is up to you to make a decision on what is peaberry: “a defect or a genius” and whether it is “more tasty or just looks better.” I think, how many people, so many opinions. But no one in the world, neither coffee lovers, nor growers, nor roasters, will deny one truth: peaberry is different, it is special. 32. Coffee RUST: Biggest Tragedy: In this lesson, we will discuss “Coffee Rust.” This term is used to designate a coffee tree disease creating one of the worst threats for the coffee industry. The scientific name of "coffee rust" is Hemileia Vastatrix. Its English name is “Coffee Leaf Rust”, but in professional circles this illness is named by the Spanish word “Roya” used by the farmers of Latin America. The English name “Coffee LEAF Rust” clearly tells us that the decease attacks the LEAVES of the coffee tree (in difference from, for example, “Coffee BERRY borer”). By the way, the latter disease is also a serious disaster for plantations. Its main factor is a beetle named “broca” (officially known as “Coffee Borer Beetle.” (the Spanish word “broca” is translated as “borer”) This small black beetle damages the coffee cherry by boring holes in it, getting inside the fruit and drilling out there a whole system of channels where the females lay numerous larva that are as dangerous as the beetle itself. As a result, the coffee fruit dies before it is ripened. Farmers fight with broca in all sorts of ways, but one of the most effective of them is hanging on the trees plastic containers with water, to which pheromone is added. Attracted by this smell, the pest trivially drowns in the liquid. Another interesting technique of fighting this parasite is to hang on the trees the same cans that are filled not with pheromones but with coffee berries already infected by other maggots of broca antagonists. When they run into this “borer”, these “doctors” suck blood out of it. As the phrase goes “diamond cut diamond.” But "roya" annually inflicts an order of magnitude greater damage on the coffee industry than broca. The reason for its development is the dramatic coincidence of two factors - the humidity and the heat. On the leaves of the coffee tree, the symptoms of the "coffee rust" look exactly like corrosion on metal: a brown spot spreads over the green field, gradually killing the leaf. The leaves of the affected tree fall off completely, and in this "naked" state it ceases to bear fruit. The worst thing about the "rust" is the absence of practicable means of stopping it. To fight the rust, farmers use fertilizers and chemicals, but this measure is effective only at the stage of prevention. Because if rust gets on a coffee tree, it will not go away until it kills the plant. The farmers themselves say: “If roya has come, nothing can be done - you have to live with it...” This disease is called "Coffee Cancer" or "Coffee AIDS", although, farmers say that cancer can be cured at least some stages, and you have zero chance of survival if your tree is hit by roya. All you can do is to prune the trees to the very foundation and wait for a miracle. The first roya epidemic occurred in Central America in 2011 after unprecedentedly heavy rainfalls. Instead of the usual average annual rainfall, almost 2 times more water (some 4,000 mm) fell on the coffee plantations. But the worst thing was that the rains were immediately followed by the most intense heat. To put it simply, the leaves (the most sensitive part of the coffee trees), like in case of ordinary rust, did not have time to dry off and sort of “steamed” themselves up. Another bad thing is that if previously roya affected coffee plantations located at an altitude of 1,000-1,200 meters above sea level, today it may reach heights of 1,400-1,600 meters and even higher. In 2012, the "rust" killed about 15% of Guatemala's crop. According to forecasts, future losses will comprise at least 25-30% of the harvest. But the biological side of the issue is not the only problem. The consequences of this disaster will further affect the ENTIRE economy. They will mean lost jobs in one of the most developed economies of Latin America and, as a result, higher poverty indexes. Farmers, coffee institutes and associations are working hard to develop new, resistant coffee varieties. The new breeds will be more viable, but there is another nuance. The only method of the treatment is the full replacement of the sick tree. To do this, you need to plant a new tree instead of the old one (which requires money) and then to wait at least 4-5 years until you get the first crop (which requires time and does not generate any income). For this reason, many farmers quit coffee business and switch to other agricultural plants. This trend definitely doesn't promise anything positive for the consumer on the other end of the chain (except for a possible rise in prices). As with cancer or AIDS, coffee farmers still hope on new disease-resistant varieties of trees and new effective ways of fighting the “coffee rust.” But at present this is nature who wins in this struggle. 