Delica | Stop & Smell the Coffee | The Journey of Coffee
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The Journey of Coffee

The Glory of Human Civilisation and Culture

Legends of Coffee

Though coffee plays a major role in our lives today, there are many interesting debates about how coffee was discovered. One of the oldest legends dates back to about 850B.C., where a young Ethiopian shepherd found his goats exceptionally energetic after eating some berries. Another legend involves a monk, whose disappointment of tasting bitter coffee berries turned to delight after he disposed of them into the fire, which released the bean’s rich and fragrant aroma. The monks believed it was a gift from God because they felt energised even if they drank it in the middle of the night.

Coffee was destined to conquer the world from the day goats experienced its magic.

Discovering Coffee

The culture of coffee dates back to the 11th century, where it was first imported from Ethiopia to Arabia. The Persians were very enthusiastic about the stimulating effect of coffee, and called it “Gahwah”, hence the word “Coffee” was born. In the second half of the 15th century, coffee was spread to the Arab Empire via Mecca and Medina city, reaching Cairo in 1510. In the first half of the 16th century during the rule of the Osmanic Empire, coffee gradually became popular in Arabia, Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and South Eastern Europe, with the first coffee houses appearing in Damascus(1530) and Aleppo(1532).

Drawing depicting the city of Damascus.

Conquering Europe

The aroma and stimulating effects of coffee quickly made it the most celebrated beverage in Western Europe, when the merchants of Venice brought the first bag of coffee beans back in 1615. Consequently, cafés became a common sight in Europe, with the middle class constantly advocating coffee and its uplifting effects. The fleet of the Netherlands and Britain later on exported coffee to their respective colonies.

When the Turks were forced to retreat from Vienna in 1683, they left behind 500 packs of coffee which were then used by the Polish traders to open the first café in Vienna. The high demand led to the mass production of coffee, and as early as the 17th century, coffee was successfully grown in the greenhouse. A young coffee plant was presented to King Louis XIV of France in 1714, and eventually became the source of all coffee trees in Europe.

Coffee of 20th Century

During the early 20th century, Brazil was the world’s largest coffee producer. Today, almost all of the world’s coffee comes from Central America, Brazil and tropical regions of South America. The world’s coffee production totals about 100 million bags a year, with Brazil accounting for a quarter of that amount. Home roasting – once a common sight found in every household, quickly lost its appeal due to the appearance of coffee on store shelves. A breakthrough was unveiled to the world by Dr. Satori Kato in 1901 when he invented instant coffee, sending a shockwave of change throughout the coffee industry.

Due to its strong demand, coffee is placed only second to the most traded commodity in the world – Crude oil, but this resounding demand often results in overproduction, fluctuating prices and surplus wastage. The International Coffee Agreement was thus established to stabilise the price of coffee. After World War II, coffee became a symbol of economic reform in Germany, and also an object of status and luxury.

NYC Police Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney with his coffee at a lodging house in town.

From thereon we witnessed the glory of coffee sweeping across the globe. Nevertheless the journey of coffee was not an easy one, making the cup of coffee we have in our hands really more than just a cup of coffee.

Get To Know Your Beans

Understand the Bean, Appreciate the Coffee

ARABICA

Arabica is the world’s leading coffee species that originates from Ethiopia’s Abyssinian plateau. It was originally used mainly as a drug, but found a greater purpose as a beverage in the 13th century; and later travelled to Europe from the Arab world in the 16th century. That was when it became the preferred drink for people around the world.

Arabica accounts for about 65%-80% of the coffee beans in the world, boasting a total production of 48,600 tonnes in 2012 with a total wholesale value of about $16 billion. Its premium flavour and aroma make it the only coffee that can be enjoyed on its own.

Coffee made from Arabica beans has better quality than other commercially-grown coffee variants, owing to its distinct taste. The characteristics of Arabica beans are as follows:
1. Thick aroma
2. Hardly bitter
3. Moderate coffee oil content
4. Higher acidity
5. 30% – 40% caffeine content of Robusta

Three of the earlier coffee beans from the Arabica series are: Blue Mountain, Typica and Bourbon, with the Jamaican Blue Mountain holding the coveted title of the best coffee in the world.

