Cool Beans!

Hey everybody, hope you are all looking forward to your weekend ahead!

This week I thought we could talk about the science behind the actual coffee beans – it’s easy to forget these days with your instant coffee and self-foaming drinks that once that your coffee was a little green bean thousands of miles away.

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The coffee plant (a tropical evergreen shrub, genus Coffea) started off  being grown in Africa and is now mainly grown in The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. If like me, you have no idea where that is then this picture should help.

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There are two main types of coffee beans that are used in commercial drinks and these are the Arabica and Robusta beans.

The Arabica plant has dark green leaves and is quite large. It takes around 7-9 months to be able to pick the cherries (where the beans live), which contain two seeds on average.

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Arabica Plant

In contrast the Robusta plant is a small tree which grows to about 10 metres. It takes the beans around 10-11 months to mature in this species. The beans are also more oval and smaller than Arabica.

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Robusta Plant

The overall trend for these beans is that the robusta is far more outgoing than the Arabica. Robusta can handle hotter temperatures (24-30°C vs 15-24°C) and are easier to grow and maintain. One reason for this is the level of caffeine you find inside.

The Robusta beans have about double the amount of caffeine. This is thought to be a safety mechanism as the bitter flavour deters insects from biting into their delicious flesh. This is why Arabica does better at higher altitudes as there are less pesky bugs hanging out there.

There is also an effect on the flavour as well.

Here are some quick-fire differences between the beans.

Arabica

Robusta

  • Stronger, harsher taste.
  • Twice as much caffeine but are a lower quality.
  • If good quality though they are good in espressos for their crema and flavour.
  • Easier to grow – less likely to get attacked by pests or the weather.
  • Produce more beans.

Although Arabica is the preferred bean to have in your coffee, a lot of places will put Robusta beans into their blends to reduce the cost, as these beans are way cheaper to produce.

Hope you enjoyed learning about the different types of beans in your coffee – now you can check what type you are having when you buy.

Have a good weekend and see you on Sunday!

#scienced

 

Photos sourced from: 

 

 

The coffee and the landfill (a classic romance)

Sunday mornings. They can be hectic – rushing around trying to get your last-minute errands done before the new week starts, or they can be chill and relaxing – the calm before the weekly chaos begins again. However, you spend it I think we can agree that a coffee in hand makes it a more pleasant experience.

Have you ever thought of how much your Sunday coffee is impacting the environment though? To the outside eye your takeaway coffee cup just looks a paper outside and plastic lid – however there are more sinister things lurking beneath the surface. The inner lining of the cup is made of polyethylene  plastic which can’t be recycled in New Zealand and so means every single take away cup you ever have had is on a landfill, as it becomes too costly to remove the plastic away from the paper.

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An alternative to polyethylene lined cups are reusable cups.

Five coffees a week results in 14kg of waste a year.

There is 1 million disposable cups put in landfill every minute

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Your sad, abandoned coffee cup.

There is now a move to make your takeaway cups compostable  instead. Most of the cup will be made of plant material instead. For example ecoware uses a plastic that is made from sugarcane or corn starch. These plastics (polylactic acid or polylactide) are not only biodegradable but also come from a renewable source. However, these cups can still not be recycled.

Compostable and and biodegradable mean different things too, so be careful and keep this in mind when companies market their products.

Compostable: Able to ‘disintegrate into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil.’

Biodegradable: Can be broken down quickly by microbes. It has also seen that plastics in landfills release methane gas which is contributing to global warming (which is 100% true, no matter what the FAKE NEWS says.)

It can be hard to guarantee that the café you visit has these compostable cups though, so if you want to take matters into your own hands you can always buy a reusable cup.

I recently purchased a cup off http://nz.keepcup.com/ and love it!! The site allows you to pick your own colour scheme as well as picking from a range of types and colours.  These cups are also made of fully recyclable materials so can be shipped off at the end of its life (which is apparently 3 years +).  During these 3 years, you alone would have contributed 2.7 kgs of plastic to the landfill. The only downside of these is carrying them around – but are fine if you know in advance you are getting a drink.

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Baristas are always happy to use other cups (it makes less dishes for them) 👍

Another alternative is always to take a break and sit down and enjoy a nice ol’ fashioned have here coffee.

Happy drinking friends! Hope you are now enlightened to the effects of your weekly coffee cups. 😀

#scienced