Since the ancient times- about thousands of years past- when coffee was first discovered- the taste for coffee has been passed down through several generations and has been refined with every evolution.
Today, an average of 2 billion cups are consumed daily all across the globe, making coffee the most popular drink in the world.
It is so important that it’s become one of the most valuable exports in the world, in fact, almost as important as oil. Most people depend on it to get their bodies functional throughout the day.
This is why knowing the journey the coffee seed takes from plant to cup is essential, especially as you’d want to know what’s safe for you.
A brief history of Coffee beans
Table of Contents
Studies from archeological evidence have shown that coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia around 600 Ad or even further back. Popular folklore claimed that an Ethiopian goat herder noticed his goats’ fondness for coffee berries, and decided to try them out himself. After witnessing the stimulating effect of the coffee plant, he started consuming it by grinding the beans with animal fat.
At first, coffee was not enjoyed for its flavor, it was used as a supplement or nutritional source, but the Turks changed the way coffee was taken. They were the first people to enjoy it mainly for its flavor as they were constantly adding spices like anise and cinnamon to enhance its taste.
The Turkish people were also the first to roast the beans over fires and then brew the crushed, roasted beans in water. In the 15th century, they also opened the first coffee shop in the world known as Constantinople (at the time) in Istanbul.
The Dutch were the first people to cultivate and transport coffee to other countries for commercial purposes. With the coffee beans they smuggled out of Arabia, they established plantations in their colonies in Java and Ceylon and shipped the harvested seeds to other parts of the world to boost their economic value. To date, this has made Indonesia the third world’s largest producer of coffee.
In the 17th century, Europe discovered a taste for coffee, and in England, it became more popular than tea. Coffee was used as an antidote to curb the widespread alcoholism at that time. Coffee houses began to spring up in places like Vienna, Paris, and London which were frequently visited by the elites.
From Ethiopia to Yemen, and then Europe, America, Africa, Asia, and all across the globe, the love for coffee continues to grow and has made it the most popular beverage in the world.
How coffee is produced
Coffee didn’t start as the processed, roasted coffee bean you grind. It actually begins its journey as an unremarkable seed that’s planted into the ground.
Coffee plants usually take 2 to 5 years to grow into maturity by producing little cherries. Inside each one lies two green coffee beans.
Regions produced different variations of coffee seeds. No two seeds planted in different places taste the same. Several factors such as soil bacteria, water, plant genetics, climate, soil structure, and so on contribute to the different tastes in the coffee beans.
To get the best out of their coffee fields, farmers carefully monitor their crops, adjust fertilizers, prune plants, adapt water cycles, and rotate fields every other decade. They do all they can to nurture their plants even as they try different ways to bring the best tasting coffee to the table.
All the aromas and flavors you get from the coffee bean starts from the farm.
During the harvest, most farms employ several trained seasonal workers to collect the ripe cherries for processing. The harvest time for many people across the globe signifies food in their bellies.
How Coffee is Processed
After the ripe cherries have been harvested, the coffee beans will be extracted from the cherries.
There are 3 major ways coffee beans can be processed, but every farm or processing station adds its own style, depending on the resources at hand and the goal they want to achieve.
The Natural Method.
This method is also known as the dry out Method. Whole cherries are spread upon raised beds or massive patios under the sun for about 4 weeks to dry. The dry out time may increase or reduce depending on the climate.
When this process is complete, special machines are used to separate the dried cherry from the coffee bean.
Because the coffee bean is allowed to stay in the cherry for longer periods while drying, the flavors tend towards wild fruit, heavy body, mildly acidic, or floral aromas.
The Washed-out Method
On the other hand, the washed-out method entails immediate processing which also affects the flavor of the coffee bean.
After harvesting, the cherry skin is pulped away immediately, leaving behind the beans still encased in a sticky sweet mucilage.
It is further fermented in water for up to 3 days, after which the mucilage is easily washed away. Then the beans are dried out under the sun or with drying machines for another couple of days.