33. Certifications: FAIR TRADE: This lesson opens the block about coffee certifications. It is not a secret that the number of certifications is growing every day, and their names and respective symbols and design are becoming more and more attractive and catchy. One of the main reasons for demand for such signs is practically total absence of any coffee ratings. On the one hand, consumers look for someone who could confidently and unambiguously tell them which product is better. Farms that are not particularly keen in marketing also crave to obtain the right to put at least some sign on the packs of their coffee. For growers, certification is an indicator of level and quality. For this very reason, when they greet potential clients at their plantations, farmers always proudly announce: “My coffee is Organic” or “This coffee is Rainforest Certified” believing that this way they perform at least half of their sales promotion job. This is partly true, because being unable to convey to the end consumers an understanding of the taste of their coffee (separately or in comparison with other players) they are trying to obtain recognition from reputable organizations. After all, wholesale buyers also often prefer coffee which has at least some certification. Well, let us review the existing certification systems. It is impossible to keep up with all of them, so we will discuss only the most significant international standards. Let's start with, perhaps, the most renowned global certificate called “Fair Trade.” This social movement promotes the principles of fair international trade and aims to help producers from developing countries. Fair Trade guarantees that products with this certificate are produced without any use of forced or child labor and in conformity with labor safety requirements. For those willing to be certified, there is a whole number of criteria related to the coffee production, such as compliance with mandatory farming practices (soil stabilization, etc.) or prohibition to use the so-called "heavy" chemical fertilizers. The main point of the Fair Trade certificate is that for coffee producers it is a kind of minimum price insurance. Even if world coffee prices are declining in a given year, Fair Trade still guarantees payment of a minimum fixed price for the coffee purchased from the program participants - for example, for Arabica this figure was 1.4 US Dollar per pound. That is, when a buyer sees the Fair Trade sign in a store, it means that the grower has definitely received a fair payment for his work and that no one is cheating anyone. I want to draw your attention to the fact that this certification has a very distant relationship to the quality of the coffee itself, and even more so to its taste. Because in this case, we are not talking about properties of the product, but about business integrity of the producer. Justice is an attractive social theme, which is why Fair Trade movement has gained a really serious momentum today and has incredibly extended its product range. Moreover, the system has long gone beyond food products range only. I am sure you will be surprised to learn, for example, that in the UK the Fair Trade sign is used to certify not only schools, universities or churches, but even entire towns. Yes, that's right - more than one thousand cities around the world (including London, Rome, Brussels and Copenhagen) have joined the Fair Trade movement. Fair Trade gives recognition to the end seller and a guaranteed remuneration rate to the grower. This mutual benefit is the main strength and the secret of success of the project. 34. ORGANIC: What Can It Say?: The “Organic” certification is, probably, more recognizable by the buyers than others. Both because it is understandable for the consumer (as opposed to the not entirely clear term “Fair Trade”), and because the word “organic” has a positive connotation and is at the same time synonymous with the words “Eco”, “Bio” and “Green .” However, the certification program itself tries to avoid making any claims about the environmental friendliness, nutritional value or health safety of the products certified by it. In reality, the "Organic" sign only confirms that the coffee in question was produced without application of artificial chemical components, such as pesticides or herbicides. And the absence of chemicals in this case means benefit for the environment rather than for the health of the buyer or the farmers. This is the main point, although there are other criteria. It is impossible to obtain the “organic” status simply by paying money for the certification or agreeing to all conditions of the program. It can be granted only if the subject coffee has been cultivated in a particular area without application of chemical fertilizers for at least 3 years before the certification. I will note that many small farmers around the world are "organic" a priori, especially in poor countries - for the simple reason that they cannot afford herbicides and fertilizers. At first glance, it seems that it is desirable to have the organic certification for coffee in any case, because in that