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Coffee in history

Origins and diffusion of the coffee plant.

There are many legends on the origins of this plant. The Orient associates its discovery with the Yemenite monks, who, according to the first Arabic testimonials of the sixteenth century, used it to stay awake longer during prayers. The West, however, attributes its discovery to the Christian monks. One legend even tells of a true deus ex machina: according to the Syrian church the prophet Muhammad was revived from an illness thanks to a magical potion that was offered to him by the archangel Gabriel. It was a drink as dark as the Sacred Stone of Mecca, received straight from Allah and known with the informal name of QAWA. Once Muhammad had drunk it, he jumped to his feet completely recovered and ready to face any adversity and enemy in battle.

All sources recognize Abyssinia as the birthplace of coffee and Arabia as its first port of call for its diffusion throughout the world. One legend, which we believe to be true, tells of an enormous fire that spread across an Abyssinia which was then covered of naturally growing coffee plants. This gave rise to the first open air coffee roasting in history. The cultivation of coffee later spread to the East Indies, where it was then replanted by the Dutch in the sixteenth century and spread to Yemen, Java, and in all colonies of the New World, starting with Guyana and Martinique and reaching the tropics. The Brazilian officer Francisco de Melo Palheta has the merit of bringing coffee to Brazil, thanks to a few plants hidden amongst a bunch of roses given to him by an admirer.

In Arabia it replaced an infusion called Cat Cat and in Muslim countries it spread instead of the alcoholic beverages which were forbidden by the Quran. The Venetian ambassador Morosini mentioned its use at the Turkish court in 1585 and from Turkey it spread to Italy, at first for medicinal purposes, then after 1669 its use spread to France and Germany. The common practice of drinking coffee in a bar rootssome centuries ago to to English, German and French Coffee Houses and to the coffee shops of Constantinople in the 1500s: records of the first coffee shop date back to 1555 in Istanbul a place that quickly became a meeting point forpoets, intellectuals and politicians. In Italy coffee was introduced by the physician and botanist Prospero Alpini who brought with him to Venice some bagfuls of it from the Orient. At first it was very expensive and sold only in pharmacies. Larger scale coffee consumption began with the opening of the "Coffee Shops" which were very appreciated by intellectuals, politicians and illuminists of the time and which were also common in Milan, where in 1974the first journal on the topic, called "IL CAFFE" (The Coffeehouse), was founded.

Harvesting

can be carried out in two different ways: by “stripping” or “picking”. “Picking” is the more valued and expensive method and entails repeated handpicking of the same plant; in big plantations sometimes only 2 harvestings are carried out due to the lack of manpower. With the “stripping” method branches are shaken and all drupes are removed, even though they have not reached the same level of ripening.

The drying and preparation of grains, from the crop to the lot.

At harvest following the industrial operations, aimed to the preparation and drying of the beans to the roasting:

dry: coffee beans are left to dry on brick paved yards. They are turned and then they are put into an air-conditioned room at 40°C: the latter procedure is very important to determine the final quality and helps to avoid a strong and acid product, with a consequent economic loss.

semi-washed: farmers collect from the ground all dry, ripe and green beans which will then be separated with the help of a mechanical dividing and winding machine which acts using water pressure. The product is then dried and polished.

washed: it consists of the elimination of the peel and the pulp that surround the bean by using dedicated machines. Parched coffee beans are then left to macerate for 36 hours and washedagain many times before being placed out to dry in the sun.

Infinite varieties of coffee. Journey with us amongst Arabica and Robusta

Coffee belongs to the tropical family of Rubiacee with 50 known species. The most renowned for financial reasons are Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora, commonly called Robusta. The more valuable Arabica constitutes 2/3 of the world production (primarily in Central and South America); its beans are long and flat, the infusion is sweet, rich of flavour and aroma, with a variety of honey and chocolate hints. The less valuable variety Robusta contains a double quantity of caffeine and it is typically cultivated in Africa and India: these plantations yield more and are more resistant. The taste is full-bodied, slightly bitter and woody.
The coffee plant is a dicotyledon (since its seed contains two cotyledons) and belongs to the phanerogamae family. It is evergreen, has ramified and shallow roots and it bears small white flowers which resemble orange blossom. Flowering occurs 3 times a year, the drupe is vermilion or yellow and it is made up of an exocarp (fruit epidermis), mesocarp (pulp/mucilage), endocarp (parchment skin) and 2 seeds. Some drupes contain only one seed called “Caracoli” (peaberry). Ideal cultivation areas are tropical zones between the 25° parallels of latitude at altitudes from 200 m to 1,800 m, with temperatures ranging from 15° C to 25° C and abundant precipitations. There is no need of specific types of soil.

The varieties of coffee

Coffee is a beverage consumed in large quantities all over the world, but each coffee is unique as it does for wine or olive oil, are the territory, the entire composition of the soil, the altitude and the climate define the organoleptic qualities of each harvest. Here are some of the coffees used in the preparation of our blends