Coffee beans. In my opinion, I think they were the real inspiration to Benjamin Tabart’s famous fairytale from 1807, Jack and the Beanstalk. You wake up each morning and enjoy that magical cup of coffee that helps you overcome the giants of your day.
Now, one might ask, ‘Where do these magic beans come from?’ ‘What do they look like?’ ‘Are they actual beans?’ I will do my best to explain this wonderful and mysterious gift from nature.
Coffee beans, in truth, are seeds in red berries, or cherries depending on who you talk to, that grow on a plant that produces white flowers. This explains why some coffee blends may have fruity undertones. Depending on the roaster and coffee lover, these fruity notes can be removed or they can be left to be subtle or not so subtle hints of flavor during the roasting process. The Coffee Plant is of the botanical family Rubiaceae which generally grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions. All coffee species, approximately 25 species, are woody evergreens ranging from small shrubs to trees higher than 30ft. The leaves vary in color from yellow to a dark green with hints of bronze or purple shades.
Of the coffee species, there are two most commonly used; Coffee Arabica and Coffea Carnephora (Robusta Coffee). Coffee Arabica is primarily shade grown in higher elevations of 3,300-6,000ft and is generally considered to produce higher quality and better tasting coffee, claiming at least 60% of worldwide commercial coffee production. Robusta Coffee is predominantly grown in Southeast Asia and West Africa, Vietnam being the lead producer. This species prefers to be grown in lower elevations with higher temperatures and more rainfall. It in general has a more bitter taste and a little extra body, making it a favorite to use in traditional Italian blends. And if you need that extra caffeine boost, Robusta Coffee happily has 40-50% higher caffeine levels.
So whether coffee beans were the magical influence on Tabart’s tale or not, I believe we coffee lovers can all agree it is a delightful gift from Mother Nature making our days that much more manageable.