case, coffee will look more natural. This statement is partly true, but we have to understand one thing: why do farmers use fertilizers at all? The answer is simple: fertilizers are mostly applied to increase productivity and yields. In other words, for approximately the same reason why athletes take various kinds of supplements during their workouts - they want to achieve higher results. Indeed, to achieve results and to be stronger (this word applies to coffee varieties too), you need to eat well. Naturally, there are abuses in the world of sports. And where is the borderline between an ordinary supplement and doping in our case? It's hard to tell, because I myself, as a consumer, think that to have the “organic” sign on a product is much more preferable than not to have one. But I am still afraid of excesses in either direction. It seems that the main problem here is the intangible nature of the benefit, because in most cases the consumer perceives the difference between “organic” and “non-organic” coffee at the psychological level only. After all, the “organic” sign still does not guarantee you a tasty coffee drink. I will point out one more aspect of the organic coffee: it is more frequently found in the form of coffee "grown in the shade” (do you remember the lesson about growing coffee in the sun and under cover of the trees?) Just the other trees in the plantations provide necessary natural fertilizers, such as falling leaves, twigs, and so on. And if you want to produce the "sunshiny" organic coffee, you have to invest additional efforts and money, which increases the production cost. By the way, the coffee tree also produces fertilizers for itself. For example, the pulp (skin) removed from the coffee cherries after their collection and processing is a biologically active, or “live”, substance. And farmers usually use it as a fertilizer for the next coffee harvest. 35. RAINFOREST Alliance: Save Planet!: The next certification is Rainforest Alliance. This non-governmental organization devoted its activity to the preservation of biological diversity on the planet and protection of tropical ecosystems. The association has significantly expanded the scope of its activities in recent years beyond its original mission of protection of rain forests, and today it is a symbol of environmental protection at large, something like Greenpeace. The Rainforest Alliance sign confirms that a particular coffee is grown on plantations and farms that regard the conservation of forests, rivers and other wildlife as mission of particular importance. Naturally, requirements to vegetation are the main criteria for obtaining a Rainforest Alliance certificate. First of all, it is required that all certified coffee be grown in the shade (that is, the coffee trees must give life to other trees as well). Moreover, it is necessary that at least 12 different types of trees grow on this plantation, and the coverage of the territory with foliage should be at least 40%. As with all certifications, here there are other criteria: people must be paid an appropriate salary, and workers must have access to educational and medical care. The program assumes minimum use of chemical fertilizers, but their complete absence, as in the "Organic" certification, is not required. I draw your attention to the fact that this certificate, like the previous one, will tell you practically nothing about the taste of coffee. 36. BIRD FRIENDLY ▪ Birds and Coffee: Previously, the term "Bird Friendly Coffee" was used informally to refer to any coffee grown in the shade. But since 1996 and up to date, the "Bird Friendly" has become the official logo, which is assigned by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to the coffee producers who are really engaged in protecting and supporting birds populations on their plantations. The certification process takes about 3 years, and to obtain the right to use this sign you must meet a whole number of criteria, including “organic certification” (use of natural fertilizers only), use of at least 10 different tree species to create shade, etc. And, of course, the main requirement is that all this should contribute to the presence of birds on coffee plantations, because they live only in the areas where other (not coffee) trees grow. For your information: up to 150 species of birds live on the trees that grow on the “shady" coffee plantations. The program requires to allocate 10-20 cents of revenue from every sold kilogram of green coffee to support the Smithsonian Center. Such contributions are used to finance a variety of researches and programs of study and conservation of birds. I confess that I personally really like this certification. Both because of the beautiful pictures of birds on the coffee packs, and because the birds on the plantations always symbolize life. Again, I draw your attention to the fact that the “Bird Friendly Coffee” certification sign is even more remote from understanding the taste of a given coffee than the other certifications. 