Since the beans didn’t have much contact time with the cherries during processing, their natural flavor pops out more with a brighter acidic note.
The Honey Method
There are different variations of this method but the most important part is caramelizing the mucilage surrounding the seeds.
Just like the washed-out method, the cherry skin is pulped out of the seed, leaving the sticky sweet mucilage to surround the coffee bean but this is where the similarities end.
Unlike the former method where the seed has to be further fermented to rid the beans of the mucilage, here the coffee beans are allowed to dry under the sun with the mucilage.
After a couple of days, the sugars in the pulp caramelize and turn into a dark yellow color.
The honey method tends to produce a noticeably sweet coffee with medium acidity. The coffee flavor is a sweet middle ground between the natural and the washed-out method.
After the drying process, the beans which are 10-12% dried can now be stored or shipped to other countries.
Transporting the Coffee Bean
As more people acquire a taste for coffee, the demand for it grows and farmers are learning better ways to protect their unique coffee flavor while on transit.
One major challenge that comes up with the transportation of coffee seeds is moisture buildup.
As the beans travel for days over the ocean, they may absorb a lot of moisture which would encourage mold, thereby distorting the natural flavor of the coffee bean.
To solve this problem, some exporters have come up with special bags to transport the beans and keep moisture away. Some of these bags are specially made to maintain the temperature inside them for months at a time. This kind of storage bag reduces the risk of moisture buildup and insect infestations much better than burlap.
Fortunately, our coffees never stay in transit for more than a few days, so that we can preserve their diverse, unique flavor.
The processing of the coffee seeds does not end with drying the seeds; there is the roasting process to be done. Roasting green coffee seeds is not what produces its flavor, it is merely enhancing or developing the aromas locked within the seed.
Coffee roasting demands a lot of patience and ingenuity to unlock the delicate flavors that come with each bean.
A change in the humidity, temperature degree, airflow, and time can affect the coffee flavor while it’s yet in the roaster.
These changes are what give a coffee the stellar, sweet, juicy, or bland taste it has.
This is why specialists who roast the coffee are seen as craftsmen. They use all their senses and tools to develop and protect the flavors of each coffee.
In this part of the journey, a lot of things can go wrong, that’s why some roasters end up tampering with the unique flavor of the beans, rather than enhance it.
It’s important to find the perfect balance for the variables involved in the roasting to get a deeply satisfying and delicious cup of coffee.
The final journey of the coffee from seed to cup is the brewing process. This process can be done through french presses, espresso machines, pour-over-cones, etc.
Just like other processes, a lot can go wrong here.
Water too hot can produce bitter coffee. Water too cold can produce weak and sour coffee. Too much calcium in the water can mute the unique flavors that come with the bean. Different ground sizes and the coffee won’t brew with balance.
A specially brewed cup of coffee would have to pass through all its processes with little or no mistakes to make a sweet, rich balanced mug.
French Vanilla Coffee
French vanilla coffee is referred to by some as the “creme de la creme” for coffee flavors. French Vanilla coffee is a blend of coffee, vanilla, and cream, making for a sweet and unforgettable taste when drunk.
This drink is an excellent option for individuals on a weight loss journey such as keto. A single serving consisting of one cup of french vanilla coffee powder has about five calories.
Who is it for?
This flavor of coffee is ideal for those who do not like coffee with its usual strong taste. Thanks to the vanilla and cream, you still have your coffee, but with a punch of creaminess and sweetness.
When made correctly, French Vanilla coffee does not come out bitter. If you have a sweet tooth and drink coffee, this is definitely for you.
- Great taste
- Easy to make and does not require so many ingredients
- Not too big on calories
- Might not sit well with those who like bitter-tasting coffee
Hazelnut Flavored Coffee
Hazelnut coffee is another favorite of ours when it comes to the flavor department. Thanks to a blend of coffee, coconut, French vanilla, and hazelnut, an unforgettable taste is created. The coffee gotten from this combination creates a creamy treat not to be forgotten in a hurry.
