From the Flat Whites of Australasia, to the Butter Coffee of Santa Monica, the dark espressos of Milan to the even darker roasts of Paris, coffee has us all* in its thrall. Some like it milky, others like it short, some like it heavy, others like it light – caffeinated, decaffeinated and all points in between.
But what is coffee?
It’s basically derived from the berry in a coffea plant. They look pretty vibrant, yet unremarkable (see picture).
It would be fascinating to taste one in this state. Anyway, contained within this berry (or cherry or whatever you want to call the fruit) is a seed. At some point in the dim and distant past, an Ethiopian person (for coffee is originally attributed to Ethiopia) ate the nondescript berry, and threw the seed on the floor. The sun baked the seed, drying it out. Perhaps the Ethiopian was celebrating their equivalent of Bonfire Night, thus deciding to burn the seeds. At some point, someone, somewhere, then smelled this this strange burnt crispy thing and thought, “Mmm! A rich roast! I shall call it Buna!” (Note: this is not related to the Lamb Bhuna you might find in an Indian restaurant).
Coffee grows best in mountainous regions (such as parts of Africa, South America, Indonesia and India). Altitude creates better “acidity” (the word posh people use to describe a rich coffee flavour – nothing to do with chemical acid).
Once coffee is harvested and dried, it gets roasted (there are many coffee roasters emerging all over the UK). In Italy they double roast (making it taste stronger yet burning out more of the caffeine) and in France it’s roasted even more (making it very low of caffeine but very strong and intense on flavour). Sometimes beans are mixed to get a balanced flavour (our Verde espresso at the Corner Coffee House uses Vietnamese beans blended with Indian, Ethiopian, Brazilian and Honduran beans).
The beans are then transported to us, who grind them very finely into an espresso shot, and pull water through to create your coffee. It’s a kind of magic – but there is also a lot of history in every cup of freshly made Corner Coffee House coffee.
* OK, most of us.