37. UTZ Capeh ▪ Traceability: Utz Certified is another well-known program. Initially, in 2002, it was called Utz Kapeh, which means "Good coffee" in the Mayan language. In 2007 the program changed its name UTZ Certified and in 2016 shortened it UTZ. Utz is a general certification – it focuses more on the production processes applied at coffee farms and covers almost all management issues on farms and plantations. These issues may include both accounting systems and agricultural practices (as water supply or soil treatment), as well as issues of living conditions of the farmers or environmental factors. The Utz logo on the pack means that the underlying product “is produced respecting all the requirements to environmental protection and with care for the people who grow coffee.” It should be noted that in addition to the "standard set" of values, this certification has another important criterion called "traceability.” This criterion implies managing business and flow of documents in such a way that even in a supermarket a customer could trace the origin of the roasted coffee up to the coffee plantation where it was grown. 38. OTHER Certifications ▪ Sustainable: In the previous lessons, we sorted out the most widespread contemporary certificates, which signs can be found on packs of coffee. But they are not an exhaustive list of certifications - there is a number of other important designations. For example, Direct Trade, which is, to some extent, an analogue of Fair Trade, but this project focuses on direct transactions with farms ("Fair Trade" operates only with organizations and associations of farmers). However, if I am not mistaken, Direct Trade is not an official certification, but a simple designation confirming that the roaster purchased coffee without intermediaries, directly from the coffee farmer. But in most cases coffee decorated by the "Direct Trade” logo is a rather high-quality coffee, because roasters try to choose only the best farmers to supply coffee and require that these suppliers strictly comply with their standards. Direct Trade has a British version called Cafédirect, which, unlike other certifications covering hundreds of goods, specializes only in products used to make beverages, including coffee, tea, and cocoa. Although the term “Shade Grown” is renowned in coffee industry, such certification does not exist officially. However, due to the fact that the criterion "Grown in the shade" is one of the fundamental criteria for the Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly, today, the “Shade Grown” signs are put on the packaging separately from others. The Child Labor Free sign confirms that no child labor was exploited during the harvesting and coffee processing. In fact, this phenomenon is not rare in the coffee producing countries, because millions of children are employed in the agricultural sector all over the world, and this is why many certifications envisage a ban on employment of children under 15 years. Also, we must not forget about the multinational companies controlling so large volumes of coffee trade that they can justifiably create their own certification systems. For example, starting from 2000, Starbucks has been offering in its establishments coffee with C.A.F.E. (“Coffee And Farmer Equity”) certification, which guarantees high quality of the green coffee purchased by the company, payment of fair price to farmers, social responsibility and commitment to environmental protection. A similar program was launched by Nestlé, which in 2005 began to put on its goods the sign of fair certification and quality. However, as far as I remember, this program does not apply to all coffee produced by the company, but only to Nespresso line. The program is called “AAA Sustainable Quality Program” and includes 296 criteria (56 economic, 90 environmental and 150 social factors). 70 000 farmers from 12 producing countries are participants of this certification program. I think that we should also pay some attention to the concept of "Sustainable coffee.” This term has long been used in the professional environment in relation to absolutely any goods, but recently it has been increasingly found on packs of coffee. “Sustainable” is a collective designation falling under one of the major global certifications described above - Organic, Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance. In general, this word is a nightmare for translators, because not only it has no unambiguous translation, but it also changes its meaning in different contexts. According to the definition of sustainability by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, it must meet the needs of modern society without compromising the ability of next generations to meet their needs in the future. As applied to coffee, this means that coffee is “sustainable” as long as the current generation does not take away resources from future generations in the process of coffee production. That is, “Sustainable coffee” is not about some kind of steady or stable coffee, but about a product of certain system characterized by “sustainable development.” I understand