A popular beverage, coffee has never been better, more exciting, and delightful than it is today.
Coffee Through History
The origin of coffee is commonly traced back to Ethiopia, although this popular recognition should be taken with some caveats. Some believe that coffeesarabica was first discovered in southern Sudan but did not flourish until it has reached Ethiopia where it was first consumed by humans as a fruit. Legend has it that the real “discoverers” of coffee is a herd of goats in Ethiopia who suddenly became stronger and vigorous after ingesting berries, known today as coffee beans.
Bean or Berry?
Coffee seedlings usually take 6-12 months to grow into trees with fruits that are ready for harvesting. The coffee fruit, or coffee cherries, go through a maturing process that goes from its colour turning from green to yellow or red. Coffee growers link the ripeness of the coffee fruit to its sweetness, and producers have been exploring different flavour profiles by mixing coffee fruits at various stages of ripeness. The pulp of a ripe coffee fruit is surprisingly sweet like a honeydew melon.
Most coffee cherries contain two seeds (or beans), which are then extracted once ripe. Depending on the producers’ chosen processing method, the beans are pulped, dried, rested, hulled, and graded before they are packed and shipped to roasters all over the world.
Full of Flavour
Coffee has been around for centuries, yet to this day, it still remains exciting in that new flavours and production techniques are still being introduced to us. This is due to the versatile and complex nature of the coffee bean itself. Virtually every stage of its life cycle, from seedling to cup, has its own set of factors that influence the final product. Where and how a coffee plant is grown, the type of bean (i.e., Arabica or Robusta), variety (e.g., Bourbon, Catuai, Pacamara, Typica, Villa Sarchi, etc.), post-harvest processing, roasting, blend, grinding density and size, and brewing method, and even the quality of water used in brewing, all contribute to the final textures, aromas, and flavours of the coffee products.
A Natural Stimuli
Most clinical effects and properties of coffee are attributed to caffeine, which is a nervous system stimulant that can increase focus and alertness, decrease migraine symptoms and daytime sleepiness, and preserve senescent memory. Inhaling the aromatic compounds of coffee alone can stimulate certain functions in the body, but drinking the substance makes it quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore accelerating its effects.
Is Coffee Healthy?
The correlation between coffee consumption and health issues has been a controversial subject over the past few decades. More recent epidemiological studies have suggested that moderate coffee consumption (300-400 mg/day of caffeine, or about 3-4 cups/day) might help prevent several chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Coffee has positive effects on depression and headaches and has proactive effects on several systems such as cardiovascular, nervous, skeletal, and reproductive. But as with everything that’s consumed at extreme amounts, drinking coffee may also have some adverse effects to the body, particularly to the cardiovascular system and especially to children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with hypertension. While there is little evidence of health risks, drinking coffee at a reasonable amount is always recommended.
Coffee can be problematic
The coffee industry is enormous and is intertwined with the economic and cultural histories of many nations. As of 2018, 125 million people depend on coffee production for their livelihood, and most of the coffee farms are situated in geographical regions with subtropical climate close to the equator, which demands long distance transportation (usually in container ships when coming from the coffees’ country of origin) to reach coffee lovers of the world.
The coffee tree is very susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, which makes it also one of the most sprayed crops. While cheaper, off-patent pesticides and herbicides help in preventing pests, weeds, and fungi from damaging the coffee crops, they do leak into the soil and groundwater and stay for years. This has adverse effects on biodiversity, the larger parts of the ecosystem, and on the health of the coffee farmers. Consumers, though exposed to significantly lower levels of pesticide residue through food than the farmers, are also at risk.
Choosing organic, ethically sourced and produced coffee for your next cup is a simple yet powerful way of tackling some of these challenges. Organic coffee prevents the use of harmful pesticides and encourages socially and environmentally sustainable farming practices, which includes growing them in the shadows of other trees. This method supports a climate-resilient production that sinks the carbon emissions. The Swedish Society of Nature Conservation reported that organic coffee only emits a third of what conventional coffee does.
Sjöstrand only used organic Arabica beans that are always climate-compensated to at least 110% of the carbon emissions that our coffee lets out in its entire life cycle.