Every morning as the Sun is starting to rise and the birds are beginning to sing, men and women across the country stumble out of their beds, zombified, and straight to the kettle to make a cup of coffee. For hundreds if not thousands of years, coffee has kept civilised society functioning but there are still those yet to discover the world of the coffee bean and its magical properties.
Here’s a beginner’s guide for the coffee virgins out there…
A brief history
Coffee beans are actually seeds of the coffee plant and are found inside the red or purple fruit it produces. It’s not clear when coffee was first used, but it’s believed to be around the 13th century in West Africa, after which its use spread across the world. South America is now responsible for around 45% of the world’s coffee, with Brazil producing most of it. The United States imports more coffee than anyone else, with the total amount exceeding $8 billion dollars a year.
Click here for a much, much more detailed history of coffee.
The different types of coffee
You’ve no doubt heard the different types of coffee banded around. Here’s what just a few of them are…
- Espresso – Just a shot of coffee with no milk. For the hardened coffee drinker who needs a quick caffeine boost.
- Cappuccino – Equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk froth, usually with a nice sprinkle of chocolate on top.
- Americano – A shot of espresso topped with hot water to which milk and sugar can be added. Pretty much just your regular cup of coffee.
- Caffe Latte – A shot of espresso topped with three parts steamed milk. A favourite of mums and hipsters everywhere.
- Mocha – Usually a cappuccino with chocolate syrup or powder mixed in although different places make it differently. Sometimes it’s a hot chocolate with a shot of coffee.
These are only the basics; you can find out more about the different types of coffee here.
Instant vs filter coffee
For a coffee that takes no time at all to make, instant coffee will do the trick. Instant coffee gets a bit of a bad reputation but you can get some pretty decent instant coffees, although you should probably stay clear of the ones you get out of vending machines.
To make the best possible instant coffee, put the milk in before the hot water (if you have milk) to stop the water from burning the coffee when poured in.
For the most decadent experience, however, get yourself a luxury coffee machine. You can get the style that uses those funny little pods to make your coffee which are actually pretty decent and make some really nice coffee or you can get the style that needs to be plumbed into in to the mains water. Obviously the latter option is a lot more expensive!