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Coffee is a flavorful liquid brewed from coffee beans.





Since coffee seeds are held within the pulp of the fruit, the pulp must be crushed and removed.[1] After this, the beans ferment slightly in order to get rid of the mucilage surrounding the hull before drying completely.[1] The hull is cracked to expose the seeds, called coffee beans.[2]



Coffee beans naturally contain a good amount of caffeine, but some coffee beans are treated to remove it before roasting. This can either be done by treating the beans with a solvent or scraping away the outer caffeinated layer.[3][4]

Roasted coffee beans



Because the green, raw beans don't have much complexity of flavor, they must be roasted.[5][6] This can occur over a range of temperatures (180–240°C/350–465°F) and times (10–35 minutes) to produce the desired final effect.[1] This process causes them to darken and brown, developing the characteristic finished coffee flavor.[4][7] Typically, the lighter the roast, the sweeter the profile; and, the darker the roast, the stronger and more bitter.[7]

After roasting, beans may be treated with a flavoring component (e.g. vanilla, chocolate, spices).[4]



In most circumstances, coffee beans must be ground to a powder prior to use, either by the manufacturer or the consumer. The finer the grind, the less time necessary to properly brew the coffee, the sooner it can become overbrewed, and vice versa. As such, fine grinds are used for speedy preparation methods like espresso, while coarse grinds are better for drip.[4]



There are a number of ways to brew coffee—in all methods, ground coffee beans and water are combined, with the water extracting the aromatic compounds in the beans. Typically, this is done by either steeping the ground beans in water or forcing hot water through the grounds.[4]

After brewing, liquid coffee may be dehydrated to produce instant coffee powder—this can be combined with water to immediately make coffee without needing to brew it.[3]



Coffee contains caffeine in a relatively high quantity, which can cause alertness and increased sense of energy when consumed.



Coffee beans come in two main classes, which contributes to their flavor profile. Robusta beans are more common, though considered slightly inferior, and arabica beans are considered higher quality.[5][4] Additionally, the geographic growing region and other environmental conditions will also affect the flavor of the beans—as such, beans are often named after region of origin.[4]



After bean type, coffee beans can be further categorized by their degree of roasting, which typically ranges from light to medium and dark roasts. As the beans get darker and more roasted, they become oilier and develop a more complexly bitter flavor. Roasts may also be named slightly unintuitively, such as with "city" roast, "French" roast, and more.[4][8]

Selection and storage


Coffee beans are best fresh, and their flavor will degrade as they age. Surface area plays a large part in the degradation process, so ground coffee degrades considerably faster than whole coffee beans.[3] The degradation process is also accelerated by oxidation, so roasted coffee should be stored in airtight containers—and even in the freezer—to minimize oxidation.[3][4] But in general, freshly ground, newly roasted beans will always give a better cup of coffee than pre-ground, older beans.

Once brewed, coffee still has a pretty short lifespan and should be used fresh. Excessive heating and oxidation will again degrade the flavor, so it's not recommended to keep brewed coffee on a heat source for very long.[4]



Many factors in the brewing process contribute to the final product. Clean fresh water is necessary, and the temperature of the water will have some bearing on the result as well. Cooler water will not extract flavors as efficiently as hot water, but boiling water can make an overly bitter brew, especially with very dark roasts. Lastly, the coarseness of the grind and the ratio of grounds to water are also important and vary according to the brewing method used. If you want stronger brewed coffee, use a higher ratio of ground coffee to water, rather than brewing for longer.[4]

French press


In this method, the grounds are placed into the bottom of a vessel, and hot water is poured onto them. The mixture sits for a few minutes, then a mesh strainer is pushed down onto the mass, and the coffee is poured off to drink. French presses are also suitable for use in cold brewing (see below).



In America, this is the most common brewing method. Here, the grounds are placed in a basket with a non-reactive liner and a small hole in the bottom. Hot water is poured over the grounds, where it soaks them and steeps for a short time while being slowly forced by gravity through the hole into the container below.[4] A good ratio for drip coffee is 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee for every 6–7 oz water.[4] Bring the water just to a boil, then pour slowly over the grounds, stirring gently. Stirring will result in the grounds retaining some extra water, but do not try to squeeze the water out—when it stops dripping, the coffee is ready to drink.


Italian-style moka percolator

In modern espresso machines, a fine grind of strong coffee is packed into a small metal container with a hole in the bottom. Pressurized water is quickly forced through the grounds into the pot below.[4] A higher percentage of coffee solids are dissolved and extracted under pressure, creating an end product with more concentrated flavor. A moka-style percolator can also be used. Here, water is placed in the lower section, with the raw coffee grounds in the mid-section. As the water boils, it turns to steam—this creates enough pressure to force all the water from the lower section up through the grounds and into the upper reservoir. A good guide for making espresso is ¼ oz (7 g) ground beans per 1½ oz (45 ml) water.[4]

Cold brew


In cold brewing, heat is replaced with time. Here, the ground coffee is steeped at room temperature for 8–12 hours before straining. One proposed argument here is that cold-brewed coffee is less bitter than hot-brewed.[4]



The most common way to consume coffee is as a beverage, either plain or with milk/cream, sugar, or other flavorings.[4] A variety of classic beverages exist, including but not limited to the following:[3][4]

  • Latte: Espresso and steamed milk
  • Cappuccino: espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk
  • Mocha: espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate
  • Americano: espresso and water



Coffee is sometimes used in recipes, especially desserts but also savory dishes, where the bitterness adds complexity of flavor.[9] It goes well with many spices, and the flavour of chocolate is known to be enhanced by the addition of a small amount of coffee. Notable preparations that always or may include coffee include tiramisu, custards, and ice cream.[2][3][5]

When used as an ingredient, coffee tends to be incorporated in one of the following options. The first is to simply incorporate coffee brewed with water directly into the recipe. If a different liquid is being used, the coffee can be steeped in that instead.[2][10] Instant coffee powder is also an easy option, as it readily dissolves into a dish without needing to add a large volume of liquid.[10]




  1. a b c Friberg, Bo (2016-09-13). The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-46629-2.
  2. a b c Labensky, Sarah; Martel, Priscilla; Damme, Eddy Van (2015-01-06). On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals, Updated Edition. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-13-388675-7.
  3. a b c d e f Rinsky, Glenn; Rinsky, Laura Halpin (2008-02-28). The Pastry Chef's Companion: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for the Baking and Pastry Professional. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-00955-0.
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  5. a b c The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu (2011-12-02). Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  6. deMan, John M.; Finley, John W.; Hurst, W. Jeffrey; Lee, Chang Yong (2018-02-09). Principles of Food Chemistry. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-63607-8.
  7. a b Varelis, Peter; Melton, Laurence; Shahidi, Fereidoon, eds. (2019). Encyclopedia of food chemistry. Vol. 1. Vol. 1. Oxford: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-12-816848-6.
  8. "Coffee Roasts Guide". Retrieved 2024-04-12.
  9. Ruhlman, Michael (2008). The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen. Black Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-86395-143-2.
  10. a b The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) (2015-02-25). Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-92865-3.