Coffee Makers, From Copper Container to Modern Equipment

Krups Coffee Maker

Krups Coffee Maker

Coffee makers have been around, not surprisingly, almost as long as coffee. The original coffee brewer was the Turkish Ibrik, a copper container with a long handle and a grooved tongue. Still used in the Middle East, it produces a very strong brew since it does no filtering.

For those more interested in drinking a beverage than eating coffee grounds, a wide variety of types are available from the plain to the esoteric. Here are a few things to look for…

The largest percentage of coffee makers these days is, of course, the inexpensive drip model. Pour water in the top, it’s heated by an electric coil, the water passes through coffee grounds and into a glass pot sitting on a heating plate.

But beyond these basics, there are a few features it’s handy to have.

Controls have proliferated to the point that many makers look like a modern stereo. LCD screens display the time, the time to brew, temperature, a timer and several infobits even more esoteric.

The ‘degree of brew desired’ control is a minimum, but more control rather than less may be preferred. Auto-shutoff is handy for those who forget to turn it off. Most people these days are too busy to wait for the brewing process to complete, so they remove the pot before the water has finished draining. In the past, coffee would continue to drip, splashing onto the heating plate. The automatic shut-off solves this by stopping the water flow when the pot is lifted.

The illuminated displays also help on those dark mornings when you can’t find the light switch and haven’t yet had your coffee to get your eyes completely open.

Cleaning has been made easier, too, by the invention of coffee ‘pods’ – small pre-measured paper containers of coffee through which the water flows. They have the added advantage of providing good filtering for grounds. Once the brewing is complete you just pop them out (after they’ve cooled!) and toss them into the waste basket. Essential for the busy – and opposed to cleaning up – coffee drinker.

Several models are available with water filters, essential for the urban dweller where the city supply often tastes like the community swimming pool. The filters are pricey but a good cup of coffee is priceless.

Permanent coffee filter styles can be had, but with the pods they’re much less important. Debates rage over the environmental impact and the taste effect of the paper from the pods. Vote your conscience.

Some even have integrated bean grinders, but I prefer to do that in a separate device for easier clean up. I haven’t seen one, but wouldn’t be surprised if there were even integrated roaster/grinder/brewers.

That really is taking a good thing too far, in my opinion. Sometimes the old-fashioned ways are best. Maybe the Turks have something there. My coffee has been tasting a little weak, lately…

Three Rich Coffee Recipes

Chocolate cakeLovers of the drink know how delicious that liquid dream can be. But delights abound in using coffee as an ingredient in food preparation too.

While commonly used in desserts – and we’ll look at a couple – the uses of coffee aren’t limited to sweets. Barbecue sauces and glazes for meat, chili and even pot roasts benefit from a dash of the ground bean.

In any recipe, freshness is essential, so either buy freshly ground or grind your own and use right away. And if the recipe calls for brewed coffee, make it just before preparing the dish with good filtered water. And remember, most recipes call for coffee two or three times as strong as you’d want to drink.

Here are only a few of the many possibilities…

Black Russian Cake

Select a favorite dark chocolate cake mix and add a cup of vegetable oil, a package of instant chocolate pudding, four eggs, and a half cup of creme de cacao. Now add a cup of your favorite Russian coffee. (1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Kahlua, 5 oz hot black coffee.)

Beat until smooth and pour into a tube pan, then bake 45 minutes at 350F (177C). Da!

The possibilities are endless. Muffins, cookies, breads and all manner of candy – not to mention those well known ice creams – are enhanced by the addition of coffee.

Even cocktails get a boost from the ancient bean. Besides the famous Kahlua there are a wide variety of liqueurs that can be used to enhance a pie.

Here’s a recipe for coffee syrup. Mix a cup of sugar with a cup of double strength Colombian. Boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly to keep the sugar dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer for three minutes, stirring often. Then cool. Try it!

Coffee Meatloaf Sauce

Australian Meatloaf is becoming increasingly popular outside kangaroo country.

