The coffee tree (caffaea arabica) belongs to the same botanical family as the tiny partridge berry found in our northern woods, the familiar button bush of the country roadside, and the gardenia.

COFFEE BEANS AND BLOSSOMS.

COFFEE BEANS AND BLOSSOMS.

Native Home

It is native to Abyssinia, western Africa, and perhaps western Arabia, though it has now been naturalized in a large number of tropical countries. It blooms eight months in the year and with its small fragrant, white blossoms in the axils of the glossy evergreen leaves, it presents an attractive appearance. The ripe coffee berry is dark in color and is a pulpy fruit, somewhat resembling a cherry. The berries have two cells, each containing a single seed, the coffee bean. Three gatherings of coffee are generally made annually. The ripe fruit is dried and then freed from skin and pulp, usually by machinery.

In the east a decoction is frequently made of the unroasted seeds, while in some places the leaf of the tree is used for preparing a drink; and it is said that in the Sultan's coffee the dried pulp of the berry is employed.

Roasting

The roasting of coffee so generally practiced, is chiefly for the purpose of developing its flavor and rendering the beans brittle so that they can be more easily ground, though it has other effects also. Coffee is imported from Mocha, Java, Ceylon, Maracaibo, Porto Rico, and other countries. But 75 per cent of that used in this country comes from Brazil. Our Mocha and Java mixtures are simply different kinds of berries from the same plant.

Preparation

Coffee, unlike tea. may properly' be prepared either as an infusion or a decoction; that is, it may be extracted without boiling, or it may be boiled.

Constituents

The important constituents of coffee are caffeine and caffetannic acid, and caffeol, the oil that gives the fragrant aroma and flavor. Caffeol is developed by the process of roasting while the amount of caffeine is lessened. Sugar is present in considerable amounts, and most of this is caramelized in the roasting. Fat also is found, sometimes to as much as 15 per cent, and proteid to about 10 per cent. A comparison of the composition of tea and coffee is given below:

PICKING COFFEE BERRIES.

PICKING COFFEE BERRIES.

Percentage Composition Of Coffee

Raw.

Roasted.

Moisture ................

8.98

0.63

Caffeine .........................

1.08

0.82

Saccharine matter ...................

9.55

0.43

Caffeic acid.......................

8.46

474

Alcoholic extract...

6.90

14.14

Fat and oil........................

12.60

13.59

Lugumin and albumen.............

9.87

11.23

Dextrin ...........

0.87

1.24

Cellulose and insoluble coloring matter.........................

37.95

48.62

Ash ................

374

4.56

Percentage Composition Of Tea

Unprepared Leaves.

Green Tea.

Black Tea.

Caffeine or theine.........

.... 3.30

3.20

3.30

Ether extract ............

.... 6.49

5.52

5.82

Hot-water extract ........

... .50.97

5374

47.23

Tannin (as gallolannic acid)

. .12.91

10.64

4.89

Other nitrogen-free extract

....27.86

31-43

35.39

Crude protein...

....37.33

37.43

38.90

Crude fibre...

... .10.44

10.06

10.07

Ash ....................

... . 4.97

4.92

4.93

Nitrogen...

• ••• 5.97

5.99

6.22

Composition Of Decoctions

This does not give a fair estimate of the composition of the drinks since we use more coffee to the cup than tea. Hutchison finds that a cup of black coffee contains nearly the same amount of caffeine and tannin as a cup of tea. This depends, of course, very largely upon the methods of preparation. It is generally considered that with our ordinary methods that less tannin is present in coffee than in tea.

Coffee Berry And Leaf, Natural Size.

Coffee Berry And Leaf, Natural Size. From Bulletin No. 25, Division of Botany- U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Adulterants

The adulterants of coffee are many. One of the commonest is chicory. In France this is often used in order to add a desired flavor. Other adulterants that have been found are roasted peas, beans, wheat, brown bread, charcoal, red slate, and dried pellets consisting of ground peas, pea hulls and cereals held togethei with molasses. These are met with only in ground coffee. Although at one time artificial coffee beans were manufactured to some extent, they are said to be seldom found today. The adulteration of un-ground coffee consists rather of the substitution or admixture of cheap or inferior varieties. A simple rough test for the detection of adulteration in coffee consists in shaking some of the sample in cold water. The pure coffee usually floats on the surface while most of the adulterants sink, the grains of chicory coloring the water a brownish red as they fall. Sometimes adulteration can be detected if ground coffee is spread out upon a paper and examined with a magnifying glass. A better protection is afforded, however, by purchasing the coffee unground.