Cocoa and chocolate are manufactured from the seed of a tree, Theobroma cacao, grown in tropical America. The seeds, when removed from the containing pod, are fermented to improve the flavor, dried, cleaned, roasted, and finally ground. The outer husk is loosened in the roasting, and is then removed, and sold as "cocoa shells." It is the basis of a cheap beverage with an agreeable flavor. The first crushing of the seeds gives cocoa "nibs," and these are further ground in a mill, and finally molded into the cake of plain chocolate. The addition of sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and sometimes other spices gives a variety of sweet chocolates. Powdered cocoa is prepared by the removal of the fat, which is a valuable product in itself, sugar and flavorings are added and sometimes a starch. The Dutch manufacturers use alkalies for removing the crude fiber and improving the color, and the consequent loss of flavor is balanced by the use of other flavoring matter. The adulterations of cocoa are largely starch in excess. The French and American cocoas are flavored with vanilla, the Dutch manufacturers using cinnamon as well.
The so-called soluble cocoas are very finely ground, and therefore mix readily with water, remaining in suspension for some time, but the cocoa itself is not dissolved. Powdered cocoa is bought in tin cans, is cheap, and is even more economical if bought in large cans than in small. Chocolate is more expensive always than the cocoa, and may be bought in cakes in pound packages, or in powdered form for immediate use.
Coffee is the inner seed of a berry from a tree, Coffea arabica, the process of manufacture consisting of the removal of the outer pulp, fermentation, washing, drying, and roasting. The first stages of the process are carried on at the coffee plantation, the raw berries being imported, and roasted shortly before using. The roasting in cocoa, coffee, and tea is necessary for desirable flavors, the heat developing volatile, aromatic principles, caramelizing the sugar, and causing other chemical changes. The differences in the flavor of coffees are due to the variety, the soil and climate, and methods of production and manufacture. No coffee grown in the western hemisphere has excelled, and scarcely has any equaled, the original Mocha and Java coffees, and these have long been trade names for coffee from other places, because of the popular liking for these brands. Brazil is now the great coffee producing country of the world, and from South and Central America and the West Indies we obtain coffee of excellent flavor.
The adulterations of coffee should be noted, although these are of the kind that gives the buyer something cheaper in place of coffee, rather than a substance that is injurious. Ground chicory root is sometimes mixed with coffee, but cannot be classed strictly as an adulterant, because many people, notably the French, add it openly, preferring its flavor. Among adulterants are rye meal, bran, beans and peas, cocoa shells, and even sawdust. Artificial beans have been made of bran, molasses, and water, sometimes with the addition of chicory and coloring matter. If ground coffee is put into a glass of cold water, it floats on the top and remains hard, while several of the adulterants named soften and sink to the bottom of the glass. Highly roasted coffee, however, will sometimes sink. Coffee beans from which coffee extract has been made are sometimes mixed with other coffee.
Coffee extracts and crystallized coffee are manufactured to simplify the coffee-making process, but the flavor is not equal to that of coffee infusion made directly from the bean. A preparation of coffee is also offered with the caffeine removed by some chemical process, but it is expensive in this country.
Buy coffee in the bean, and see that it is freshly roasted. Coffee, whole or ground, is sold extensively by the pound in tin cans, with a fancy label and name, and in this form it is usually expensive. Good coffee may be bought for twenty-five cents a pound of many reliable dealers, and may be purchased in five or ten pound packages, or bought in bulk to be kept in a tightly closed can.
Tea is the dried leaf of a shrub, Camellia thea, growing in the comparatively high lands of Japan, China, India, and Ceylon. A tea plantation exists in South Carolina, U.S.A., and furnishes a very pleasing grade of tea, somewhat resembling Japan tea in flavor. We are familiar with the fact that there are many kinds and grades of tea, the tea shrub varying as does the coffee tree, and the methods of curing affecting both color and flavor. The teas from the countries named have characteristic flavors, and each country has different varieties and grades. Russian tea is not grown in Russia, but is Chinese tea carried across the continent of Asia.
In general, tea may be classed as green or black, this difference in color depending upon the age of the leaf, and largely upon differences in the curing process. Green tea is made from the young leaf, and after picking is dried immediately by artificial heat, being constantly stirred for about an hour, in which time the leaves twist and curl. For black tea the leaves are allowed to wilt and ferment, before they are rolled and heated; and sometimes the heating is repeated. These details of the process vary in different localities. The leaves are finally sorted and graded for packing.
Both black and green teas are made in China. "Bohea" is one of the famous black Chinese teas. "English Breakfast Tea" is known as such only in America, and is a blend of black teas. Black tea is not so successfully made in Japan as in China. "Oolong," from the island of Formosa, has the appearance of a black tea, with the flavor of a green. In Japan and China old-time methods prevail, with much handling of the tea leaves, but in Ceylon and India modern machinery makes the process a much more cleanly one.
Another classification of tea is that depending upon the age and size of the leaf, the young leaf making the finer grade tea. For example, in the black teas of India "flowety pekoe" is made from the youngest leaf, "orange pekoe" from the second, "pekoe " from the third, and "souchong " and "congou" come from the larger leaves.
The adulterations of tea are usually the leaves of other plants, but as a matter of fact very little adulterated tea is imported. The first grades of teas, however, and those most highly prized by the Chinese and Japanese, seldom find their way to America.