Add one tablespoon of instant coffee to a quarter cup of water and half-cup of ketchup with a quarter cup of a favorite dry red and equal amount of Worcestershire sauce. Two tablespoons of vinegar, an ounce of margarine and two tablespoons of lemon juice with some brown sugar complete the mixture.

After the meat has cooked for 30 minutes, add the sauce and bake 45 minutes more at 375F (190C).

Espresso Brownies

To make brownies surpassing even Alice B. Toklas’, try this one.

Heat a cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and a stick and a half of butter in a sauce pan. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and four ounces of chopped, semi-sweet chocolate and stir until well melted. Now add a tablespoon of your favorite finely ground dark-roast. For an interesting variation substitute with two teaspoons of espresso granules.

Stir until everything is well mixed, then transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

While still warm, fold in three eggs, a cup of flour and pour the result into a baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes and set out to cool. Yum!


Bon cafetite!

Picking The Perfect Coffee Grinder

Vintage manual coffee grinderCoffee beans, like any food product, oxidize when exposed to air. The grounds, since they have a much larger relative surface area than the bean, and no covering, suffer this effect even more. Grinding beans at home produces the least exposure to air and the freshest grounds. And you can grind only what you immediately need.

But nothing is without its price. Grinding is time consuming and messy, so if you choose to invest the effort to reap the reward, pick the best you can afford.

Grinders fall into three broad categories – burr, blade and crusher.

The third type is some kind of mashing device, often an ancient-style mortar and pestle. These crush the beans, which is difficult and produces a very uneven sized granule. Not recommended where you have a choice.

The blade grinders don’t actually grind at all, they chop. A whirling blade slices the beans into smaller and smaller sections until they approach something like a small grain. Unfortunately, the grains are invariably too large and of inconsistent size.

As a consequence the surface areas of the granules vary, releasing varying amounts of flavor oils when brewed. Another effect of slicing is often the production of excess heat, as a result of the high speed of the blades. That friction warms the grounds and partially dissipates the aroma.

The first type is the first choice. Burr grinders have a pair of motor driven plates with pyramid-shaped teeth that grind the beans to a consistent, small-but-not-too-small granule. The better models allow adjusting the size of the grain and the speed of the grinding.

Adjusting the size is important in order to ‘fine tune’ the grounds to allow just the desired brew. Controlling the speed keeps the warming effect to a minimum.

Even burr grinders fall into two classes – the conical burr grinder is preferred by real coffee aficionados. Though noisier, they allow the most control of grain size and speed.

Good conical burr grinders can rotate as slowly as 500rpm. By contrast other burr grinders spin at 10,000rpm or higher, blades between 20-30,000rpm. That allows very fine control and little heat. The fine grind is especially important for Turkish-style brews. Some grinders have a continuous dial, others have a series of up to 40 steps to adjust the granule size.

Beyond those broad attributes, the home barista will want to look for solid construction, ease of cleaning and low noise. A cleaning brush and removable upper burrs is essential. Different materials used can also affect how much static electricity is produced – that causes the grains to stick to the burrs and container.

A timer switch and auto-shutoff is a nice addition and being able to see the beans as well as the grounds is helpful for judging the results in the grinder. Dark plastic or glass may be aesthetically appealing but it obscures the view. Grounds can change color slightly depending on the fineness.

Read reviews and be prepared to spend a little more and you’ll be rewarded with the freshest, most flavorful cup.

Bon cafetite!

Coffee Bean Producers Around The World

Coffee beansFrom its origins in Ethiopia, where the main coffee production is still from wild coffee tree forests, coffee consumption has spread throughout the world. But because of its requirement for ample sunshine and rain, the plants from which beans are produced grow only in tropical or sub-tropical regions.

From a narrow band centered on the equator of around 23 degrees North to 25 degrees South comes all of the world’s source of the liquid that a Turkish proverb calls ‘black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love’. As a commodity, coffee – from beans grown in over 70 countries – is second only to oil in dollar volume.

Brazil remains by far the largest coffee bean producer with an average output of 28% of the total. Even world-renowned Colombia is a distant second at only 16%, with Indonesia less than half that at 7%. Mexico, the fourth largest producer is half again at 4%.

