Today we took a class field trip to Arezzo and visited Sandy Caffé. Sandy Caffé is a coffee bean roasting company that was established in 1957. Sandy Caffé purchases coffee beans from approximately 9 different locations, roasts, blends, and transforms the beans into the beverage that we are all accustomed to.
Once we dived deeper into the process of producing coffee, I realized there was a lot more to it than what first meets the eye…and taste buds. For instance, unroasted coffee beans are actually green and have no scent at all! During the roasting process, they expand in size, decrease in weight, develop the characteristic aroma, and become a rich, dark brown color. The amount of time and temperature of the roaster impacts the overall strength and flavor of the coffee. For example, Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse company in the world, purposely roasts their coffee beans longer to yield a slightly burnt flavor, insuring consistency in taste and creating the signature flavor of Starbucks coffee.
Furthermore, it surprised me to learn that there are many different species of coffee tress, but only two are commonly produced for consumption. The first is Coffea canephora, or more commonly know as Robusta coffee. Robusta coffee has a bitter flavor, however it can be machine harvested and grown in lower altitudes. This type is generally used for instant coffee. The second is Coffea Arabica, which is grown at a higher altitude, it must be hand harvested, but has a better flavor than Robusta coffee. Most coffees are a blend of these two varieties.
At the end of the Sandy Caffé tour, we were able to sample Robusta coffee and Coffea Arabica. I was amazed how different they were from each other. To me, the Robusta coffee had a sharp, woody flavor, where as the Coffea Arabica was smoother and slightly more acidic tasting.
I found learning about the production of coffee fascinating as coffee is universal and makes a daily impact on many people’s lives. I could go on and on about the many steps and hands the beans pass through in order to make that perfect cup of Joe, but I won’t. So until latté, grazie and gig 'em!