ROBUSTA

Robusta—the-world’s second largest coffee-producing species, accounting for about 20% of world coffee production. The size of its coffee berry is between Arabica and Liberica. Robusta thrives in lowland altitudes of 200-600m, preferring warm weather and temperatures of 24ºC – 29ºC without much rainfall. It relies on insect pollination, thus pollination to fruition takes 9 to 11 months.

The Robusta plant resembles a cross between a shrub and a tall tree, having longer leaves with lighter green colour, and can reach a height of 10m. Its roots are shallow and has slightly round fruit compared to Arabica.

The unique flavour of Robusta carries certain bitterness and a dominating flavour even with only a 2-3% blend. The beans have much higher caffeine content, and are typically made into instant, canned, and liquid coffee

LIBERICA

Native to Liberia of West Africa, Liberica has poor flavour and is highly bitter, and is mostly consumed in Europe. This plant is an evergreen shrub that reaches 10 to 15m, with a sturdy trunk, lush foliage and yellowish-brown upright branches that gradually turns greyish brown.

The green shoots are smooth, and the fruit is the largest of the three, with an oval shape and crimson red skin. It is less juicy, and its sweetness is mixed with a hint of bitterness.

The fruit grows in clusters of two to three, with unripe fruit present alongside ripe ones. 95% of coffee planted in Malaysia is Liberica, which has a more bitter profile compare to the other two species. Roasted Liberica beans have a complex taste and higher caffeine content, therefore other ingredients like butter and sugar are added during roasting

Coffee Of the World

Expanding The Horizons of Coffee

Coffee might be just another drink to most people, but it has so much more to offer. It’s hard to imagine that a tiny coffee bean could contain more than five thousand kinds of chemical substances. Through different processing, roasting and brewing methods, rich and diverse coffee flavours are created, that are guaranteed to exceed your expectations. Once you acquire a sense for tasting coffee that’s when the true journey to good coffee begins.

Coffee of the World:- Coffee has weaved its way into various cultures around the world when people come together and learn from each other creating the coffee we have today.

THE CLASSIFICATION OF COFFEE


Black Coffee

Panama Geisha | Jamaican Blue Mountain | Hawaiian Kona | Yirgacheffe Philippines | Sumatra Medellin

Black coffee is the original taste of coffee. It allows us to precisely experience every flavour which is original yet unrefined, constantly intriguing our minds. However, little attention is given to black coffee, making it even more mysterious than its dark, murky colour already suggests.
Black coffee refers to coffee that has no sugar or milk added, be it espresso, single origin or blends.

Aroma:
Black coffee emphasises on its original, untampered aroma. It accurately reflects the process and roasting of coffee. Black coffee has a signature bitter taste that varies in strength and texture. Raw beans contain only a slight trace of bitterness, with the bitter taste gradually increasing as the roasting process causes chemical changes in the beans. Heat affects the acidity in black coffee, changing its flavour and complexity.


Milk Coffee

Cappuccino | Latte | Mocha | Irish Coffee | Macchiato | Con Panna |

A variety of coffee beverages were created by adding different ingredients. Latte art is also widely practiced for aesthetic purposes while flavourings such as milk, chocolate sauce, alcohol, tea, and butter can also be added to coffee.

Latte, Cappuccino, and Mocha that we have come to love are made from espresso and steamed milk topped up with milk foam. The taste of foam, milk and espresso should be immediately evident in the first sip of a good cup of Cappuccino or Latte. The layer of fine, frothy milk called microfoam, should also be as smooth as cream.

Milk Coffee

Cappuccino | Latte | Mocha | Irish Coffee | Macchiato | Con Panna |

A variety of coffee beverages were created by adding different ingredients. Latte art is also widely practiced for aesthetic purposes while flavourings such as milk, chocolate sauce, alcohol, tea, and butter can also be added to coffee.

Latte, Cappuccino, and Mocha that we have come to love are made from espresso and steamed milk topped up with milk foam. The taste of foam, milk and espresso should be immediately evident in the first sip of a good cup of Cappuccino or Latte. The layer of fine, frothy milk called microfoam, should also be as smooth as cream.


Pour Over Method

Panama Geisha | Jamaican Blue Mountain | Hawaiian Kona | Yirgacheffe Philippines | Sumatra Medellin

Life takes a step back into slow motion, as drips of coffee permeate through a paper filter into a cup that waits below. This process though time-consuming, has a seemingly therapeutic effect that will make the receiver of this precious brew cherish every single drop.

