Coffee Production: Sustainability Eco-Friendly Practices Social Impacts * info. taken from www.starbucks.com
The History of Coffee
Dates back more than a thousand years
The first coffee plants are said to have come from the Horn of Africa on the shores of the Red Sea
Originally coffee beans were taken as a food and not as a beverage
East African tribes would grind the coffee cherries together, mixing the results into a paste with animal fat
The mixture was said to give warriors much-needed energy for battle
Later, around the year 1000 AD, Ethiopians concocted a type of wine from coffee berries, fermenting the dried beans in water
Coffee also grew naturally on the Arabian Peninsula, and it was there, during the 11th century that coffee was first developed into a hot drink.
The Legend of the Coffee Bean
Two prominent legends emerged to explain the discovery of this magic bean
A goat-herder noticed that his herd became friskier than usual after consuming the red cherries of a wild coffee shrub. Curious, he tasted the fruit himself. He was delighted by its invigorating effects, and was even spotted by a group of nearby monks dancing with his goats. Soon the monks began to boil the bean themselves and use the liquid to stay awake during all-night ceremonies.
The Legend of the Coffee Bean
Muslim dervish who was condemned by his enemies to wander in the desert and eventually die of starvation. In his delirium, the young man heard a voice instructing him to eat the fruit from a nearby coffee tree. Confused, the dervish tried to soften the beans in water, and when this failed, he simply drank the liquid. Interpreting his survival and energy as a sign of God, he returned to his people, spreading the faith and the recipe
Coffee began sometime in the fifteenth century, and for many centuries to follow, the Yemen province of Arabia was the world's primary source of coffee
Although restrictions existed on exportation of the coffee plant from Yemen, Muslim pilgrims from across the globe during their pilgrimages to Mecca managed to smuggle coffee plants back to their homelands, and coffee crops soon took root in India
Coffee also made its way into Europe around this time through the city of Venice, where fleets traded perfumes, teas, dyes and fabrics with Arabic merchants along the Spice Route
By the middle of the 17th century the Dutch dominated the world's merchant shipping industry, and they introduced large-scale coffee cultivation to their colonies in Indonesia on the islands of Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali
Coffee arrived in Latin America several decades later, when the French brought a cutting of a coffee plant to Martinique.
But when a rare plant disease spread through the coffee fields of Southeast Asia in the mid 19th century, Brazil emerged as the world's foremost coffee producer, an honor the country still holds today.
The coffee bean begins its life as the prize inside a bright red coffee cherry
It takes about five years before a coffee tree produces a harvestable crop of cherries, and each tree only produces the equivalent of a pound of roasted beans per year
To prepare the pebble-like green coffee beans for roasting, growers process them using either the natural or the washed method
Through the natural method, ripe coffee cherries are allowed to dry on the tree or on the ground before the beans are removed by hulling
Through the washed method, the beans are immediately separated from the cherries, submerged in a vat of water, and then dried on large patios or with modern equipment.
Green coffee beans are heated in a large rotating drum, then their transformation begins
After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates
The beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn
After about 8 minutes in the roaster, the "first pop" occurs. The beans double in size, crackling as they expand; they are now light brown
After 10-11 minutes in the roaster, the beans reach an even brown color, and oil starts to appear on the surface of the bean
At this roasting time (different for each coffee, but usually somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes), the full flavor potential begins to develop in the beans, bringing all of their attributes into balance
The "second pop" signals that the coffee is almost ready
Three main regions exist: Africa and Arabia, Latin America, and the Pacific
Africa & Arabia From the mountainous eastern half of the African continent and the Arabian Peninsula come some of the world's greatest coffees. The coffees from this region are alluring and complex, sometimes causing even seasoned specialty coffee drinkers to wonder who dropped the blueberries and spices into their cup. Some of our favorites come from Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen. They have intense berry or floral aromas and flavors of berries, citrus fruits, cocoa, and spice.
Central and South America produce more coffee, by far, than any other growing region. The beans grown here are generally light- to medium-bodied with clean, lively flavors. They are prized for their tangy brightness and consistent quality. Both these features make them ideal foundations for blending. Single-origin coffees from this region typically include coffees from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.
Often called Indonesian coffees because most of the beans from this region are grown in that country. These coffees are on the opposite end of the taste spectrum from the Latin American coffees. They are typically full-bodied, smooth, earthy, and occasionally feature herbal flavor notes. These are the 'heavyweights' of the coffee world, providing deep, sturdy 'low notes' when used in blends. As single-origin coffees, they are perennial favorites.
Coffee Trees & Beans
Like many other fruits, coffee cherries grow on trees
Some coffee trees have the potential to grow to a height of 30 to 40 feet
However, most are kept much shorter for ease of harvest
The average coffee tree bears enough cherries each season to produce between 1 and 1½ pounds of roasted coffee
The soil, climate, altitude, and surrounding plants that a coffee tree is exposed to during growth affect the flavor of the beans it produces.
Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee Beans
There are two commercially important coffee species: coffea arabica and coffea canephora (robusta)
Arabica coffee (about 75 percent of world production) grows best at high altitudes, has a much more refined flavor than other species, and contains about 1 percent caffeine by weight
As the name indicates, robusta coffee is a robust species, resistant to disease, with a high yield per plant
It flourishes at lower elevations and produces coffee with harsher flavor characteristics
Starbucks buys only the highest quality arabica coffees available, beans whose flavor develops fully through the Starbucks Roast®.
At harvest time, coffee trees are laden with bright red coffee cherries. Ripe coffee cherries are cranberry. An unroasted coffee bean is simply the pit of the coffee cherry.
The skin of the coffee cherry is very thick, with a slightly bitter flavor. The fruit beneath the skin, however, is intensely sweet. The texture of this layer of fruit is similar to a grape.
Beneath the fruit is the parchment, covered with a thin, slippery, honey-like layer called "mucilage."
The parchment of the coffee cherry serves as a protective pocket for the seed, much like the small pockets that protect the seeds of an apple
Removing the parchment, two translucent bluish green coffee beans are revealed, coated with a very thin layer called the "silverskin“
While most coffee cherries contain two beans, 5 to 10 percent of the time, only one bean is produced in the cherry. This is called a "peaberry
Buying Coffee for Starbucks
“ The coffee we buy is truly special, spectacular coffee. The coffee buying team evaluates over one thousand "offer samples" each year. The evaluation process includes roasting small batches of coffee and tasting these batches in a process called "cupping." Only a very few of these sampled coffees make it into our warehouses. Starbucks coffee buyers spend approximately 18 weeks per year traveling to countries of origin. The purpose of these travels is not to directly buy coffee. The goal is to continue to learn about coffee and to strengthen relationships with growers and suppliers. These relationships are critical to our future success - they solidify our role as champions of quality and progress at every level of the coffee business. It is because of these relationships that Starbucks gets the first pick of the best crops worldwide. “
Connection to Farmers
“ Our connection with coffee farmers Purveying quality coffees means much more than selecting the finest beans on the market. It means protecting a way of life for our farmers by supporting social, economic and environmental issues that are crucial to their livelihood. Commitment to Origins is dedicated to creating a sustainable growing environment in coffee origin countries.”
Fair Trade Certified
A fair price
The Fair Trade Certified™ label certifies that the farmers who grew the coffee received a premium price above the prevailing market prices. Internationally, independent organizations provide supervision of the Fair Trade system by working closely with small-scale farmers to certify their product. By joining cooperatives, the farmers can then sell their beans directly to importers, roasters and retailers at favorable guaranteed prices. The cooperatives, which are democratically run by the participating farmers, help contribute to the social and economic stability of their communities.
An international leader As the world’s largest private nonprofit international relief and development organization, CARE works in more than 60 developing countries to address the underlying causes of poverty and provide emergency relief in times of disaster. Starbucks is proud to be one of CARE’s largest North American corporate supporters.
Reaching around the globe Our twelve-year alliance with CARE has given us the opportunity to touch the lives of nearly 3 million people in coffee- and tea-origin countries where our support has helped to improve the quality of life in their communities. In 2002 and 2003, Starbucks contributed a total of $300,000 to CARE for an emergency response fund
Starbucks Emergency Response Fund When a disaster strikes in coffee-and tea-origin countries, Starbucks support is there. We’ve appointed CARE as our official agent for disaster response. Together, we established the Starbucks Emergency Response Fund to ensure our immediate support in a crisis. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept through Central America killing 10,000 people and devastating the lives of millions. Starbucks responded immediately with a $100,000 cash donation to support CARE’s relief efforts to provide shelter, food, medicines and safe drinking water to victims.
What is Shade-Grown Coffee? Sun vs. Shade Coffee
The site where Shade Grown Mexico coffee is produced The El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico, where Shade Grown Mexico coffee comes from, is a region CI considers to be one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive. CI and Starbucks support farmers who grow coffee under the protection of shade, creating and maintaining a forested buffer zone around the Reserve. Results so far In 2001, farmers producing Shade Grown Mexico received a 60 percent price premium over local prices for their coffee, and exported 50% more than the previous year. Since 1998, the number of cooperatives involved in the project doubled. Today there are nearly 700 farmers and more than 2000 hectares involved in the program.
Why choose shade grown-coffee vs. sun-grown coffee? What does sustainability mean? What factors influence sustainability? What is sustainable agriculture?
Ultimately, tasting is comparing and contrasting. Tasting only one coffee at a time does not create any context. But if you taste two or three coffees, you can compare them in terms of your personal preference, but also in terms of aroma, acidity, body, and flavor. (A tip: When tasting more than one coffee, always taste lighter bodied coffees first and work up to fuller bodied coffees.) Aroma is the first hint of how your coffee will taste. In fact, most of your sense of taste actually comes from your sense of smell - which is why coffee can taste so satisfying and sublime. Acidity , in tasting terms, doesn't mean sour or bitter; it's a lively, tangy, palate-cleansing property, ranging from low to high. Think of the range from still water to sparkling water, and you'll get the idea. Body is the weight or thickness of the beverage on your tongue. Body ranges from light to full. Flavor is the all important melding of aroma, acidity, and body that creates an overall impression.