that it sounds vague, but I hope that you managed to get at the meaning in general. The demand for certified products in the world is constantly growing. Being lost in today's abundance of commodities, the buyer desperately needs guidelines and the certificates do give him these guidelines. However, I will emphasize it once again - the vast majority of the certificates have nothing to do with the TASTE, which is the fundamental value of coffee. Simply because it is impossible in principle to assess the taste of coffee in place of the person that will drink it. As far as I am concerned, I traditionally give to coffee lovers the same piece of advice: pay attention to the signs, labels and certificates but make your decision only after you have tried coffee - this is the only way to find good product. 39. CUP of EXCELLENCE as Mark N1: So, we have reviewed the most renowned world coffee certificates. But to end this topic I should also dwell on the “Cup of Excellence”, another sign which farmers and roasters put on packs of coffee with great pleasure. To be precise, this is not quite a certification as such, but a label very much respectable and reputable in the coffee industry. Cup of Excellence is a kind of coffee quality championship among the farmers. The program is currently being implemented in several countries around the world, including Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Mexico. At an annual competition held in each of these countries, an international jury chooses the best coffee of the year grown in respective country, after which the winning lots receive the prestigious Cup of Excellence title (indicating the year and places occupied by the winners). Interestingly, this coffee is sold to direct buyers through online auctions only. The competition is known for its strict requirements and very careful selection of the winners - each coffee sample is tasted at least 5 times. In fact, the Cup of Excellence title can be considered the most prestigious award given to the best coffees grown in these countries. Unfortunately, there is no similar contest in the international format yet, but I think it's just a matter of time. Incidentally, of all of the above-mentioned certificates, ”Cup of Excellence” is practically the only label that is to the maximum possible extent approximated to the quality of coffee rather than to the processes or labor conditions. 40. What is CASCARA and Coffee Flour: Usually all stories about coffee are reduced to the preparation of the main masterpiece - a cup of coffee. But is a drink the only product that can be made from a coffee cherry? In this lesson, we will talk about other purposes the coffee fruits are used for. Until recently, only 9.5% of the specific weight of the coffee fruit was used to prepare the drink, and the remaining 90 and a half percent was simply "expended.” But today's coffee industry is becoming as waste-free and efficient as possible and seeks to use all the components of coffee fruits to increase its productivity. For example, the pulp of coffee berries can become material for the production of: - wine, - vinegar, - acetone, - viscose fiber, - honey, - soap, - fragrant substances, - paper, - and even plastic. Another new product is coffee flour, which they began to make from the pulp of the coffee cherry. This flour can be used for baking, it is very nutritious and has an excellent fruit taste. The caffeine content is very small in the flour - it is similar to cocoa. Also, it contains 5 times more cellulose than whole-grain wheat. The iron content in coffee flour is 3 times higher than in spinach. It contains more potassium than banana, and more protein than cabbage. But, perhaps, the most famous and most valuable coffee product besides beans is "Cascara.” "Cascara" in Spanish means "peel, shell.” In this case, this is the name of the peel of the coffee fruit, and most often it denotes the already dried peel. Previously, after cleaning coffee beans, cascara was almost always thrown away or used as fertilizer. But in recent years, many different experimental beverages have appeared in the speciality coffee industry. And cascara came very handy in this line of business – they began to dry it and sell as tea. To do this, the skin is peeled from the dried coffee fruits, or else the peels are first removed and the beans and cascara are dried separately from each other. In principle, on a global scale, a drink from cascara can hardly be called a novelty. For example, the Yemenis have been making such “coffee tea” (geshir) for several centuries already. A similar product exists in Ethiopia, the homeland of coffee, and some Latin American countries also have similar drinks. For example, in Bolivia there is a tradition called "Sultana", according to which they remove the skin from the sun-dried coffee beans, then it is slightly toasted and cinnamon sticks are added. The Bolivians call this product "coffee for the poor" or "coffee for the army.” But for the rest of the world, cascara is, of course, a novelty. Moreover, it is a very interesting and