A glance at the location of the world’s coffee countries quickly reveals that they are all near the equator. This is due to the excellent growing conditions there – above all, the balanced, warm climate with no extreme temperature fluctuations. Brazil is currently the world’s biggest supplier of coffee and produces almost one-third of all the coffee traded on the global market, followed by Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. Ethiopia, India and Honduras are also important suppliers, however.
Depending on the cultivation region and variety, every coffee has its own flavour profile – ranging from mildly floral to richly spicy. Combining beans from different regions creates new, balanced and harmonious flavour profiles in what are known as blends. Coffee-lovers wanting to appreciate the specific characteristics of the individual coffee variety and region, however, prefer single-origin coffee.Coffee countries | Growing conditions | Brazil | Colombia | Ethiopia | India | Honduras | Blends | Single-origin
The coffee marketed worldwide is grown by over 25 million smallholders. As the coffee shrub, or tree, is an extremely sensitive plant, balanced climatic conditions are important for successful cultivation.
The world’s two biggest coffee varieties are Arabica and Canephora, more commonly known as Robusta. The more challenging Arabica variety is cultivated at higher altitudes of up to 2,200 metres above sea level and in an ideal temperature of 15°C to 25°C. The more robust Canephora, on the other hand, thrives at lower altitudes of up to 900 metres above sea level and in temperatures between 20°C and 30°C. The higher the area, the cooler the climate and the longer the coffee cherries take to ripen, which in turn leads to a more complex flavour profile.
In addition to altitude and temperature, rainfall, soil composition and sunlight also influence growing conditions and hence yields and flavour profiles. Coffee plants prefer to grow in dappled sunlight, and this is made possible by planting them between trees in mixed woodland or below shade nets on plantations.Arabica | Robusta | Coffee cherries | Growing conditions | Plantations
The coffee cherry
Pollination varies depending on the variety – while Arabica has no need of outside help, Canephora is dependent on pollinators such as bees. Once the mildly jasmine-scented blossom has been pollinated, the coffee cherries can develop. The first coffee cherries can be harvested after two to five years.
The cherry consists of two seeds – the coffee beans – surrounded by the mucilage, pulp and skin. The coffee cherry is similar in size to a rose hip, and has a fruity-sweet taste when fully ripe.
A large quantity of pulp accumulates during processing – only the stone is needed to produce coffee. What would normally be seen as a waste product can also be recycled and used as fertiliser for cultivation, or even transformed into a completely new product such as iced tea.Arabica | Coffee cherry | Pulp
Once the cherries are ripe – a state often identifiable by their red colour – they are harvested and then passed on for processing. Harvesting generally takes place once a year over a period lasting several weeks or months. In certain coffee countries such as Colombia, harvesting is spread over almost the entire year. The farmers employ various harvesting methods.
The gentlest but most time-consuming way is harvesting by hand, with a distinction being made between picking and stripping. Picking involves removing each ripe coffee cherry individually by hand, with the unripe ones remaining on the bush, thereby ensuring a homogeneous, high-quality harvest. The stripping process, in which all of the coffee cherries on a branch are stripped at once, can result in unripe cherries being harvested as well. Mechanical stripping procedures are generally employed on larger plantations.Coffee countries | Colombia | Coffee cherry | Stripping | Picking
Various processing methods are used to obtain the coffee beans from the coffee cherry, by separating the seeds from the pulp and mucilage. Ideally, this happens within five hours, as the cherries soon start to ferment.
Dry processing is the oldest method, and involves spreading the cherries over a large area to dry in the sun until the pulp can be detached completely from the beans. Canephora coffee cherriesArabica plants and therefore dry more quickly, and are almost always processed dry.
In wet processing, the pulp is removed mechanically from the cherries, which are then placed in water tanks for fermentation, with the unripe and defective beans being removed during the subsequent washing process in washing channels. Only now are they dried.
In semi-dry processing, the beans that have been separated mechanically from most of the pulp are dried in the sun until the pulp residues and mucilage can be removed completely from the stone.
The respective processing method used has an influence on the taste of the beans. Washed coffee has complex flavours with floral and citrus notes, while dry-processed coffee often boasts very distinctive sweet and intense flavours reminiscent of dried berries and tropical fruits.Coffee cherry | Arabica | Processing methods
Before being transported, the beans are sorted according to size and then by density, colour and finally sensory criteria. The raw coffee is then filled into protective sacks, generally 60 kilograms in weight, or into bulk containers and shipped. Defective or lower-quality beans are rarely exported, and remain in their country of origin for consumption.
