Understand more about coffee from its source, the coffee bean itself as Aishah Azali interviews local coffee experts and distributors to find out the lowdown on coffee beans as well as the home equipment to brew them. You’ll be making that cup of Joe at home after reading this.
Accessibility to coffee is simple nowadays due to the demand and the many cafes and coffee chains that dot every corner. Baristas with their meticulous brewing methods and dexterous hands for shaping swans and pandas on your latte make the drinking of coffee at cafes enjoyable. But how much do we know about coffee? Let us explore the humble coffee bean and where to find some of the best in town. Plus we have little extra on the starter kit for home coffee brewing equipments.
Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?
Coffee beans grow optimally in tropical weather and there is a wide area on the southern hemisphere of earth called ‘The Coffee Belt’ where a majority of coffee beans are grown. The type of coffee bean, the soil that it grows in as well as the altitude creates the diverse taste of coffee. Countries like Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam and Indonesia are some of the major producers of coffee beans. The two most commonly consumed coffee bean types are Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica vs Robusta
Arabica coffee beans (Coffea Arabica) are considered superior in taste compared to Robusta with a smoother sweeter taste with hints of chocolate and fruity notes. 75% of the coffee produced in the world is Arabica with Brazil being the largest producer.
Robusta coffee beans (Coffea Canephora) are a stronger type of bean with a bitterer and heartier flavour. It is easier to grow as it is resistant to disease and can grow at lower altitudes and in higher temperatures. Vietnam is the motherland of Robusta coffee beans which is known to have twice the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica coffee beans.
Natural vs Washed Process
A natural or dry process coffee is the oldest method of processing. This is when the entire coffee cherry is left intact during the drying process. Because the fermentation happens with the cherries, it draws more flavour from natural sugars within that create a more fruity flavour coffee bean.
Washed coffee or the wet process is when the outer layer of the newly picked coffee cherry is removed or de-pulped. It is then allowed to dry and ferment without the outer skin. Afterwards, the rest of the layers are removed through washing that eventually creates a more complex and acidic flavour.
Coffee Beans in Malaysia
I talked to two coffee distributors in Malaysia to know more about where they source their coffee beans, the roasting process of it and what make them so special. Bean Shipper is a local website that sells coffee beans from local coffee roasters. This means the raw coffee beans are imported but are blended, roasted and packaged by local companies. Founder Tan started Bean Shipper in 2015 by sourcing from The Hub, Collective and BEAM.
Tan also blends and packages his own blend under the Bean Shipper brand. Shipper Blend has smooth dark cocoa and white magnolia notes from Brazilian, Guatemalan and Tanzania beans while the Purveyor is a stronger blend made from beans grown in Indonesia and Colombia. It pairs well with milk for latte lovers.
A company that aims to serve the best of coffee to Malaysians while keeping a heart of gold in giving back is Cloud Catcher. They work closely with Project Origin to get the best coffee beans while giving a good rate to the farmers that grow them.
The beans are shipped from places like Honduras, Ethiopia and India where they roast it in their own roaster, monitoring it to perfection. Chances you have drunk their brew as they distribute to some popular cafes in KL like Kopenhagen in Mont Kiara and Whisk in Petaling Jaya. Their website features seasonal and single origin blends with a full guide on the tasting notes and best brewing methods.
The folks at Cloud Catcher gave some great advice when it comes to buying coffee beans. The greatness of coffee comes from its aroma so best to buy the beans whole and grind them just before you brew it. For people without a grinder, check when the coffee is roasted and ground when buying from speciality coffee places to have an idea on the expiry of its freshness.
Home & Travel Brewing Equipment
Espro Travel Press
Brew a fresh cup anywhere you go by filling the coffee grounds (18-20 grams) in the press, adding hot water and letting it steep for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, press the plunger down gently and your coffee is ready.
Make your own filtered coffee using this contraption by placing filter paper inside, put coffee grounds in and slowly add in hot water.
The easiest and portable way to extract coffee via the immersion method is through this accessory. Add your ground coffee in followed by water. Stir a little before putting on the cap. Invert the Aeropress to be placed on top of your mug and press down till all the coffee exits.
Facts & Tips on Coffee Beans
• 35-40 days after roasting is the freshest time to consume your coffee. It will not go bad after that but the notes will be less distinct
• Unroasted coffee beans are also the freshest up to one year after processing. After that time frame, the embryo inside it dies which will cause lack of taste
• Store coffee beans in an airtight container away from the sunlight
• Use good water when brewing with a temperature range of 92-96 degrees
Words by Aishah Azali