Though this approach of hand brewing coffee was invented by a German, it was the Japanese who actually popularised the pour-over method. From the beginning of the 1950s, the Japanese became so obsessed with this method that various drip brew devices and techniques were developed, causing it to flourish across the East like never before. However, this trend did not prevail in the West after coffee machines were invented.

Many variables will affect the final taste, including grind size, contact time and water temperature. Therefore each cup may be tailored to one’s own preference, making each cup a truly unique signature. This method of brewing traditionally uses a paper filter that absorbs certain amounts of oil from the coffee beans, yielding a cleaner and smoother cup.


Siphon

Siphon coffee originates from Germany, and uses pressure generated from boiling water to brew coffee. The design of the pot has two chambers connected by a tube. The steam generated in the lower chamber forces the water up to the upper chamber through the tube, consequently brewing the coffee. When the system cools, the coffee is sucked back down through a filter to the lower chamber and is ready to be served.

A professional siphon brewer considers the weather, humidity, room temperature, type of bean used and the degree of roast when stirring and handling the water. The medium light roast is preferred because the indirect heat and longer duration of a siphon brewer creates a more delicate cup of coffee with a fruity kind of sweetness, instead of the rich aroma and oiliness of dark roasted coffee. As siphon brewing requires experience, amateur brewers may yield an inferior tasting cup.

Because a cloth filter is used, most of the coffee oil ends up in the cup, giving a more complete and stronger flavour.

Siphon

Siphon coffee originates from Germany, and uses pressure generated from boiling water to brew coffee. The design of the pot has two chambers connected by a tube. The steam generated in the lower chamber forces the water up to the upper chamber through the tube, consequently brewing the coffee. When the system cools, the coffee is sucked back down through a filter to the lower chamber and is ready to be served.

A professional siphon brewer considers the weather, humidity, room temperature, type of bean used and the degree of roast when stirring and handling the water. The medium light roast is preferred because the indirect heat and longer duration of a siphon brewer creates a more delicate cup of coffee with a fruity kind of sweetness, instead of the rich aroma and oiliness of dark roasted coffee. As siphon brewing requires experience, amateur brewers may yield an inferior tasting cup.

Because a cloth filter is used, most of the coffee oil ends up in the cup, giving a more complete and stronger flavour.

Malaysia’s Journey of Coffee

THE CLASSIFICATION OF COFFEE

In Europe, Coffee was once dubbed “The Drink of Gods”. As it made waves through Europe in the 17th century, it was also brought into Asia by the Dutch. Consequently, coffee was already a part of Malaysian culture ever since it “invaded” Europe.

 

THE ACCIDENTAL RENDEZVOUS OF COFFEE AND MALAYSIA

When Dutch merchants first sailed across the Pacific Ocean two centuries ago to cultivate coffee in Indonesia and Malaysia, little did they know that Indonesia would grow to become the fourth largest coffee exporter in the world. While Malaysia developed two unique methods of coffee roasting, those have become an integral part of Southeast Asian coffee culture today.

MALAYSIAN COFFEE – KOPI

What makes Malaysian Coffee, or Kopi unique is the addition of other ingredients like butter, corn and sugar during roasting, unlike other coffees that use 100% beans. The Liberica bean that was introduced to Malaysia in the 1870’s has a higher caffeine content and bitter taste profile, contributing to the authentic yet strong and bitter taste of Kopi. A traditional cup of Kopi is steeped in a sock or muslin bag filter, with a generous scoop of condensed milk added; turning it a rich and milky golden brown, while Kopi-O substitutes condensed milk with sugar. A Kopitiam is a local café where people from different walks of life gather and chat over a piping hot cup of Kopi – a unique Malaysian beverage that has caught the eye of coffee connoisseurs from around the world.

WHITE COFFEE

A rustic coffee shop in Ipoh Old Town is heralded as the birthplace of White Coffee. Discovered by a Hainanese coffee roaster during the British tin-mining era in the 19th century, White Coffee was created because his fellow Hainanese comrades were not accustomed to western coffee that was bitter and acidic. He improvised the Western recipe to suit the Asian palate by blending Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica beans, and roasting the blend with butter and sugar. Combined with precise temperate control and roasting techniques acquired from the motherland, he created a uniquely aromatic and smooth cup of coffee, which was later given the moniker – White Coffee.