Technical Terms Of Coffee

( Originally Published 1900 )

HAVING thus far dealt with the different kinds of coffee as to their history and present cultivation, it may perhaps be well to describe more fully sundry technical words which are in common use in the trade, and which have not always an obvious meaning.

Cherry Coffee. This does not refer to the coffee as picked off the trees, that is known as coffee in the cherry, but to the berries which have been sun-dried before pulping. This is more often done in the East than in other countries ; they are left exposed to the sun's rays for many weeks. As a rule, these are only the final pickings and the product is of quite a low grade. They are almost invariably bad roasting coffees, and therefore unsuited for consumption in this country. They are mostly sold direct, or re-exported to France or Southern Europe, where they are frequently mixed with Mocha, to which growth in appearance they mostly assimilate.

Triage. In the cleaning, as previously described, there must of necessity be many berries that become broken. Also it is found, just as it is with all fruit trees in this and other countries, that many berries become deformed or irregular in shape, possibly from rubbing and pressing one against another, or by abnormal growth, such extra large berries being again separated and known as Elephant Triage. All these are picked out from a good quality coffee, in order to make a regular and handsome parcel. These are the berries that form the Triage, and when they have been carefully selected and any blighted or black berries excluded, they meet with a ready sale, being useful to sell as ground coffee.

Washed. This term is not applied, as is the case with sugar, to that which has been in any way damaged, but it refers to the process of cleaning immediately after picking. Its tendency is to preserve the colour, though after a time this is lost and the coffees become quite pale, and, if soft coffees, almost white.

Peaberry. This term almost explains itself, though it may be well to state that it is due to the fact that one of the berries has proved abortive, and hence when the cherry is picked and opened, it is found to contain only one instead of two beans. The one consequently receives all the nourishment which should have gone into the two beans.

Quakers. This is a term used only for roasted coffee. It refers to those berries which, without being absolutely " pale," yet will not, by any amount of roasting, become of the requisite brown hue which is desired. When cracked they have an unpleasant odour, and one berry in a cup is sufficient to materially reduce the value.

Unclean. As a rule, this term has only reference to the taste of a parcel, and without being able to describe it in detail (is it possible to describe a flavour ?) it is such about which there can be no mistake. At times it can be detected in the raw state, berries that are of a certain brown glazed hue, when cut with a penknife, and found to be absolutely putrid in smell, are the unclean ones, and one such berry in a full dock sample would be sufficient to make a careful buyer reject the parcel. There have been many theories as to the cause of these berries, and perhaps the most likely is that fermentation has not been stopped at the right stage, and in consequence they have become spoilt and unclean.

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