( Originally Published 1926 )
179 Q. How does coffee grow?
A. The coffee plant is an evergreen shrub, averaging from ten to fourteen feet in height. It bears fruit twice a year. The ripe fruit has a bright red color and resembles the common cherry. The outer covering is a tough hull; under this is a pulpy material, within which are found the green coffee beans, each covered with a thin parchment. The flat beans grow two in a pod, and the round beans, known as " peaberries, " grow one in a pod. Every coffee bush produces peaberries as well as flat coffee beans. The peaberries are usually found at the top of the bush, and are separated from the flat beans after the hulling process.
180 Q. What are the principal varieties of coffees?
A. There are two general varieties : Brazil coffees and Mild coffees. Under the Brazils are included the Santos and Rio coffees, while the Mild coffees include the varieties known as Java, Mocha, Maracaibo, Bogota, Guatemala, Porto Rican, Mexican, and a few others. The Brazil coffees constitute about two-thirds of the world's coffee crop.
181 Q. Why is nearly every roasted coffee on the market a mixture of two or more varieties?
A. Practically every variety of coffee has a characteristic of its own. Coffees are mixed in order to produce desired blends. Thus, if it is desired to give a cup of Santos more body, for instance, Maracaibo is added ; if a somewhat acidy taste is wanted, Bourbon Santos is added; if a particularly good flavor and good color are wanted, Bogota is added; and so on.
182 Q. What are "washed" and "unwashed" coffees?
A. These terms indicate merely two different methods of treatment used. "Washed" coffees are produced in this way: After the fleshy part of the coffee cherry has been "pulped," the berries are soaked in water for a while in order that what remains of the fleshy part may be re-moved ; the berries are then dried, after which the yellow parchment that covers, each bean is removed.
The "unwashed," or what are better known as "natural," coffees are dried in the cherry, after which both the dry pulp and parchment are removed by means of a hulling machine.
The "washed" coffees are identified by the white stripe on the flat side of the beans; the "natural" coffees do not have such a white stripe. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two, as practically all of the best growths are "washed" coffees.
183 Q. Can a person tell a good coffee from a poor coffee by the appearance of the coffee in the bean?
A. The difference between a good coffee and a poor coffee is not easy to detect by simply looking at the coffee in the bean. An expert can tell a good deal about the coffee just from its appearance, but no one, not even an expert, buys his coffees on their appearance only. The expert coffee tester who has spent a lifetime handling, buying, and roasting coffees, would not think of accepting a shipment until he had carefully tested the flavor, aroma, and cup quality of the coffee after it has been brewed. Some of the coffees that make a fine appearance in the bean make a very poor cup of coffee, and some coffees that make a very poor appearance in the bean, such as the Mocha coffee, make a delicious cup of coffee.
184 Q. What is the difference between Santos and Rio coffees?
A. Both are Brazil coffees. Santos coffees are shipped from the port of Santos; they are mild and sweet in the cup, as distinguished from the rank and pungent Rio coffees, which are shipped from the port of Rio de Janeiro. Soil, climate, and altitude are the reasons for this difference.
185 Q. What kind of coffee is the so-called Java coffee?
A. The "Java" coffee acquired its reputation years ago when the Dutch Government established a monopoly of the coffee industry and sold its stocks of coffee, after aging and mellowing them, as "Old Government Java," al-though that coffee was really grown on the Island of Sumatra and not on the Island of Java. As the term "Java" has been so much abused, the Department of Agriculture has ruled that only genuine coffea arabica that is grown on the Island of Java can be labeled and sold as Java coffee. Coffea arabica is the scientific name for the coffee originally grown in Arabia and from there brought to Java. The coffea arabica grown on the neighboring Island of Sumatra and other near-by places is exactly the same coffea arabica that is grown on the Island of Java and is usually offered now as "Java grade" or "Java style" coffee. As the world's annual production of coffee is over 2,500,000,000 pounds and the total crop of coffea arabica grown on the Island of Java is only about 1,000,000 pounds, it can readily be seen that only a very small amount can be marketed each year as "Java" coffee. (The coffea arabica, whether grown in Arabia, Java, Sumatra, or elsewhere, is one of the best coffees on the market and commands a much higher price.)
186 Q. What is meant by "steel-cut" coffee?
A. "Steel-Cut" coffee is ground coffee that has been ground by special steel-cutting ma-chines, which also remove the chaff from the beans. While the steel-cut coffee is usually sold in air-tight packages, it does not make the same rich cup of coffee as freshly ground coffee does, for the reason that some of its fragrance is lost during the process of cutting and packing and also during the time the coffee was on the retailer's shelves and on the pantry shelves of the consumer.
187 Q. What is considered the best grade of coffee on the market?
A. The genuine Arabian Mocha coffee, produced in that district of southern Arabia known as "Yemen." While this coffee is the highest priced coffee, it has the poorest appearance of all coffees; the beans are wrinkled and are quite small in size, in addition to being irregular in both size and color. This coffee takes its name from the former shipping town of Mocha. All Mocha coffee is now shipped from the port of Hodeidah.
188 Q. How do the so-called soluble coffees differ from ordinary coffees?
A. The soluble coffees on the market, also known as "instant" coffees, are made from concentrated liquid coffee from which the water has been .evaporated. The evaporating process results in minute brown crystals, resembling pulverized coffee, which are soluble in either hot or cold water. Soluble coffee varies in flavor with the quality of the coffee used and the methods employed in its preparation.
189 Q. Which method of preparation makes a bet-ter cup of coffee—the boiling or the brewing methods?
A. Coffee should be brewed—never boiled. Boiling coffee and water together is ruin and waste. The boiling water, poured over the coffee, extracts the already cooked aromatic oils, which constitute the whole true flavor of the coffee. The undesirable elements, being less quickly soluble, are left in the grounds. Boiling the coffee brings out these undesirable elements, causes twang and bitterness, and dam-ages the purity of the liquid. Coffee boiled is coffee spoiled—always.