Coffee trees produce the best beans in high altitudes but have adapted to a variety of areas.

In Brazil, the plantations cover huge areas and employ hundreds of workers to tend the plants. In Colombia the rugged mountains and poor economic conditions mean transportation to processing centers is still largely carried out by mule or Jeep.

While Colombia has the tree-lined mountains, Hawaiian producers plant on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. The black volcanic ash is rocky, but perfect for the plants where the intense afternoon sun is softened by tropical clouds. Frequent island showers provide the ample rain needed.

Indonesia is composed of thousands of islands, where coffee has been grown since the Dutch colonists introduced it in the 17th century. Though other countries have greater technology, no one exceeds the helpful warm, damp micro-climates found here. Hundreds of one to two acre farms on the largest islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi combine to secure the country’s third place position.

Plantations in Mexico, by contrast to Brazil, are primarily small farms but with over 100,000 of them the total still makes the country a serious factor on the world market. Most are located in the south, in Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas with the special Altura beans indicating their origin in the high altitudes.

Vietnam in recent years has rapidly been challenging Indonesia’s position as the Tonkin area recovers from decades of stagnation. First planted with arabica trees in the mid-19th century by French missionaries, the small plantations now produce robusta, one of the two main types of plant.

Africa, Kenya and the Ivory Coast, though smaller producers are world-famous for the dark, large beans grown there. In the foothills of Mount Kenya grow some of the largest in the world which go to produce a well-known fruity coffee. The Ivory Coast holds its position as one of the world’s largest producers of robusta, often used in espresso blends.

Whether the Brazilian Liberdade, the Costa Rican La Fuente, the Indian Monsoon Malabar or the Tanzanian Peaberry, coffees from around the world continue to find eager consumers everywhere.

Coffee and Health

drinking coffeeThe last 25 years has seen the growth of a cottage industry in the study of the health effects of drinking coffee. And no wonder – over 400 million cups a day are consumed throughout the world. But for decades health workers warned that the habit might be unsafe. Recent studies show the opposite is more likely to be the case.

Caffeine, one of the main ingredients in coffee, has long been known to be a mild stimulant. That can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate and produce the occasional irregular beat. But most researchers now believe the effect is mild and short-lived.

By contrast, the emerging data about the health benefits of coffee consumption are numerous and diverse.

There’s strong evidence that coffee reduces the odds of developing colon cancer, but only at higher levels of consumption – four cups a day or more. That much intake may well outweigh the benefits.

But other benefits accrue even at moderate levels of coffee drinking.

Coffee, like wine, contains antioxidants that help prevent heart disease and certain cancers by removing cell-destroying oxygen radicals from the blood. Some studies say the concentration of antioxidants is greater than that found in cranberries, apples or tomatoes. Scientists, however, point to the many other valuable vitamins, minerals and fibers in fruits and vegetables.

Apart from the obvious contribution to mental alertness, Chinese studies strongly suggest that coffee can even help reduce the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

American and Scandinavian studies both suggest that decaf and regular coffee help reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. Good news for the Scandinavians who have the highest per capita consumption in the world.

There’s some evidence that coffee may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and gallstones. Other digestive system benefits have been seen, as well. Caffeine increases the secretion of stomach acid, which aids digestion.

Caffeine has been shown to reduce constriction of airways in asthma sufferers, with moderate consumption. In addition to the caffeine, coffee contains theophylline, a bronchodilator which helps the effect.

But those benefits, not surprisingly, come with risks.

Though mammalian sperm swim faster, longer and farther in fluids laced with coffee some studies link heavy coffee drinking with reduced fertility.

Increased coffee consumption has been associated with higher blood levels of homocysteine, recently shown to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Other studies show an increase in LDL-cholesterol (the ‘harmful’ kind). To what degree these factors actually contribute to heart attacks is a matter of debate.

Coffee contains cafestol, which is known to raise cholesterol levels, mainly in coffee made by the European method of boiling ground beans in water. Percolated or filtered coffee, favored by most Americans, however, removes it. Decaf coffee may be an exception.