All elements blend seamlessly to give a cup of coffee with a nut-like flavor taste. Hazelnut coffee is available in packs of different sizes and k-cups for those who don’t have the luxury of time when brewing coffee.
Who is it for?
Hazelnut coffee is an excellent choice for those who do not want too sweet or bitter. If there was a grey area between sweet and bitter with vanilla and hazelnut notes, then this coffee was made for you.
- Pairs well with fruits such as apples and bananas.
- Pleasant taste
- Low amount of calories is significant for those on a weight loss diet
- Not suitable for individuals with hazelnut allergy
Machiatto’s are one of the best coffee drinks to exist in the history of coffee. A typical macchiato would be a cup of espresso coffee with frothed milk. A caramel macchiato is a mix of espresso, liquid milk, caramelized milk, black coffee, and whipped cream.
Caramel macchiatos can be taken when iced, which makes them ideal for summer. However, there tends to be a large number of calories (about 220), thanks to all the extra sweeteners.
Who is it for?
Caramel macchiatos are great for those who have a sweet tooth and need a beverage to satisfy themselves occasionally. The high caloric load and sugar content may not be suitable for those on weight loss diets.
- Milk helps improve cognitive performance and a good source of calcium.
- Can be taken iced with the same great taste.
- Not recommended for those trying to lose weight
- Not recommended for lactose-intolerant individuals.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Flavored Coffee
Do not focus too much on the name, as this flavor has subtle undertones of spice flavors. Combine espresso with steamed milk, whipped cream, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin puree, and you have your pumpkin latte.
Due to the additional sweeteners, there is a large number of calories in this drink. You could reduce this by putting in less sugar, no whipped cream, and using non-fat milk. That way, you make yourself what is called a “skinny” pumpkin spice latte coffee.
Who Is It For?
An excellent choice if you experience cravings for sweet drinks occasionally and are not planning to lose weight. Remember that you can tweak the caloric count based on what additive goes in.
- Great taste with lots of milk as a calcium source
- Leaves you feeling full due to the high number of calories
- Can be tailored to suit vegans (swap the dairy milk for plant milk, e.g., soy, oat, or almond milk).
- Not good for lactose-intolerant individuals
- Not suitable for those on a weight loss journey
Chocolate Mocha Flavored Coffee
If you love hot chocolate drinks but have never tried a chocolate mocha before, what have you been drinking? A chocolate mocha contains espresso and froth but with subtle chocolatey notes thanks to chocolate syrup, melted chocolate, or powdered chocolate.
Chocolate mochas, on average, have about 150 calories and are rich in fiber and protein. Chocolate mochas are great for satisfying one’s cravings. If you need to reduce the caffeine content, use white chocolate, as dark chocolate contains more caffeine.
Who Is It For?
Chocolate mochas are an excellent drink for those with chocolate cravings, as you can pick what variety of chocolate goes in. Thanks to the chocolate, you get a healthy dose of antioxidants and minerals.
- Amazing taste
- Health benefits such as the reduced risk of heart disease and reduced inflammation.
- Not an excellent idea for those looking to lose weight
Peppermint Mocha Coffee
Peppermint in coffee doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Peppermint mocha coffee comprises roast coffee, milk, whipped cream, mocha sauce, and peppermint syrup. Add dark chocolate curls or white chocolate depending on your preference.
You can make this drink skinny by using non-fat milk, eliminating the whipped cream, and using a sugar-free variant of peppermint syrup. This should be about one hundred calories, compared to the 440 calories you would get on a regular peppermint mocha.
- Excellent flavor and taste
- Leaves you feeling full, thanks to high calories
- Can be modified to suit different nutritional needs, e.g., skinny and vegan
- Large amount of calories not great for weight loss
- Sugar content (54g) is well above recommended daily intake (24g) for a regular peppermint mocha.
