Following the coffee trail

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We love coffee. It perks us up and gives us that burst of energy to jumpstart the day and keep it on high gear. Its aroma alone is enough to fill our senses with good vibes and happy thoughts.

Due to its caffeine content, coffee has often been said to be bad for the health, but, in truth, it is actually more beneficial than harmful to our health.

For one, clinical trials find drinking coffee to be more likely to improve health conditions than to cause harm. More specifically, a 2012 meta-analysis found out that people who drink a moderate amount of coffee have a lower risk of heart failure, Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes, among others.
Too much coffee, however, may not be all that good, but the good news is that we can choose to have coffee with less caffeine because the caffeine content of a cup of the brew is determined by the type of bean used, the roasting process and the brewing method chosen to produce that cup of coffee.

Since coffee is a brewed drink made using roasted coffee beans, we can consciously lower the amount of our caffeine intake by picking dark roast Arabica coffee that has been brewed by extracting espresso shots instead of drip method.

This is because Arabica coffee contains half the caffeine found in Robusta coffee dark roast coffee has less caffeine than light roast coffee and a 25-ml. espresso shot contains 53 milligrams of caffeine as compared to the 115 to 175 mg. of caffeine in a 207ml. (7oz.) cup of drip coffee.

ED Bulanadi, Nespresso coffee ambassador, explains the trail that coffee took to conquer the world.

Some people do not mind the caffeine content of coffee though. They simply like to enjoy their coffee several times a day to stimulate their mind and get their creative juices running.

Back to their roots

The love for coffee is a universal phenomenon that transcends race, culture, geographical location, language and tradition. Blame it on the fact that coffee, which is native to tropical Africa, traces its roots back to the 15th century in Ethiopia and Sudan, and then introduced to Arabia, where coffee seeds were believed to have been first roasted and brewed.

Coffee has since traveled far and wide. By the 16th century, coffee has reached the entire Middle East, Persia (now known as Iran), Turkey and Northern Africa. From there, the coffee bug hit Italy and the rest of Europe and made its way to Indonesia and the Americas.

A cash crop for developing countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda in the African continent, coffee is now cultivated in over 70 countries in different parts of the world. Most of them cultivate Arabica coffee because, of the two main coffee species (Arabica and Robusta), Arabica is more highly regarded because Robusta tends to be more bitter and its flavor more watered down compared to Arabica. Remember, too, that Robusta contains almost double the caffeine content of Arabica.

While a sizable number of countries in the world love coffee, they cannot all become coffee-producing countries. There is such a thing as a coffee belt, which refers to the Americas, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. equally and only countries within the coffee belt can successfully grow coffee. The type of coffee grown is also dictated the nature, as Arabica, the more sensitive variety, needs to be grown at a high elevation, while Robusta happily thrives at a lower altitude.

“Tropical countries such as the Philippines are the most ideal places to grow coffee. In fact, we are growing coffee already. We grow Arabica in Baguio, Sagada and Benguet and we grow Robusta at lower elevation,” explains Nespresso coffee ambassador Ed Bulanadi, a coffee expert, during the launch of Nespresso’s five new global coffee “flavors” in its newest Master Origin Collection.

ESPRESSO coffee brewing from the newest Nespresso machine.

The coffee experience

Held at Aruga Café in Rockwell Center, Makati City, the launch gave everyone a unique coffee tasting experience. Bulanadi, as coffee master, took everyone on a tour of the five countries represented by the new Nespresso Master Origin Collection (liquid coffee capsules for use in Nespresso coffee making machines) and taught everyone the proper way to appreciate each of the coffees.

The five new Master Origin coffees: Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Colombia, Indonesia and India. Each Master Origin coffee is an engaging experience, as Nespresso experts did not only source the coffee but formed a partnership with the local farming community in each place to produce top quality coffees.

Master Origin Ethiopia comes from no less than the birthplace of coffee — Ethiopia. Arabica coffee is dry-processed or natural-processed. “Water is scarce in Ethiopia, and so the people found a way to process their coffee by roasting the coffee cherries in a flat metal gadget and then processing it. Fruity, tangy and sweet at the same time, it has an intensity of four. The best way to enjoy it is to taste or smell a small piece of orange peel before drinking the beverage.

Master Origin Nicaragua is produced using the black honey process, which requires peeling of the Arabica coffee beans, leaving part of its mucilage or mesocarp (flesh of the coffee fruit) in place, then allowing it to sun-dry in its natural fruit layer so that it soaks up the natural sugars. It results in a beautifully balanced black honey coffee with sweet cereal notes. At an intensity of five, it is best appreciated by smelling and tasting cereals before drinking the coffee.

Master Origin Colombia lives up to the taste profile of Colombian coffee, which is famous to be tangy. It utilizes the late harvest processing method, which means that the Arabica coffee cherries are intentionally left in the tree until they are overripe for 10 to 14 days to allow the natural nutrients to ferment the cherries. The coffee thus displays winey red fruit flavor, which comes out even more when the coffee is taken with cherries and cranberries. It has an intensity of 6.

Master Origin Indonesia uses the local wet-hulling process in Sumatra. The Arabica coffee cherries are de-pulped, rinsed, and put in hullers while still wet, thus leaving the beans with a higher moisture content than when they are processed in any other way. They are usually roasted darker, so that the resulting beverage is spicy, herbaceous and woody with strong tobacco undertones. With an intensity of eight, this type of coffee is best appreciated with cinnamon and tobacco on the side.

Master Origin India is the only coffee in the new Nespresso Master Origin Collection that uses Robusta coffee, specifically 95 percent Robusta and 5 percent Arabica. The coffee cherries are “monsooned,” which means that they have been swelled up with moisture to reveal a unique new flavor. It is strong, powerful and intense, with complex aromas and spicy wood flavors. It has an intensity of 11 and is best appreciated by smelling star anise and peppercorns on the side.

My personal favorite? Nicaragua and then Ethiopia.

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