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The world of coffee.

 foto di chicchi di caffè

Since the work of the bar is largely based on the preparation of coffee and the like, it seemed to me correct to deal extensively with this issue.

Freely drawn fromè

The Arabic word "qahwa" (قهوة), originally, identified a drink produced from the juice extracted from some seeds that was consumed as a dark red liquid, which, when drunk, caused exciting and stimulating effects, so much so that it was also used as a medicine. Today this word indicates, in Arabic, precisely coffee.

From the term "qahwa" we passed to the Turkish word Kahve through a progressive narrowing of meaning, a word reported in Italian with "coffee". This derivation is disputed by those who argue that the term coffee derives from the name of the region where this plant was most widespread in the wild, Caffa, in south-western Ethiopia.

Hints of botany
Coffee is a drink obtained by grinding the seeds of some species of small tropical trees belonging to the genus Coffea, part of the botanical family of Rubiaceae, a group of angiosperms that includes over 600 genera and 13,500 species.
Although more than 100 species are identified and described within the genus Coffea, commercially the different species of origin are presented as different varieties of coffee and the most widespread are the "arabica" (Coffea arabica) and the "robusta" (Coffea canephora ).
The plant or shrub grows, as mentioned, in tropical regions at an altitude ranging from 200 to 2000 meters. It is fruticose and dicotyledonous, it reaches a height ranging from 3 to 12 meters but, by pruning, it is kept at an easy height for harvesting the fruits. The shape of the plant is generally conical, with taproot and shallow roots. The leaves are a beautiful bright green, the flowers, white, usually in groups, have an intense scent reminiscent of jasmine. The fruits are small green drupes which, as they ripen, acquire the appearance of cherry with a reddish color. The soft and yellowish pulp contains two seeds or grains, both protected by a membrane and a thin silvery film. The seeds are flat in shape, with a longitudinal groove on the inside and convex on the outside. The size of the seeds varies from species to species.

Cultivated species
There are three species of coffee grown on a large scale (Coffea arabica, Coffea canephorae, to a lesser extent, Coffea liberica). About ten are grown locally.
The species differ in taste, caffeine content, and adaptability to climates and soils other than those of origin. We remind you that all the cultivated species still exist, in the areas of origin, in the wild. However, it is also true that many new varieties have been artificially created.
Main species
Arabica. The species that was used first is Coffea arabica, a plant native to Ethiopia (where coffee is called buna), South-East Sudan and North Kenyan and later spread to Yemen, a place where, moreover, the first historical traces of the consumption of the drink, back in 1450 among the followers of Sufism.
The seeds of Coffea arabica have a much lower caffeine content than those of other widespread species and compared to other species it is self-pollinating, i.e. autogamous and also prefers high altitude crops (between 1000 and 2000 meters). The cultivation of Coffea arabica outside the territories of origin began very early, e.g. in Indonesia in 1699.

Robust. Much cultivated today is Coffea robusta (or Coffea canephora, a name considered scientifically more correct but little used commercially). It is a species native to tropical Africa, between Uganda and Guinea, very adaptable (it also grows at altitudes below 700 meters) and therefore cheaper. Its cultivation only began in the nineteenth century. It is an allogamous plant, therefore it requires cross-pollinations that can differentiate genetically with more ease than Arabica.

Liberica. Among the less widespread species of culture, the most important is Coffea liberica, native to Liberiae cultivated, as well as in West Africa, especially in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Legend about the discovery

Until the nineteenth century it was not certain which was the place of origin of the coffee plant and, in addition to Ethiopia, it was assumed that it was Persia and Yemen. Pellegrino Artusi, in his famous manual, claims that the best coffee is that of Mokha (city in Yemen), and that this would be the clue to identify its place of origin. There are many legends about the origin of coffee.
The best known says that a shepherd named Kaldi took goats to graze in Ethiopia. One day, when they met a coffee plant, they began to eat the berries and chew the leaves. When night came the goats instead of sleeping began to wander with energy and vivacity never expressed until then. Seeing this, the shepherd identified the reason and roasted the seeds of the plant eaten by his flock, then grinded them and made an infusion of them, obtaining coffee.
Another legend has as its protagonist the prophet Mohammed who, feeling ill, one day had the vision of the Archangel Gabriel who offered him a black potion (like the Sacred Stone of Mecca) created by Allah, which allowed him to recover and return in strength. There is also a legend that tells of a fire in Abyssinia of wild coffee plants that spread its smoke into the air for miles and miles away.