Kona coffee is the name given to coffee grown in certain regions in the Northern and Southern Kona districts of Hawaii. It is one of the most expensive coffees globally, and only coffee cultivated in this region can be tagged “Kona Coffee.”
Kona coffee is rich in flavor with an incredible aroma to match. This medium-bodied coffee blends well with sugar, and milk chocolate with honey being a great addition. Kona coffee is expensive, thanks to its limited supply.
Who Is It For?
Kona coffee is excellent for those who like coffee with a superb aroma that is not too high in caffeine content. Kona coffee is low in calories and sugar, making it ideal for a lot of consumers.
Kona coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of several conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Great taste, low in calories and sugar content
- Great health benefits, e.g., antioxidants and improved metabolism
- Could be quite pricey due to its exclusivity
Highlander Grogg Coffee
It turns out Scotland is not only known for haggis and whisky, but they’ve also got a claim to some of the unique coffees out there. Highlander Grogg is specialty coffee that infuses a rich blend of rum, butterscotch, and subtle vanilla tones to leave you wanting more.
Highlander Grogg coffee contains zero fiber, sodium, saturated fat, added sugars, or cholesterol. However, this could differ slightly depending on what brand you purchase. Overall, it is a great coffee drink with a unique taste like no other.
Who Is It For?
Highlander Grogg coffee is for those who want to experience a taste like no other and cherish their coffee’s flavor and smoothness. Many users have reported switching to Highlander Grogg coffee after the first try.
- Awesome flavor and taste
- Can be enjoyed without additives such as sugar and creamer
- Those who dislike the idea of consuming any form of alcohol may not like it.
- Could be quite pricey at some stores
Frappucino Flavored Coffee
This list would not have been complete without one of the best-selling coffee flavors at Starbucks. A frappuccino is an espresso-based drink consisting of ice, milk, sugar, espresso and tastefully finished with whipped cream. Chocolate syrup is added sometimes for extra sweetness.
Frappuccinos can be made at home if you have the required ingredients and a brewer such as a Keurig. This drink is slightly high in caffeine because of the chocolate and coffee involved. Just use white chocolate instead of dark chocolate, as this helps drop the caffeine content.
Who is it for?
It is preferably suited to those who prefer espresso-based drinks and want to forget about the bitterness of heavily roasted coffee. Coffee drinkers who are also sweet-toothed with sugary cravings would love frappucinos.
- Great taste
- Loaded with sugars and fat.
Bringing things to a close, we present the cafe latte. A very easy-to-make espresso-based drink, cafe lattes are some of the most regular options at your local Starbucks. A cafe latte is an espresso, coffee, and steamed milk. This, along with cappuccinos, are some of the most famous Italian coffee drinks available.
Cafe lattes tend to be sweeter than lattes, although lattes give more room for additives and sweeteners as they can be flavored. Cafe lattes are among the healthiest espresso drinks available, and some have referred to it as “heaven in a cup.”
Who Is It For?
Cafe lattes are great for people who do not like the expressly strong taste of coffee. The steamed milk in the cafe latte helps mask the coffee’s bitter taste, as cafe lattes are usually heavy in milk.
- Great tasting
- Easy to make and a healthy choice
- Not sweet enough for some due to the absence of sweeteners like hazelnut and caramel.
Coffee Types Explained
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Make My Coffee Sweeter?
You can do this by using coconut milk, as it has a sweeter taste compared to ordinary milk. There are several additives you can add, as highlighted in this post. Other sweeteners and additives worth trying out include toffee and cinnamon.
What is The Sweetest Flavor of Coffee On This List?
The answer is French vanilla coffee, hands down. For some, it might be frappucino flavored coffee, due to the additives. However, french vanilla coffee does not even need so much to turn out pleasant compared to frappucinos.
When you think about all the processes the coffee has passed through from seed to cup, it makes you appreciate all the hands that contributed to the wonderful journey you now savor.
The journey of the coffee from seed to cup is a complicated but satisfying one, as we do all we can to provide you with the best-tasting coffee.