Instant Coffee

Instant Coffee Defined

When the topic of great coffee comes up in conversation, you’re probably never going to hear someone say, “Oh, my favorite cup of coffee comes from this great instant coffee brand.” Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about instant coffee is its lack of flavor and complexity. In fact, if you’ve had a cup of instant coffee, it was likely out of convenience rather than out of the desire for a wonderful flavor. While there are many preconceived notions regarding instant coffee, few actually understand what this instant pick-me-up actually is.

What is Instant Coffee

Even though many view instant coffee as an artificial form of their beloved beverage, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, instant coffee is nothing more than coffee that’s undergone a specialized drying process. Even Starbucks now carries instant coffee for sale in their stores. There are no additional chemicals are harmful compounds. The only difference between instant coffee types is how the coffee beans are ground and dried. Coffee crystals are typically created through two methods: freeze-drying or spray-drying.

Typically, coffee that undergoes a freeze-drying process yields a more pleasant, rich flavor that’s similar to that of traditionally brewed coffee. To freeze-dry the coffee, the grounds are first brewed into what appears to be a normal cup of coffee; however, during the brewing process, the beans are flash frozen. Upon being frozen, beans are sent to a vacuum chamber, where all the water is sublimated. Sublimation is similar to evaporation; however, the water is removed through ice instead of heat. Once the moisture has been extracted, what’s left are instant coffee crystals.

Spray-drying coffee is a slightly more complex process. This process utilizes a spray mechanism, where liquid coffee is “sprayed” into a large container that’s warmed through heated air. As the liquid coffee crystals enter this chamber, they instantly dry. What’s left behind are dry coffee crystals. The biggest issue with this type of coffee production is the resulting powder is typically more difficult to dissolve in hot water than its freeze-dried counterpart. In an attempt to rectify this situation, manufacturer’s commonly clump the powder together to form coffee crystals. Because of the ease and swiftness of this manufacturing method, this is the coffee that’s typically found in cheaper instant coffee products.

However, if you’re interested in avoiding dealing with coffee crystals, which can be difficult to properly dissolve, you may want to reach for one of the newest instant coffee innovations – coffee extract. This is typically liquified coffee that’s simply a highly concentrated version of coffee. Simply add a teaspoon or two of this liquid to hot water, and you have an instant cup of coffee without having to deal with non-dissolved crystals. Regardless of how you wish to enjoy instant coffee, rest assured, you are drinking real, delicious coffee.

Decaffeinated Coffee

How Caffeine is Removed from Decaffeinated Coffee

Throughout the world, coffee is the most consumed beverage – just behind water. However, the world’s obsession with coffee is nothing new. Historical evidence has found proof of coffee being used as a stimulant in ancient Ethiopia. While many enjoy the flavor of coffee, the majority of coffee lovers reach for their morning beverage to assist in waking up and becoming alert. However, because of the stimulating effects of caffeine, many choose to avoid this delicious beverage. If you find yourself desiring the velvety, rich flavor of coffee without its stimulating effects, then you’ll want to grab a cup of decaffeinated coffee. While decaf coffee features the same flavor as standard coffee, the process of decaffeination is often a source of confusion.

Original Decaffeinated C0ffee Method

The first evidence of removing caffeine from coffee dates back to 1905. It was in this year when Ludwig Roselius utilized a potentially toxic compound known as benzene to remove caffeine content of green coffee beans. While effective, the harsh chemicals made decaffeinated coffee a dangerous concoction. However, as time moved on, the use of toxic chemicals gave way to “naturally decaffeinated” methods.

Water-Based Decaffeinated Coffee

This is, by far, one of the safest ways caffeine concentrations can be reduced within coffee beans. Throughout process, water is utilized as a powerful solvent mixture to dissolve caffeine from coffee beans. Typically, coffee beans are sent through a series of 12 vessels. Each vessel contains a set of coffee beans. As the coffee beans rest, a solution of water and a decaffeinated coffee bean extract is circulated around the beans. The green coffee bean extract is passed through a series of charcoal, which has been activated through a carbohydrate-rich mixture, typically sucrose. This solution is manufactured in such a way that it attracts only caffeine out of coffee beans, and not the other compounds that provide coffee its iconic flavor. After a specific duration, the liquid is drained and the coffee beans are then rinsed and completely dried. While this method is 100% natural, it does have a tendency to remove other compounds from coffee beans. Typically, 94 to 96 percent of caffeine content is removed from beans with this process.

Carbon Dioxide Decaffeinated Coffee Process

In this method, coffee beans are placed in specialized vessels. These vessels are highly pressurized – typically up to 300 times atmospheric pressure. Moistened green coffee beans are placed in this highly pressurized vessel, and carbon dioxide is circulated throughout the beans. Because of the massive amount of pressure, carbon dioxide changes its chemical composition. This alteration is known as “supercritical,” as its density changes from a gas to a liquid-like substance. This is a very popular technique as it’s relatively cheap to operate and is successful at removing caffeine content from beans. Unlike water-based decaffienation methods, carbon dioxide techniques can remove anywhere between 96 to 98 percent of caffeine content within a single bean. You can find coffee beans online that have been decaffeinated or you can find them at your local grocer.

gourmet coffee

Gourmet Coffee Defined

If you’ve spent any time searching throughout the coffee aisle at your local supermarket or browsed the shelves of your local coffee shop, then you’ve likely found a marketing trend. The majority of coffee manufacturers has turned to the phrase “gourmet” to describe their coffee. While many retailers tout their coffee as being gourmet, what does this really mean? Moreover, is there really a difference between standard and gourmet coffee?

