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Coffee & Tea | So Many Comparisons
Posted by Kim Thompson on

Coffee & Tea | So Many Comparisons

Were you aware of how many similarities there are between two of our favorite beverages?  Whether you are on the coffee team or the tea team, there are many remarkable comparisons and a healthy respect for both beverages seem to go hand in hand:

  • Dating back to the 3rd Century AD, tea was first consumed as a medicinal beverage in China. Merchants and priests introduced it to Europe in the 16th century with the UK being the last European country to adopt tea drinking
  • The first credible evidence of coffee drinking appears from Sufi shrines located in Yemen in the 15th century, although as early as the 9th century an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi first noticed his goats became excited and frisky after eating the cherries and beans of the coffee tree
  • Both have very complex historical journeys spanning over many cultures and thousands of years
  • Tea is the made from the leaf of an evergreen shrub (Camellia Sinensis family), that is native to East Asia
  • Worldwide, after water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage
  • Both tea and coffee are consumed after steeping in boiled water, and attention to detail with the brewing methods details water temperature, steeping time, the grams of leaves or beans, and the volume of water
  • The importance in the quality of water chemistry greatly impacts the final potential of both beverages
  • Both tea and coffee have commercial and specialty grades that directly correspond to the quality and pricing, and both tea and coffee are traded on the commodities market
  • Caffeine is only one chemical ingredient (there are more than 1000 chemical compounds in tea and coffee) with the amount varying depending on variety and method of brewing. Brewed coffee has more caffeine than espresso, and black tea has more caffeine than green tea
  • There are more than 100 varieties of the coffee plant, but the two main varieties are Arabica and Robusta

 

ARABICA

ROBUSTA

Greater positive aromas and flavors

More earthy flavors

Less caffeine

Double the caffeine of Arabica

Grows at higher altitudes

Grows at sea level

Thrives in volcanic soil

Hardier variety (disease resistance)

More expensive to farm and less yield

Greater crop yield

60% of the world’s coffee

40% of the world’s coffee

Prefers shade

Grows in full sun

Brazil is the largest producer

Vietnam is the largest producer

 

  • Both Specialty tea and coffee are picked by hand, mostly by women
  • Tea is harvested 3 to 4 times per year, with the freshest top leaves/buds plucked
  • Coffee is harvested once per year when the cherry is ripe and red
  • Processing methods distinctly impact the tastes of both tea and coffee

 

 

COFFEE PROCESSING METHODS:

The two main methods for removing the coffee beans (seeds)from the coffee cherry are, washed / wet and natural/dry processed. 

Washed or wet processed is the most common and popular method.  First, the freshly picked ripe coffee cherries are washed, and floaters or defected coffees are skimmed off and sold separately.   The cherries are then pulped with the outer fruity section of the cherry removed from the internal seeds.  The coffee seeds/beans are then soaked in clean water fermentation tanks.  The next stage is the drying phase where the seeds which are still in parchment, dried to around 11 – 13% moisture.  Washed coffee flavors are considered to have more clarity and vibrancy. 

Dry or natural processed coffee is an increasingly common processing method and usually in a country where water is a valuable commodity, and when the full coffee cherry is dried intact and milled once the same 11 – 13% moisture has been reached.  Natural coffees tend to have more predominant fruity flavors as the internal coffee beans have been exposed for longer to the natural sugars of the fruit.  Natural coffee flavors have big bodies with nice big ripe fruit jammy notes.

Honey or pulped natural processed coffee is when the freshly picked coffee cherries and passed through the hulling machine (the same as washed processed coffee) but instead of soaking in fermentation tanks so there are some mucilage and fruit that is left on the beans, that are then dried in the same style as the washed coffees.  Honey processed coffees have to be dried very carefully, with the end result presenting with added complexity.

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