Women who drink coffee lose more calcium and tend to have less dense bones than non-caffeine consumers. Those who drink four or more cups per day also have twice the risk of urinary incontinence.

All in all, though, most agree that the benefits – at least at moderate consumption levels – outweigh the risks. By the way, for those heavy drinkers looking for a substitute, colas contain one-third the amount of caffeine per ounce. But somehow drinking a Coke instead of a Latte doesn’t seem worth the risk.

Coffee Brewing Methods

Coffee BrewOnce upon a time there was only the lowly percolator. Coiffed housewives would sit lovingly staring at water being heated until pressure forced it up a small tube and over a basket full of grounds.

Well, it was amusing to watch even if the coffee couldn’t be very good. Boiling coffee and running the liquid over grounds more than once can each produce a brew less than ideal.

Then in the 1970s, as with so many things, life changed forever. The drip method – inexpensive, quick and even an improvement in taste – came to dominate the scene. A cup of grounds thrown in a plastic container over filter paper, a few minutes of nearly boiling water dripping over the result and – voila! – coffee in a glass pot.

Later came pre-packaged ‘pods’ of a favorite blend, changes in materials and all sorts of controls to adjust the brew, and internal spouts that spread the water evenly over the grounds. Whether cone or flat, always near 200F (93C), please.

In the ’90s, espresso makers became the rage, with the importation of European culture and the application of American ingenuity to lower the cost without ruining the flavor. Hot water is forced under pressure through finely ground dark roast and in a few minutes, out pours a delicious, aromatic drink.

Add steamed, frothy milk and you have a cappuccino or latte, depending on the ratio of milk to coffee. A definite improvement and the variety of espresso makers makes for delightful experiments in chemistry.

The French plunger is another device aiding the spread of European methods, anywhere open-minded coffee innovators are seeking the new. A metal rod extends through the center of a glass cylinder, where it is topped with a handle. At the other end is a filter, fitting snugly inside the container.

Put grounds into the container and pour nearly boiling hot water in. Unlike the drip method, the grounds steep until the plunger is pressed. The result is a dark, full-bodied brew served right from the device.

One of the more esoteric brew methods uses the vacuum brewer: two glass or metal bowls, one atop the other. Heat causes water to rise into the upper, similar to the percolator principle. Remove the heat and as the liquid cools slightly a partial vacuum is created, drawing the hot water through the grounds and into the lower chamber.

The process is a pleasant show at a dinner party and a wonderfully fresh cup, since it can be carried out right at the table.

Of course, none of these methods is really new – most go back centuries in one form or another. The Ibrik from Turkey may be one of the oldest. Water is heated in a brass or copper container with a long handle and a grooved tongue. Finely ground coffee is added directly to the hot water and then poured, unfiltered. Strong!

Any of these will produce a delicious cup, but all bring out distinctive aspects of the ground. Try them all! You may find that a history lesson can also be a delectable taste tour.

Coffee Bean Growing

Organic Coffee Farm

Organic Coffee Farm

For a tree grown in over 70 countries, from Indonesia to Brazil, it’s curious how narrow a range of conditions is required to produce quality ‘beans’ and how relatively small the total output is.

The word ‘beans’ is deliberately in single-quote marks, since the thing that gets roasted and ground to make the drink isn’t really a bean at all, it’s a seed.

In particular, it’s the seed of a fruit that grows on trees that can easily reach twenty feet or more. Some wild varieties grow to over 45 feet or 15m. Most of those seeds come in a pair, though there is a variety that produces only one (the peaberry). The berry resembles a cranberry, with a sweet pulp covered by a membrane called a silverskin.

In a band around the equator from approximately 25 degrees north or south, comes the overwhelming majority of the world’s coffee output. Temperatures of between 60F (15C) and 70F (21C) are best as is rainfall of six inches per month or more.

Loamy, good-draining soil is needed and also helpful is high humidity – plenty of mist and cloud at the high elevations, over 3000 ft (915m) for the good stuff. At these elevations the oxygen content is lower, so the trees take longer to mature.

The robusta, or coffea canephora, goes into making the majority of coffee because it can be grown at lower altitudes and is more disease resistant. But it’s the high-altitude coffea arabica that forms the base of a gourmet cup.