The beans are tested for quality at various locations before, during and after shipping. This testing can take several different forms, but cupping, in which the beans are brewed and tasted by experts, is particularly common.
The roasting process is one of the most important steps in the production of coffee, with chemical reactions taking place in which over 800 new aromatic substances are released. Anyone who has ever roasted coffee themselves is familiar with the unmistakably intense fragrance that is generated during the roasting process. Coffee beans lose a huge proportion of water and weight during roasting, while at the same time increasing in volume by at least 60 per cent.
Coffee roasters play an important role, and it takes years of experience to decide when the beans have roasted enough. This in turn has a significant impact on taste – and is influential in the choice of preparation method later on. Depending on the roast required, the green coffee beans are exposed to heat for 6 to 20 minutes. Alongside temperature, pressure, time and air, the result is also affected by the type of roasting machine used, with a distinction traditionally being made between drum roasters and hot-air roasters.Roasting process
In the same way that the roasting of coffee beans is a science in itself, there is also a great deal to bear in mind when it comes to grinding. The grind plays an important role in extracting the essential elements of the coffee using hot water, and enabling the flavours to develop. If the coffee is under-extracted, it tastes too thin and has barely any body, or rather content. If over-extracted, on the other hand, it tastes too bitter or even burnt.
The more finely the coffee is ground, the more components are extracted, even in shorter contact times with water. A fine grind is suitable for espresso machines (fast percolation at high pressure), a medium grind for filter machines (slower percolation with low pressure) and a coarse grind for French-press systems (slow percolation with almost no pressure).
At Delica AG, Café Royal coffee is ground in a special three-stage grinder mill and then filled directly into capsules and pads.Grinding
Coffee must be placed in airtight packaging after processing in order to keep it fresh for as long as possible. Oxygen triggers the oxidation process, causing the strength and diversity of the coffee’s flavours to deteriorate. Light, moisture and heat also have a negative impact on flavour, and are real aroma killers.
Cool, dry locations away from direct sunlight are ideal for storing coffee. The type of coffee also plays a role in how it should be stored. Coffee beans can be kept fresh for longest in airtight porcelain, ceramic or plastic containers, while ground coffee should be stored in its original packaging and sealed carefully in order to prevent the loss of flavour when being transferred.
Café Royal coffee is filled into airtight packaging such as our capsules immediately after roasting and grinding in order to ensure that all of the aromatic substances are preserved. Nitrogen is added to directly counteract the oxidation process.Aroma Killers | Capsules
Coffee can take various routes from production to consumer. Café Royal customers can purchase their favourite coffee in stores and online – or enjoy it at selected coffee stops at petrol stations.
Consumers are increasingly taking an interest in the conditions under which their coffee was produced. Both our packaging and our website bear our seals as a declaration of fair working conditions, sustainable cultivation and organic production.
Once you finally get your favourite coffee home, it is time to prepare it. Beans first have to be ground, and this can be done using a hand grinder, an electrical grinder or a bean-to-cup coffee machine.
Ground coffee is most commonly brewed using a filter machine, an espresso machine or a French press. With a bean-to-cup coffee machine, the coffee beans are freshly ground right before brewing.
Single-portion machines are fully automatic, and are like small compact baristas for daily use at home or in the office. At the touch of a button, the water is heated to an optimal temperature before being forced into the capsule, where a brief preinfusion process takes place, and finding its way into your coffee cup as a harmonious ristretto, espresso or lungo with a perfect crema.
Coffee can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, black as a mocha, ristretto, espresso, lungo or Americano, for example. Coffee beverages with milk are also particularly popular, and include espresso macchiato, cappuccino, latte macchiato and the autumnal pumpkin spice latte.
Frothy milk is added to these beverages not only for taste but also for aesthetic appeal – latte art is a method of creating a pattern or design with milk froth. Both professional and enthusiastic amateur baristas have long since left behind the traditional heart and begun producing fascinating creations for us to admire. And they not only whip up these creations in a cup, but also, most recently, in an ice cream cone – a trend known as Coffee in a Cone.
Coffee can also be used to create to delicious and original drinks, both with and without alcohol, and there are no limits to the uses of coffee for in baked goods and other desserts. Why not try a walnut-cinnamon espresso brownie, almond and Spekulatius biscuits or a mini espresso and lebkuchen cake?Pumpkin spice latte | Coffee in a cone | Espresso brownie | Almond and Spekulatius biscuits | Mini espresso and lebkuchen cake