Coffee

The good, the bad and the bland. Coffee buyers divide the world's coffee production into three very broad categories:

  • High grown milds
  • Brazils (misleading category)
  • Robustas

ImageHigh grown milds

Arabica coffees grown at altitudes over 3,000 feet, usually higher. Such coffees are generally superior to coffees grown at lower altitudes. The term high-grown is also used in many Latin American grade descriptions.

Brazils

One of the world's most complicated coffee origins. Most Brazil coffee is carelessly picked and primitively processed, and is not a factor in the specialty trade. The best (usually dry-processed Bourbon Santos) can be a wonderfully deep, complex, sweet coffee particularly appropriate for espresso. Almost all Brazil coffee is relatively low-grown, but the variety of processing methods (wet method, dry method, and semi-dry or pulped natural method) makes Brazil a fascinating origin.

Robusta, Coffea Canephora.  

Currently the only significant competitor among cultivated coffee species to Coffea arabica. Robusta produces about 30% of the world's coffee. It is a lower-growing, higher-bearing tree that produces full-bodied but bland coffee of inferior cup quality and higher caffeine content than Coffea arabica. It is used as a basis for blends of instant coffee, and for less expensive blends of preground commercial coffee. It is not a factor in the specialty coffee trade except as a body-enhancing component in some Italian-style espresso blends. See also Coffea Arabica.

Adapted from Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying; Espresso: Ultimate Coffee; and Home Coffee Roasting: Romance & Revival. St. Martin's Press.
Copyright © 1996, 2001 by Kenneth Davids. All Rights Reserved.

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