Diffuse light and moderate winds are helpful, both of which are sometimes produced by deliberately growing in the shelter and shade. By contrast, wine grapes like hot sun and lots of it.

Once planted, the tree takes about five years to mature to first crop and even then a single tree will only make enough for about two pounds (1 kilogram) of coffee.

Those two pounds equal about 2,000 beans, (correct or not, it’s the standard term), usually hand-picked by manual laborers. Manual they may be, but ignorant they are not. Coffee bean harvesting is a skill developed over time, where the picker learns to select good beans and discard the bad. Bean by individual bean. That’s only one reason coffee is high priced.

The trees have broad, dark green leaves and produce a flower that resembles Jasmine. Some – in Brazil and Mexico, for example, – blossom over a six to eight week period. In countries that lie along the equator such as Kenya and Colombia, though, a tree can have mature berries growing alongside still ripening ones. That’s part of what makes picking such a specialty.

Blossom to harvest may cover a period of up to nine months depending on the weather and other factors and the cycle will be carried out for the life of the tree – about 20-25 years. With the best cultivation technology, a good harvest will be between 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) and 8,800 lbs (4,000 kg) per hectare. (One hectare is about 2.47 acres.)

From these inaccessible regions, where conditions are harsh, the berries are brought down and processed to make up the world’s second largest commodity (by annual dollar volume).

So, the next time you savor that brew, give a thought to the long journey it traveled to reach your cup. It might make that high price seem less steep.

Coffee Cupping, The Tasting Art

Morning coffeeWhy should professionals have all the fun? ‘Cuppers’ taste coffee as an adjunct to professional buying, judging contests, writing reviews and so forth. But the joy of sitting before a half-dozen cups of Tanzanian Peaberry, Monsoon Mysore and the rest is a delight anyone can experience.

The cupper tastes (and smells) for aroma, flavor, body, acidity, finish and a wide variety of more subtle attributes. To reproduce the professional setting at home one can start with a simple arrangement.

Have an ample supply of fresh, filtered water. Even the best grounds are spoiled by tainted water. Water can become ‘stale’, by absorbing odors from the air, by excessive distasteful minerals such as sulfur or even by the growth of mildew in pipes. Avoid distilled or softened water that retains too much of the softening salts.

A tray that holds a dozen small glasses or cupping bowls is handy. An assortment of measuring scoops, spoons, etc completes the tools. Of course, don’t forget the coffee!

Boil the water and grind the beans with a burr grinder set to different settings for the number of different trials desired. You’ll be surprised what a difference the fineness of the grind makes to the final result.

Prepare the coffee, allowing any samples to steep for a few minutes. Filter the coffee or allow to settle and spoon out a sample, then smell. Take the aroma in, running it through the nose and concentrating. Then taste, by running the liquid over the entire tongue. Hold for a few seconds, then spit into a container.

Think about the coffee’s profile. Is it woody or winey? Acidic or smooth? Syrupy or thin? Peppery or floral? It’s amazing how varied different coffees are, but given the wide variety of climates, soil and preparation methods it shouldn’t be too surprising.

Experiment with coffees of different countries – a Kenyan AA (darker, rougher) is quite different from a Colombian (more floral), which is different yet again from a Yemen Mocha (winey).

Try different roasts from light to very dark, American to Viennese. Change the grind from rough to very fine. Even with the same bean, modifying the roast and grind can make a big difference.

Generally you’ll want to have about two tablespoons (10 grams) of coffee for each six fluid ounces (180 ml) of water. Adjust as you experiment. The water should be not very far from 200F (93C), but you can adjust this too as you try different ‘recipes’.

Keep in mind some of the different attributes of the profile:

Acid – a tartness that tastes somewhat dry, noticeable in a Mexican, softer in a Sumatra brew. Aging can make a big difference here, as does the roast.

Aroma – the sensation produced by vapors, fruity or herb-like. Kona(s) are known for a floral aroma.

Bitter – From caffeine and other compounds, a robusta will generally be more bitter than an arabica. Sense by swishing on the back of the tongue.

