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The more you explore, the more is left to explore. That’s the world of coffees for you. Almost like a language!
As you dive deeper into this sea, you’ll find there are seven broad things that can make a difference to the feel and flavour of your coffee. And yes, don’t forget to keep a coffee journal with you when you start, so you can record the tasting notes. That’s really when you will begin to enjoy coffee.
Ever since Baba Budan discovered the wonderful bean on his Mecca pilgrimage back in the 16th century, brought it to India and decided to propagate it in his backyard, coffee has thrived in country. The British then gave it a boost and initiated its cultivation in the hilly regions of South India. Today, Indian coffee comes from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
The altitude, climate, soil type and the topography of the areas impact the flavour of coffee. One doesn’t need to get to the bottom of it. But a little knowledge of where your coffee is coming from can make it very helpful in identifying the defining factors of your coffee, and enjoy it more. We bet, you’d want more!
Everything from use or non-use of chemicals, to planting and pruning patterns, to the cherry picking practices makes a difference. Cherry? Yes, the bean that we roast and grind and finally drink is actually the pit of the coffee cherry! And it is this cherry that needs to be picked at just-the-right level of ripeness, and by expert hands only!
Out of the coffee cherry, the seed can be dried in different ways to bring about the distinctive taste of the coffee. The seeds can be left to fully dry inside the cherry itself, or the cherry can be briefly fermented before letting the seed out, or honey processed wherein only a part of is allowed to dry.
It’s true that the roaster’s job is equally tricky but even a highly skilled roaster cannot work wonder with a poor quality bean. Similarly, an excellently grown and processed bean can perform poorly in your cup if not roasted well!
Roasting isn’t as simple as light and dark. Roast time, temperature, rate of rise, drum speed, air flow and cooling speed and then timing – all contribute to the final taste. Time consuming. Costly. And a masterful process. But, it is only well roasted coffee that helps you experience the influences of all the steps that came before the roasting.
You might think why should a richly grown and roasted bean have to undergo blending after all! If handled well, blending can further enrich the taste of your coffee, and let you enjoy it more by adding in some seasonal fruit flavours, and offer you a much wider variety!
Final stage in the soil to palate journey. Brewing a great cup of coffee involves both chemistry and physics. From when the coffee meets the water, to whether the water used is hard or soft, to the coffee-to-water ratio, to coffee particle size (called grind size), water temperature, to the contact time, to the agitation, and finally to the heat retention allowed. With these permutations and combinations, coffee can be brewed using techniques and equipment like Aeropress, Coffee Filter, Cold Brew, Espresso, French Press, Inverted Aeropress, Moka Pot, South Indian Filter, Turkish, Whole Beans and Pour Over.
This isn’t all actually. There are many more factors that can impact the taste of coffee. Some that deserve a mention are crop freshness, packaging, age of roast and storage.
While the coffees that come to you from Boxes of Joy will have all the above factors taken care of, what you can control at home is the last one. Store your coffees in air-tight containers after you open the packs and ensure perfect aroma until the last cup!
Oh, is it coffee time already?
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