profitable novelty - from the commercial perspective. Cascara producers from Honduras told me that sometimes cascara was sold at a price that is 30-40% higher than the price of the beans separated from it. On the Internet, there are completely opposite rumors: some experts say that its caffeine content is even higher than that of coffee beans, others claim that it does not contain any caffeine at all. Both opinions are wrong: the coffee cherry skin does contain caffeine, but it is 6-7 lower than in the beans. I know this firsthand - as I’ve already mentioned I happened to spend some time at one of decaffeinating coffee factories in Mexico. Unlike European enterprises of this type, the plant in Mexico extracts caffeine not only from beans, but also has a big fleet of mobile plants for extracting caffeine from the skin of the coffee cherries. These mobile extractors are installed directly on coffee plantations during harvest time and extract caffeine from the skins of the coffee berry immediately after it is peeled off on harvesting day. So I know the exact numbers because they showed me measurements of the caffeine content taken right at the moment of extraction. In conclusion, I will say that despite some caffeine content and the fact that, according to its "passport details", cascara is attributable to coffee, in terms of taste, this drink has nothing to do with coffee at all. But the psychological association with the original product allows to categorize cascara and drinks from it into the group of coffee innovations. 41. What is SPECIALITY COFFEE: In the last lesson of our course, we will discuss such a mega important category as “Speciality coffee.” This is probably the most popular but at the same time the most inexact term used in the coffee industry. I have already covered the topic of "specialty coffee" in the course "History of coffee", but it is so important that I felt it was necessary to repeat this lesson here. After all, specialty is the main stream of development of the contemporary coffee world. In addition, this term was originally used as a reference to biological varieties of coffee. So, let’s talk about "Speciality Coffee". I note right away that there are two spelling and pronunciation options for this word: a) "Specialty" – in this version the stress is on the first syllable; b) "Speciality", There is practically no notional difference between these terms. Only the shorter word is the American English version. The New World (i.e. North and Latin America) use the term "specialty", and, respectively, this word is found in the names of all local and national coffee associations of this part of the world. The second variant - “speciality” - is the European version. European association has always been called SCAE - SpeciAlity Coffee Association of Europe, in contrast to the American SCAA, the SpEcialty Coffee Association of America. This difference, however, is not relevant anymore, since both structures have merged recently, and now the single global organization is called simply SCA - Specialty Coffee Association. The currently intriguing world "speciality" was coined back in 1974 thanks to the easy state of mind of American coffee trader Erna Knutsen. The legendary Erna, who later became a kind of icon of the coffee specialty movement, used to import into the States coffee from a number of countries. She was sourcing new coffee varieties to offer to the customers (let me remind that the substance of this coffee term has always been commercial in nature) and she was constantly looking for some special coffees. It was then when she used the term “speciality” for the first time. Obviously, the word “speciality” clearly derives from “special” that means “particular”, “unusual”, etc. This is exactly the kind of coffee Erna was looking for, with the only correction that she still meant "unusual” rather than “special” coffee. At first, it was only about green beans, that is, about raw product. But very soon the term “speciality” began to apply to the entire coffee supply chain, indicating that any particular coffee could become a fully “speciality” product only if it were perfect throughout its entire life cycle - from plantation to the beverage in the cup. 5-6 years later, in 1982, the American Specialty Coffee Association was founded. Now we can say that systematic development of the speciality coffee ideology began just from that moment. However, I have to note that no clear definition of the term "specialty coffee” has ever existed and still does not exist. This is not criticism - there is an explanation to this, but you still need to understand that this fundamental term has not been legally defined anywhere up to this point. Next benchmark is 1998, the year of creation of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. We, Europeans, established our own association a decade and a half later, but this lag had its advantages. While the Americans negotiated a thorny path of trials and errors, Europe took the first steps consciously, relying on the experience of colleagues from the New World. And