The multiple factors of coffee quality
Colombia has been characterized by its good coffee. Geographical conditions are propitious to grow and harvest Arabica coffee of delicious flavor and aroma, and coffee farming has become a part of the national identity. Precisely, Buencafé has positioned itself in the whole world for its 100% Colombian freeze-dried soluble coffee, generating added value to farmers, something very appreciated by consumers.
Currently consumers are more aware of importance of the species and origin of the coffee they consume, because quality of the drink depends largely on these factors. In addition, they also recognize the effort and dedication of producers, the genetic material employed, and the arduous harvesting and post-harvesting work, which have a decisive effect on quality and higher economic value in the market.
Coffee quality depends on many factors, including not only the species and variety cultivated, but also location, the picking method, the post-harvest processing, the types of marketing and packaging, and transportation to final destination.
Importance of species and origin
It is already well known that Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (Robusta) are the two main coffee species of commercial value in the world. These two species have differences in their shapes, climate and environmental requirements, chemical compositions, taste, flavor, and aroma. The two species have also important differences regarding their content of caffeine, trigonelline, lipids, chlorogenic acids, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides; many of these compounds are directly related to the organoleptic characteristics of the beverage.
For the purpose of simplifying classification of origin and botanical species, and classifying the prices that are recognized for the different types of coffee, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) distinguishes four main types of coffee:
- Colombian milds (Arabica)
- Brazilian naturals (Arabica)
- Other mild coffees (Arabica).
>>You might also want to read “The new Colombian coffee farming”
Quality and its attributes
Specialists and sophisticated coffee consumers are used to evaluate sensorial attributes of the coffee beverage. These can vary depending on the place of origin, the production methods, and the harvest and the postharvest processes.
The main organoleptic or sensorial qualities that are used to evaluate the beverage are:
Aroma: The power of the coffee aroma is so notorious that many people consider that it is better to inhale its colorful aroma than to actually drink the beverage.
Flavor: Though experts’ terms to describe coffee often seem complex, the casual coffee drinker knows that taste is what explodes in the mouth and remains for some time in the palate. The expert tasters can describe flavors as smooth, sweet, earthy, acidic, chemical, fruity, pronounced or high and proper of coffee.
Body: It corresponds to the lingering effect that coffee leaves in the mouth and how it moves from tongue to throat. A good coffee has a full body that is moderate and balanced. The body is associated with cultivation in regions with higher temperatures and lower altitudes.
Bitterness: It is a normal coffee characteristic due to its chemical composition. It is desirable in moderate quantities.
Acidity: It is that light spicy spark that one’s tongue feels and that makes the drinker shiver for a moment. Acidity can be one of the most desired attributes of coffee, and is correlated to average annual temperature of coffee farming and consequently to altitude at which it is grown.
Global impression: It refers to general assessment of the beverage. Through this quality the coffee is either accepted or rejected, and it is related to aromas perceived through the olfactory sense, as well as the body, degree of bitterness and acidity, which are perceived by the palate. Judged by coffee perception, one should conclude that a premium quality coffee should have a consistent combination of aromas, flavors, body, and acidity.
Amongst natural factors that determine coffee quality attributes, selection of the species and variety, the altitude and latitude that determine average annual temperature, as well as soil and climate characteristics stand out the most. These attributes can also be modified through specific production methods, which can either positively or negatively affect them.
Colombian coffee is exceptional. It is an outstanding coffee that has been selected and adapted from diverse varieties derived exclusively from the Arabica species (that is to say, tetraploids with over 44 chromosomes), which grows in the high Andes mountain range of Colombia where temperatures are ideal throughout the year, and where coffee can naturally generate characteristics and attributes exceptionally valued by even the most sophisticated consumers.
Additionally, it is an artisanal coffee that is wet processed, containing hours of human effort and dedication by thousands of committed and proud producers eager to provide an excellent cup of coffee. It is not just a washed Arabica coffee. It is also a mild coffee produced on a special land with a complex cultivation and post-harvesting process behind each bean.
Quality classifications, 2010. Colombia. Colombian coffee. Retrieved from http://www.cafedecolombia.com/particulares/es/sobre_el_cafe/el_cafe/clasificaciones_de_calidad/