Body – Degree of ‘thickness’, a light American roast will contrast sharply with a dark French, for example.

Nuttiness – Created by aldehydes and ketones, creates a sensation like roasted nuts. A sign, usually, of poor quality beans.

Sharpness – a sensation from the combination of acids and salts. Pronounced in inexpensive robusta.

Experiment with many different blends and brews and you’ll soon find yourself a true coffee snob!

Coffee – Legends and Reality

Coffee Bean Varieties

Coffee Bean Varieties

That a mere beverage could generate so many romantic tales and so much hard-headed business is a wonder. Yet from its beginnings to the present, this dark and pungent liquid has fascinated, cured and enriched billions the world over.

Legends abound about the origins of the coffee plant, but the most reliable histories put its discovery in Ethiopia somewhere around 500 BC. From there, after observing the stimulating effects of its berries, travelers brought it to Arabia, where it acquired the name.

The Renaissance gave birth not only to science and art, but the commercial production and known-world distribution of what would later be called ‘that heathenish liquid’. By the late 18th century both plantations and drinking popularity had spread to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South and North America and to every social class.

Throughout those long centuries the health effects ascribed to coffee border on the miraculous. But, as with most claimed miracles, there’s some fact at the bottom.

Some studies suggest that mammalian sperm swim faster, farther and longer in fluid laced with coffee. The theory is the caffeine stimulates them. One Harvard study followed over 100,000 individuals for almost 20 years, drawing the conclusion that moderate use can help reduce diabetes. Others show reduction in cirrhosis of the liver and decrease of asthma severity.

As with wine, the antioxidants in coffee have been touted as helping keep hearts healthier, though debates rage about whether the pros outweigh the cons. Coffee is a diuretic and encourages more frequent urination, and some assert that the stimulation from caffeine leads to long term nerve degeneration. Caffeine withdrawal can lead to increased sleeplessness. And, caffeine is a natural insecticide.

But for good or ill – or both – coffee is here to stay. The economics alone virtually guarantee that, since as a commodity coffee is second only in dollar volume to oil.

Whether traded on exchanges in London, New York, Hong Kong or Lima with over 400 billion cups consumed annually, this other ‘black gold’ only grows in popularity. Though only 10-20% (depending on country) of adults drink one or more cups daily, the total retail sales hovers near the $9 billion level annually.

Add to those figures the number of raw beans, grinders, roasters, brewers and cups bought for the home and the figures become astounding.

With the rise in both basic commodity and specialty retail prices, the future for coffee businesses continues to look bright. Starbucks alone has over 10,000 outlets around the world.

And specialty coffee shops are not the only outlet for a wide choice of blends and styles. Home roasters and brewers also can enjoy espresso, invented in 1901 and growing ever since. Straight shots, long shots or double shots are a snap now with home machines.

Mocha, Latte, and Cappuccino – all available by the addition of a few ingredients at the touch of a few buttons. Flavored coffees in as great a variety as wines are easy to make, with just a dash of vanilla, caramel or fruit flavorings.

With all that history, money, and delicious variety maybe the legends weren’t so far off after all.

Coffee Varieties Around The World

coffee and frangipani flowerOnce upon a time in America there was drip or instant, milk or sugar. Folger’s was the name of the game. Then, from Australian Skybury to Kenyan Peaberry, from Kona to Barcelona, the world exploded with options. Today there’s enough variety in choices of blend, country and style to boggle the greatest coffee aficionado.

Of course there is Brazil, the world’s largest producer for more than a century. Not surprising considering a third of its landmass is suitable for coffee tree growing. This South American powerhouse produces wonderful aromatic blends from Bahia and Minas Gerais.

Colombia, perhaps even better known – even though second in volume – makes a light, sweet delight that comes in ‘supremo’ or ‘excelso’. The coffees made from Popayan or Narino are surpassed nowhere.

But beyond these two giants of coffee bean production there lies a world of different blends that add their own distinctive colors to the spectrum of choices.

