Coffee Culture in South Africa has evolved from the days when a mixture of chicory and coffee was deemed just fine. Now we’re up there with the rest of the world.
We know our lattés from our cappuccinos; our Americanos from our macchiatos; a barista from an amateur.
Here are a dozen more facts about everyone’s favourite bean
- Coffee tree fruit are referred to as cherries and, depending on the cultivar can be red or yellow.
- Coffee trees grow well in sun but prefer shade and thus can grow in forests without indigenous trees being felled.
- Being thirsty trees, they require a lot of water and in times of drought have to be irrigated.
- The flowers smell like Gardenias.
- Roasting brings out the tantalising aroma of coffee.
- After the sticky fruit pulp – the mucilage – has been removed from the cherries through soaking and fermenting – the beans are spread on drying racks where they remain for up to three weeks.
- Once the beans are dry, they’re put through a machine to remove the shells before they’re sorted into sizes then roasted.
- Raw/green coffee beans do not taste good!
- Roasting causes pyrolysis that breaks down fats and carbohydrates into the oils that provide the aroma and most of the taste of coffee.
- Owner of Assagay Coffee Farm in KZN, Rick James says that coffee is indigenous to Ethiopia where it was first drunk in the 1400’s. When the Arabs arrived, they began to trade coffee on the Spice Route and called it Arabic, hence the name Arabica.
- Arabica coffee is considered superior to Robusta which is higher in caffeine, more bitter, and is used to make instant coffee.
- Coffee drunk in moderation is considered to have beneficial properties. For one thing it’s high in antioxidants. Also, says Rick James, studies show it helps with weight loss and in preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Words and Photography Andrea Abbott
A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.