the founders of the European Speciality Coffee Association snatched the opportunity to use the American experience. All these persons do inspire great respect, but it is unlikely that anyone will contend that perhaps the largest contribution to the European coffee movement was made by Norwegian Alf Kramer, the tireless enthusiast who became the first president of our organization, and, most importantly, who has never ceased to develop the speciality industry. By the way, earlier we talked mostly about European and American speciality coffee associations, but as of today they have united, and we speak about the single global organization named SCA (Specialty Coffee Association), but in fact there are lots of other, independent speciality coffee associations in the world. In Latin America alone, there are dozens of them, there are Japanese and Korean speciality associations, associations of South and East Africa, India, Singapore, New Zealand and so on. These associations exist not only in the coffee growing countries, but also in the consuming countries. So, the European Coffee Association, has always applied more efforts trying to describe the term "specialty“. By and large, those attempts were just as unsuccessful, but we at least tried to work out our own definition understandable to the maximum possible extent. And our definition has invariably shined on the first page of the organization’s site. It sounded as follows: “Speciality coffee is defined as a crafted, quality, coffee-based beverage which is judged by the consumer (in a limited marketplace at a given time) to have a unique quality, a distinct taste and personality different from, and superior to, the common coffee beverages offered. The beverage is based on beans that have been grown in an accurately defined area, and which meet the highest standards for green coffee and for its roasting, storage and brewing.” For a lay person it is less than clear, right? The words are familiar enough, but the meaning is somewhat blurred... It was only later that I came to see that the concept “Speciality” cannot in principle be defined. It is as hopeless as trying to define the state of happiness. For 10 years, I’ve been practicing karate of Kyokushin style, which is translated from Japanese as “Union of Seekers of the Absolute Truth.” For karatekas, “absolute truth" means something elusive - some unattainable goals that cannot be achieved. But they tirelessly search for this “something”, striving for improvement, even though they realize that the final destination point does not exist in reality. It is easy to notice that in the above definition the term “speciality” implies specificity of this coffee at all stages of its life path to the consumer. But it is practically impossible to “Be specific in ALL aspects.” And, most importantly, it is not clear how one is to determine this state? Especially taking into account the fact that even a standard formulation does not exist, let alone any criteria... However, everything becomes much simpler if you try to interpret the word “special” as “different, distinct” rather than “especial.” Then we could say that any coffee that at a given moment represents something special for a given person (is different from what he drank earlier) can be considered “special.” In this case, evaluating each speciality coffee, you will have to find a specific explanation what is so “special” about this specific coffee. But this will be obviously more square than just to put the “Specialty coffee” label on everything you sell, right? After all, coffee does not become special because it is so indicated on the certificate attached to it. It its true because at the given moment of time such coffee really makes a big difference for a person in comparison to the coffee he consumed before. That’s why every country and even every consumer audience develops its own understanding of the word "specialty". Interestingly, some coffee producing countries claim that speciality coffee is about beans only and anything that comes next depends on their properties. Even if this assertion is true, it is true only for such countries. It is sad that even from baristas I occasionally hear phrases like “Only arabica that scored at least 85 points during tasting can be recognized as specialty coffee.” Yes, from baristas, who are at the opposite end of the chain and are called upon to convey to the end consumer exactly the result of the ENTIRE coffee chain. Yes, one of the methods (I emphasize: “one of”) of the technical assessment of coffee varieties is to measure their properties on a 100-point scale - Speciality Coffee Association of America does have such an official system. But this criterion is applicable to green coffee only, and it by no means is the only one. It can be considered as a kind of partial (technical) definition, but in no case it unveils the full meaning of the word “specialty.” For high quality beans alone cannot replace the requirement to coffee to retain its premium properties throughout the entire chain. Obviously, if coffee was grown in