Not All Is So Gray: The Myriad Of Ways The World Brews Their Coffee

A world of nearly nine billion people can only beg the question…just how many ways can coffee be brewed?

Would you try fresh drip coffee poured over cheese? How about local beans mixed with pepper for an extra kick? Coffee is a popular drink just as much for its inspiring of community as it is for flavor, and nowhere is this more clear than Newsweek’s round-up of interesting coffee brewing methods around the world. They hop from the cold reaches of Finland to the birthplace of coffee in Ethiopia, taking a look at all the ways this drink can be shaped.

The Ethiopian coffee brewing ceremony has always been the most fascinating to me: it’s an in-depth process that lasts for hours and involves washing, roasting and steeping in one sitting. That said, I would be a very poor liar if I wasn’t also craving a fluffy Japanese latte (on my bucket list for when I visit the country in 2022). When the news is oversaturated with fresh doomsday theories and depressing statistics, it helps to be faced with the world’s parallel brilliance, community and creativity.

The pandemic has closed down several coffee chains and seen a resulting spike in home brewing equipment. Now’s a great time to get reacquainted with coffee and what it means to you, even if it’s the world’s cheapest instant package with a splash of grocery store creamer. We all got to get our comfort, any way we can. As for me, I’ve been turning to chai tea and hot chocolate until I find home brewing equipment in my budget. When I finally make coffee at home again, it’ll be glorious (and topped with brown sugar).

How do you like to brew your coffee?

roasted coffee beans

What Makes Mexican Coffee So Special?

Stepping into the coffee world is a lesson in multiculturism.

Variety doesn’t end at whether you prefer lattes or cold brew, but rather, where the coffee comes from and how it’s made. Are we talking about hearty robusta from Vietnamese coffee farms or floral Arabica from Ethiopia? Are we doing wash processes or a honey method? If you need something to read while stuck at home, this in-depth piece from Daily Coffee Grind will catch you up on the magic of Mexican coffee. I was fascinated reading about the subtle flavors found in the region, with some coffee tasting like jasmine and bergamot.

As a long-time tea lover, that’s music to my ears. Mexican beer is also seeing some interesting developments for their unique approaches to craft brewing and flavor varieties. If you’re thinking of expanding your horizons a little, don’t miss this piece.

What is Specialty Coffee? — Coffee with the Queen

You’ve seen the descriptor. You may have even drank it but unless you are an obsessive coffee buff, you likely don’t really know what Specialty Coffee is. Specialty Coffee is a globally recognized coffee grade that signifies coffee quality, cleanliness, and uniqueness. To qualify as a Specialty Coffee…

What is Specialty Coffee? — Coffee with the Queen

A helpful and concise post on the definition of specialty coffee, which is a little more rigorous than an oversaturated market might suggest. Even several years after working as a barista and being trained by roasters, I’m still learning just how subtle a single cup of coffee can be depending on what seems like infinite factors. Growing conditions, bean type, amount of defects, aroma, body…the list is quite happy to go on.

Arabica coffee is the cream of the crop, but recent news suggests the less-popular Robusta might have an edge on the competition. A big part of this has to do with its more resilient nature in shifting weather conditions, compared to its more sensitive cousin. It also has a lot of potential for subtle flavor varieties; supporters insist it simply needs to be judged on its own standards, rather than constantly be compared to a different bean with different needs.

Supplement your lunch coffee with some additional coffee knowledge.

fancy cup of coffee

An elegant coffee maker made out of gold, silver and diamonds. Sound like a recipe for good coffee?

Of course not. Doesn’t stop elitism from making the usual rounds.

A new coffee maker has emerged recently, crafted out of the finest materials money can buy. The company Royal Paris claims to bring customers back to an older time where coffee was more appreciated, offering a decadent experience that results in the best cup of coffee. Fortunately for me, I’m too keenly aware of the history of coffee growing, roasting and distribution to succumb to the hype. Sure is pretty, though!

It’s easy to overlook this story as yet more pomp and puffery from the idle elite meant to incite outrage. Last I checked, the very history of coffee itself doesn’t revolve around gilded cups, but a humble, communal experience thousands of years old! Nonetheless, stories like these should concern cafe owners and roasters. This carefully packaged artful elitism is a major issue that keeps the coffee industry from achieving great things.

When left unchecked, these mentalities rot the craft from the inside out.

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a photo of the rwandan landscape

How often do you think about where your ethically sourced coffee comes from?

Not what the ‘ethically traded’ label says or the origin claim stated by the company…but where it really comes from. If you’re rubbing the back of your neck or avoiding eye contact with your screen, rest assured this is a common problem.

Not just among consumers, but among companies and businesses that work in direct trade with coffee farmers. In our whirlwind day-to-day, thinking about just where our goods come from and at what cost can feel like a tall order (pardon the pun). You’re just trying to get through the workweek in one piece! When it comes to positive change, however…now is always the best time for it. From grower to roaster to customer, the journey of coffee is a winding one. One we can neglect on our way to get the most convenient cup.

An ‘ethical trade’ label on a box or recycling claim on a lid isn’t enough. Several troubling developments concerning coffee sustainability and ethical trading have cropped up these past few weeks, showing that green sentiments are often only skin deep. One story analyzing coffee culture in Rwanda — or rather, the lack thereof — speaks to the real disconnect the West has with the rest of the world. Farmers are caught in such a chokehold between consistent production rates and high costs they’re not even able to taste their own creations. To the Western ear, this is completely surreal…

…and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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roasted coffee beans

A cup of coffee made without a single bean.

Sound like something you’d want to try? I took a look at this interesting scientific development earlier on LinkedIn, but I have a few more thoughts on the matter.

Beanless coffee is a (kind of) modern development currently being polished by today’s best scientists. This technique is similar to chicory — a method that involves brewing roots instead of beans — but whittles down the ingredients even further. Everything from the flavor to the way the brew sits on your tongue is meant to replicate traditional coffee near-flawlessly. On one hand, it’s fascinating how science can break down what we consume to its barest components. On the other hand, environmental concerns are cited as a major reason to continue this research.

Beanless coffee could help…as long as the industry’s priorities are kept straight.

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