An Ethiopian goat herder noticed his flock became rather rambunctious and frisky after nibbling from a tree of coffee cherries – and so goes the origin of coffee. Another belief is a healer roasted raw beans to remove bitterness and voila! Next came the Ottoman empire and Indian Spice Traders, then once Europe got a whiff of its energising powers, our caffeinated civilisation was hooked.
The Coffee Monster, aka Chris Meyer of Black and White Coffee Cartel, at 150 Lichfield Street, has been enlightening groups of intrigued caffeine fiends on the ‘hows and wows’ of coffee, in an aromatic journey from plant to cup dubbed The Coffee Appreciation Project. The main beans are Robusta and Arabica. The best, ripest cherries of the latter are hand-picked only from mountainous slopes of the equatorial belt. However, there are some 48 coffee-producing countries.
The micro roaster, a rather Jules Verne-esque beast, was demonstrated. The aroma was dewy grass, which became caramelised straw. Each small-batch roast goes through an endothermic process, when raw beans absorb heat, then an exothermic process, releasing heat. Airflow, temperature, speed and timing culminate in perfection, via bells and whistles for Africa, and an astute roast master.
Italians gave us our espresso machines, which require a super skilled human to extract the elixir just so. Other interesting means were demonstrated, such as the Cold Drip, a 7-12 hour process in a science lab-like vessel, creating the most sultry, smooth liquor. Interestingly, we learnt the Swiss water process decaffeinates naturally without chemicals, retaining its full flavour – a secret weapon of the coffee obsessed in the late afternoon.