a correct way, properly sorted and adequately packed, and then barista spoiled it in the process of preparation of the drink - what is the use of “peculiarity” of such coffee at the initial stages? Fortunately, coffee-consuming countries always start from the end-customer rating. For example, according to Japanese definition of speciality coffee, in the first place, coffee must be “special” in the cup. Which is absolutely fair, because, after its transformation at all stages, specialty product must ultimately turn into an integral picture for the end customer. And one of the most difficult aspects of identification of “specialtiness" is the fact of transience (temporality) of this very specialty. Because even if a coffee is considered a specialty product, then tomorrow it will surely cease to be such. Like any other marketing advantage, “specialty” quality is limited in time. The above- mentioned Alf Kramer used to say: “You must be always able to clearly answer the question: “What exactly makes me I so special?" – using simple words, without complicated, far-fetched wordings and references to different certificates. Therefore, we, coffee market players, must constantly look for things making us special. For if we are special today, tomorrow we will not be such, and we are doomed to search for our winning note non-stop. And this path of “Seekers of the Absolute Truth” is probably the greatest trial and the most interesting adventure in the professional coffee world. There is one more important point. It is entirely pragmatic, because it is about commerce. But money is an integral and essential element of our coffee game. Today's coffee traders probably don’t even know that for many years there has been an appeal on the SCAE website written by the first president of the Association (the same Alf Kramer) entitled “Our origin.” In this small, literally two paragraph long message to the successors, he explains fundamental things - why the organization was born, and what was its mission. I would strongly recommend that young people, and the coffee community in general, periodically return to these instructive and reminding lines - then we will not forget why all this was created. Alf wrote a very simple thing in there: “As coffee enthusiasts, we will be better heard as a strong association than as individuals. As businessmen we will have the pleasure of enjoying an expanding total market for coffee both in value and in volume. We hope to be a “cake baking organization.” The essence of this term is approximately as follows: when you enlarge the pie/market being one of its participants, then a share of this growing pie belongs to you too. And the bigger this market, the bigger is your share of the pie. And yet another very important point was that in the second paragraph of his short message Alf Kramer wrote: "It will be a vertical structure, and we will be recruiting members committed to coffee quality from every level of the coffee chain - farmers and farmer associations, coffee boards, exporters and exporter associations, organizations and media, transporters, shipping lines and warehouses, importers, traders, processors, equipment manufacturers, roasters, retailers, coffee bars, and even end consumers.” Quite so: "and even end consumers". This is who should really be an element of the entire chain, and not just manufacturers, coffee companies and baristas. I don’t know in what part of this chain coffee will become “specialty product.” But I know for sure where it will be determined: at the very last stage. And the final instance of such a determination will be the consumer and no one else, no matter how little he knows about coffee. In conclusion, I will say that I do not know if I will live long enough to see the time when ordinary coffee lovers are elected members of the Specialty Coffee Association, but in any case I hope so. We really need an educated and knowledgeable consumer in our coffee game. 42. AFTERWORD ▪ About Next Сourses: Well, dear friends, our course has come to an end. We have studied the structure of the coffee bean and various botanical aspects of coffee. We discussed life cycles of the coffee tree and looked into such categories as “washed” and “honey” coffee, figured out the relationship between Arabica, Robusta and Liberica, and found out how the bean size is related to taste and what are fermentation and screening, cascara and peaberry. And we finished our course by understanding the role of certification in the coffee industry and the concept of Speciality Coffee - the most complicated term in the world of coffee. I hope you enjoyed this course and it has helped you broaden your coffee horizons and knowledge. If you liked my work, I kindly ask you to leave your feedback on my course on this page. I am sure that such comments will help other coffee lovers assess the quality of the knowledge offered, as well as the quality of my work as a teacher. I want to thank you for your time and patience For baristas, I also recommend my online course "Anti-Crisis Barista - How To Make Money on Coffee".