Mexico refuses to bow down to its better known South or Central American cousins. The small beans grown there produce a delicate body and light acidity, giving the coffee a mellow flavor. And Cuba, with its extremely strong cafe cubano – drunk like a shot of tequila – joins its Spanish relatives for a jolt.

Indonesia is well-known for its finely aged coffees, where the warm, damp climate slowly produces a drink with deep body and less acidity. As the fourth largest producer it isn’t likely to run out soon.

Malaysia won’t be cowed by its more famous neighbor, though. The venerable practice of brewing in a muslin bag, used to filter grounds, produces a strong cup. Even the lesser grade Liberica should be experienced at least once.

Even tiny Thailand weighs in with a chicory-tinged blend served with ice and condensed milk, for those who enjoy their coffee cold.

The Kona from Mauna Loa is sweet, medium-bodied and aromatic, while the Java from Sumatra is full-flavored and rich. Even the Beanya from Kenya, grown at 17,000 feet is smooth and deep, with a slight aftertaste that defies description.

But the practice of roasting and crushing beans then filtering through hot water, born in the 15th century, has produced many more delights for the coffee addict.

Naturally, the Europeans won’t take second place to anyone. France still favors its cafe au lait – half-coffee, half-milk. And Austria still values the two-thirds dark, one-third regular that has been a traditional Viennese blend for centuries.

Thanks to Luigi Bezzera in 1901 and later M. Cremonesi in 1938, there are Italian espressos to die for. And since they contain less caffeine than others, you can have two and not feel guilty. For those for whom that’s still too strong, there are the weaker latte and cappuccino (named for the hood on a monk’s habit).

But for my money, the good old American black is the coffee, the whole coffee, and nothing but the coffee.

There are as many beans and coffees from around the world as there are grapes and wine – and as much delight to be had in sampling them.

The Colombian is, rightly so, world-renowned. La Esperanza from Tolima, for example, is grown at almost 6,000 feet and the effect shows. High-toned with a delicate aroma and cherry-like it has hints of milk chocolate and pipe tobacco. Who knew such a mixture could actually taste wonderful?

Of course, the world’s second largest producer has much more to offer. The Supremo makes a complex brew with vanilla notes and hints of semi-sweet chocolate. Be sure to drink hot, as it fades fast.

Hopping over to Hawaii, the hand-picked Kona comes in both medium and dark roast. The latter has a very light acid with the medium making for slightly more. But the espresso roast remains a favorite, where the minimally acidic, dark and strong character really shines.

Jetting off to Africa we find a Tanzanian Peaberry, grown on the southern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Peaberries have a distinctive shape, making a single oval bean rather than the usual pair of flat-sided beans. One consequence is a higher acidity and lighter body. Climbers of the famous mountain can find a warming cup on their way up.

And while there, take a side jaunt to the legendary home of coffee – Ethiopia. The Yirgacheffe region is home to a citrusy brew that combines ginger, orange peel and lemon that’s both tart and chocolaty.

Trekking east to India we rest to take in another famous landmark – the Monsoon Malabar. The product of three months of the well-known wet winds, the puffy yellow beans make for a pungent brew with hints of apricot. But don’t leave without sampling one of the Jumboors, with its sweet raisin tones.

Continuing east to Indonesia we find ourselves in Sumatra, long known for the product from the Lake Toba region. A light roast, the cup is sweet and flowery. The original jasmine-like coffee flower has been retained to produce an astringent cup with cherry overtones.

And while there don’t forget about the northern provinces where the traditional dark roast gives a spicy, tropical fruit brew with hints of cedar and grapefruit.

A short flight to Vietnam puts us in a position to enjoy a Robusta from Lampung. The washing-drying-polishing process makes for a woody, astringent cup that competes well with its more high-toned Arabica cousin.

On the way home, a stopover in Jamaica provides an opportunity to discover an unusual source. The Jamaican peaberry, showing its African origins is a single bean. But the effect is altogether different. Full-bodied, sweetly acid, and full of floral notes this cup comes on strong.

Weary from the journey, but satisfied and satiated, we close our book of ‘Travels Around The Globe’ then turn out the light and switch off the coffee pot. Even with all that caffeine we should have no trouble sleeping.