What is Gourmet Coffee?

While there’s no certification organization that decides what a gourmet coffee actually is, this term typically refers to the actual coffee bean that’s used. In the United States, there are two primary types of coffee beans: Robusta and Arabica. Perhaps the most common, and most cost-effective, coffee bean is Robusta. This bean is quite hearty and is capable of being grown in locations throughout the world. Due to its commonness, it’s generally found in low-cost coffee varieties.

When it comes to “gourmet” coffee, retailers are simply adding a fancy phrase to implicate that the coffee beans are best, which typically means they are Arabica. Because of the flavor depth of this type of coffee bean, many retailers choose to categorize Arabica beans into their “gourmet varieties.” However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the beans are of better quality.

If you were to ask true coffee connoisseurs, they’d say the only way a coffee can be classified as gourmet is if it is consumed within three days after it’s roasting process. Many lovers of coffee find that after 72 hours, the deepest levels of flavor are permanently lost. However, this is not necessarily a proven fact than more of a preference. If you’re able to enjoy beans within this window, it’s possible you’ll find the flavor different than other beans simply because of its freshness – this does not mean it’s a higher quality bean.

Perhaps one of the most common qualifying markers for gourmet coffee is based upon where it’s grown. There are specific regions throughout the world that are known to produce a higher quality bean. For example, the majority of coffee beans labeled “gourmet” were grown in Costa Rica, Sumatra or Guatemala. However, this is not a guarantee. In fact, if you were to search “top gourmet coffee,” many online and offline retailers place Blue Mountain Coffee grown in Jamaica to be at the top of the list, which generally means a hefty price tag of up of to $65 per pound.

Even though the majority of coffee retailers claims to have a “gourmet” blend, the reality of the situation is this is likely nothing more than a marketing ploy. The fact is, determining whether a coffee is gourmet is done by the consumer. When you’re searching for a gourmet coffee, don’t simply go for one that says it’s gourmet, but rather, choose a coffee based upon other qualifying markers. By exploring the various types of coffee, you’re able to uncover the perfect blend for your own unique taste. When found, this is your personal gourmet coffee – even if its label indicates the opposite.

coffee roasting certification

Type of Coffee Roaster Certification Programs

If you’re interested in turning your passion for perfectly roasted coffee into a profitable and rewarding career, then you should consider earning a coffee roaster certificate. While there aren’t very many options in terms of who offers these certificate programs, the following certifications are offered by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), and are considered the most professional and thorough coffee roaster certifications in the industry. Therefore, if you’re interested in expanding your knowledge with the goal of entering the coffee industry as a roaster (such as DrivenCoffee), you should consider earning one (or all) of the following certifications.

Roaster’s Guild Level 1 Coffee Roaster Certification

The Level 1 Certification offered by the SCAA is meant to provide a fundamental knowledge level of coffee roasting and the coffee roasting industry. Along with completing required courses, students are expected to work or intern a minimum of 100 hours within a professional coffee roasting facility. The following courses are common among this certification level:

Life Cycle of a Coffee Bean
Business Elements of Coffee Roasting
Introduction to Coffee Brewing and Extraction
Introduction to Grading Green Coffee Beans
Introduction to Coffee Bean Decaffeination Techniques
Equipment Used in Roasting
Modern Coffee Roasting Concepts & Practices

Once you’ve satisfied the curriculum and practical experience portion of this certification course, you’ll be rewarded with SCAA Level 1 Certification in Coffee Roasting.

Roaster’s Guild Level 2 Coffee Roaster Certification

The purpose of the Level 2 Roaster’s Certification is to build upon the knowledge learned within the Level 1 certification program. The primary goals within this certificate program offered by the SCAA is to provide the necessary skills and knowledge for those interested in working as a professional coffee roaster. Coursework within this certification program delve into the science of roasting to help cultivate a knowledge base that’s founded in science and sensory skills. Coursework found within this certification course include:

Advanced Processing Techniques
Advanced Roasting Methods and Techniques
Economics of the Coffee Industry
Identification of Roasting Defects
Understanding Coffee Lab Equipment
Organic Farming Essentials
Business Elements of the Coffee Industry
Sensory Skill Development (Typically offered in a three-part learning module)
Coffee Roasting Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer

Once you’ve satisfied the curriculum portion of the certification course, you must then delve into the practical aspect of this certificate. As of 2014, in order to earn your Level 2 Coffee Roaster Certificate from the SCAA, you must work a minimum of 100 hours within a commercial coffee roasters facility. If you aren’t sure where to locate such a facility, the SCAA offers a myriad of resources for students. Acceptable practical experience includes employment within the facility or work as an intern.