Diffusion in the Middle East, Europe and America

In the 15th century, the knowledge of the coffee-based drink extended to Damascus, Cair, and finally to Istanbul, where its consumption took place in the meeting places of the time.
In his work Sylva sylvarum, published posthumously in 1627, Francesco Bacone was the first to describe these places where Turks sit and drink coffee, comparing them to European taverns.
The first to describe the coffee plant in Europe were: in Germany the botanist Léonard Rauwolf, in a book published in 1583 and in Italy, the Marosticense Prospero Alpini, in his book De Medicina AEgyptiorum dated 1591. In the representation of Prospero Alpini, however, the berries of the cafes, which were described in Europe only in 1605 by Charles de L'Écluse, then director of the botanical garden of Vienna.
Due to its commercial relations in the Near East, Venice was the first to make use of coffee in Italy, perhaps as early as the sixteenth century; but the first coffee shops were only opened in 1645
In the 17th century, a pound of coffee was paid up to 40 scudi in London and Paris. The use was then gradually generalized to grow up to the immense consumption that is still made today.
Towards 1650, it began to be imported and consumed in England and consequently the first cafes opened (intended as clubs and bars and called in English coffeehouse), such as those in Oxford and London. In 1663 in England there were already 80 coffeehouses, which grew dramatically to exceed 3000 units in 1715. The cafes soon became the birthplace and diffusion of liberal ideas, and were frequented by writers, politicians and philosophers, spreading their use throughout Europe. In 1670 he opened the first café in Berlin and in 1686 in Paris.
In 1684, Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki, soldier of the troops of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski, who had come to Austria to save Vienna from the siege of the Turks, after the liberation of the city, opened the first coffee shop here, among the first in Europe. He initially used the coffee bags abandoned by the fleeing Ottoman army. In 1689, the first coffee house in the United States was inaugurated, in Boston, called the London Coffee House. The King's Arms, opened in New York in 1696, followed.
In the eighteenth century, every city in Europe owned at least one coffee. Coffee began to be grown on a large scale in the English colonies in the Dutch ones (in Indonesia). The Dutch East India Company began growing coffee as early as the last decade of the 17th century, near Java, using seeds from the port of Mocha, in Yemen. In 1706 some coffee plants were transferred from Java to the botanical garden of Amsterdam; from there, in 1713, a plant reached France.
In 1720 Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, set sail for the Caribbean with two coffee plants, of which only one survived, arriving at the French colony of Martinique. From there, in the following decades, the plants spread rapidly throughout Central America: Santo Domingo (1725), Guadeloupe (1726), Jamaica (1730), Cuba (1748) and Puerto Rico (1755).
In the same period, precisely in 1718, the Dutch transported the coffee to another colony of theirs, the Dutch Guiana (current Suriname) from which, in 1719 it entered French Guiana and from here it finally penetrated into Brazil, where, in 1727, the first plantations. Industry in the colonies depended exclusively on the practice of slavery, which was only formally abolished in 1888.
It was Carlo Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist who was responsible for the diffusion of the classification system for organisms in genus and species.
Production areas
According to statistics reported by the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the world's largest producers are, in order, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Ecuador follow in varying order according to the vintage.
Cultivation. Volcanic soils rich in nitrogen are the most suitable. The ideal climatic conditions, with temperatures between 15º and 25º, are found in the Tropics belt. The rains must be abundant in periods well separated from the dry seasons. The plant suffers from frost, wind, frost and excessive heat.
Sowing: after the preparation of the soil in special seedbeds, we proceed with the sowing of selected grains placed at a depth of approx. 2 cm. After 6-8 weeks, slender peduncles with the seed come out of the ground. The first leaves are then generated and gradually thicken. After a year they reach 30/50 cm in height and are planted in the plantations. For 2 years they do not produce but must be treated anyway with pesticide treatments and frequent pruning. After the first flowering begins the production of about 3-5 kg. per year, which is maintained for 15-20 years. The harvesting period varies from country to country and as the fruits do not ripen all together, the harvest can last for weeks.
There are generally two collection systems known internationally as "picking" and "stripping".
Picking, the workers remove the small ripening drupes one by one. It takes several steps to the same plant to complete the harvest.
Stripping, where the plantations are very extensive and for reasons of labor costs, the average ripening period of the drupes is evaluated and they come off all together, this fact is in any case to the detriment of quality .......



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