In your kitchen, you have an entire shelf or kitchen counter that contain some or all of the following: burr grinder, scale, timer, kettle and thermometer. Each utensil is vital to your coffee-making process. Burr grinders are a favorite among coffee snobs because this type of grinder compared to blade grinders give you a well uniform size ground and more control over the grind than you do with a blade. What about a scale? Coffee drinkers use a scale because most coffee brew guides use the 1:17 ratio. Without having a scale to weigh out the perfect amounts, you’re missing out on a well-balanced cup. Too much water and too little coffee will result in over-extraction. Your coffee will be bitter, you won’t drink it, and then you’ll fall asleep at work.For example, when using a Chemex for your pour over, a timer allows you to let the coffee sit until your timer reads 45 seconds. This step is called coffee blooming. Hot water forces the coffee to release trapped gases, leading to expansion of the coffee bed, bubbling at the surface, and wonderful aromas are released for you to enjoy.A thermometer allows you to better control and maintain your ideal brewing temperature. The ideal temperature to brew coffee is actually lower than the temperature water boils at, which is 212 degrees (100 degrees C).
Depending on the variety, it will take approximately 3 or 4 years for the newly planted coffee trees to begin to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested. In most countries, the coffee crop is picked by hand, a labor-intensive and difficult process, though in places like Brazil, where the landscape is relatively flat and the coffee fields immense, the process has been mechanized. Whether picked by hand or by machine, all coffee is harvested in one of two ways:Strip Picked – the entire crop is harvested at one time. This can either be done by machine or by hand. In either case, all of the cherries are stripped off of the branch at one time.Selectively Picked – only the ripe cherries are harvested and they are picked individually by hand. Pickers rotate among the trees every 8 – 10 days, choosing only the cherries, which are at the peak of ripeness. Because this kind of harvest is labor intensive, and thus more costly, it is used primarily to harvest the finer Arabica beans.In most coffee-growing countries, there is one major harvest a year; though in countries like Colombia, where there are two flowerings a year, there is a main and secondary crop. A good picker averages approximately 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherry a day, which will produce 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. At the end of a day of picking, each worker’s harvest is carefully weighed and each picker is paid on the merit of his or her work. The day’s harvest is then combined and transported to the processing plant.
Strictly High Grown, usually abbreviated SHG, is defined as coffee grown above 4,000 feet. It shares meaning with Strictly Hard Bean which is abbreviated SHB. The altitude at which the coffee is grown contributes significantly to a coffee flavor profile. Coffee beans grown at higher elevations go through a slower bean development, resulting in more nutrients being delivered to the coffee and therefore a more nutrient-dense bean, which means more flavor! Grading coffee in each country is done through a different process, as to a Strictly High Grown (SHG), designation in Guatemala signifies coffee grown at or above 4500 feet.
Fair Trade Standards Coffee is purchased exclusively from cooperatives. A predetermined minimum price per pound is paid to the cooperative. Access to credit provided by the roaster. Price premium promotes community development. Child labor, forced labor, and workplace discrimination are prohibited. Growing practices that promote environmental sustainability are required. Certification provides transparency of relations between buyers and cooperatives. Direct Trade Principles Coffee purchased from a range of farm structures and individuals farmers. Price paid per pound goes directly to the farmer. A close relationship with producers improve quality and increase value. Direct, ongoing, sustained contact between buyer and producers. Improves economic sustainability of small farms and producers. Guarantee social sustainability of producers. Encourage environmental sustainability and community development. Complete transparency. Related links: http://www.pbs.org/food/features/lexicon-of-sustainability-fair-trade-vs-direct-trade/