Stimulating Beverages

 

 

1.     Most coffee comes from the seeds of Coffea arabica, a tree native to the mountains of Ethiopia, in northeastern Africa.

2.     They are grown in tropical areas

a.      Long rainy season (60-100” / yr)

b.     2-3 month dry season

c.     Cool highlands: 5-6,500’ in elevation

d.     Mild temperature (intolerant of frost)

3.     Although native to Africa, relatively few Africans drank coffee.

a.      The earliest records report that natives used to chew the leaves and fruits gathered from the wild.

b.     Caffeine leached out of the leaves and fruits during chewing.

c.     Eating the beans whole is still a practice in Africa, where hosts greet house guests with a handful of coffee beans.

4.     It was much later on that the beans were crushed, mixed with fat, and eaten as a compressed cake. These were often taken along on hunts as a survival staple similar to the pemmican (dried buffalo meat and fat) used by the Native Americans.

5.     The practice of roasting the beans (seeds) and producing what we recognize as coffee began in the 13th century in Yemen, in the southern Arabian Peninsula.

 

Botany

1.     Coffea arabica is from the Madder family (Rubiaceae).

2.     Small, evergreen tree/shrub, with white, fragrant flowers and opposite green leaves

a. flowers open in morning but fade by midday

3.     Wild coffee grows as an understory tree beneath the canopy of taller tree species, especially leguminous trees.

a. the leguminous trees add nitrogen to the soil via associated nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

4.     The ripened fruit of coffee is a berry, a red berry.

5.     Within the endocarp are 2 seeds (called beans)

a.      gray-green in color

b.     flattened where they are pressed together, grooved on other side

c.     covered by a silver skin (testa – the membranous structure surrounding each of the seeds)

d.     occasionally, only one seed is present in the fruit, owing to the abortion of one of the ovules.  The single seed is round, since it has more room for symmetrical development, and is known as a pea-berry: Coffea arabica var monosperma

 

Harvest

 

1.     Fruits are mostly picked by hand

a.      the berries on each stem ripen at different times (only a few can be picked at a time),

b.     they are often grown on steep hillsides, too steep to use heavy machinery.

 

2.     Once harvested, the coffee fruits are washed and depulped to avoid decay (by fermentation)

3.     The beans are then dried in the hot sun, often on a concrete surface, and raked frequently to keep them turned.

4.     The beans are then graded and roasted, to be ground later at the time of use.

 

Roasting

 

1.     Before seeds are used they must be roasted.

2.     This process is left until almost the last moment before consumption.

3.     It is during roasting that the characteristic aroma of coffee develops.

4.     Aroma depends on an essential oil, caffeol, which is volatile, and evaporates if roasted beans are exposed to air for any length of time.

5.     So, only freshly roasted coffee should be used for preparation of the beverage.

6.     The stimulant in the coffee is the alkaloid, caffeine, and is present in the seeds at an average concentration of 1-3%.

 

Light roasts - preferred in North America; accomplished at temperatures of 212-218 C (414-424 F)

Dark roasts - produced at higher temperatures; the higher the temperature the darker the beans. Dark Brown Vienna roasts (240 C temp.), Black French roasts (250 C temp).

 

General rule

1.     The lighter the bean, the milder and sweeter the coffee.

2.     The darker the bean, the stronger and less sweet the coffee.

3.     Dark-roast beans are larger than light-roast beans because they swell more during roasting, and they feel oily because their higher roasting temperatures cause some of the aromatic oils to come to the surface.

The strength of the brew relates only to the flavors and aromas, not to the concentration of the caffeine.

 

When beans are roasted:

          1. Starches become converted to sugars. This begins when temps reach ca. 207 C (405 F). At slightly higher temps, 212-218 C, sugars begin to caramelize, and bean turns brown. At 238 C (460 F), carbonization begins as the sugar burns, leaving only the carbon that darkens the bean.

2. Other reactions include the release of substances such as the essential oil, caffeol, that gives coffee its characteristic aroma.

3.       Roasting helps break down cell walls, which aids in grinding.

 

Ecology

 

1.     Coffee is traditionally grown under a canopy of shade trees, areas of relatively high biodiversity.

a.      In Latin America, where 32% of the world's coffee is grown, coffee plantations serve as refuges for native plants and animals.

b.     Compared with many kinds of agriculture, traditional coffee growing disturbs the forest comparatively little.

c.     Mature, native rainforest forest trees are mostly left in place when coffee trees were planted using traditional methods.

d.     Cattle raising or rice farming clear all vegetation, causing not only rapid depletion of nutrients from the soil and erosion, but also the virtual elimination of the native fauna and flora.

 

2.     The modern system (sun plantations) is characterized by: 

a.      a reduction in shade,

b.     increased reliance on new high-yield varieties,

c.     increase in chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides that kill native species and pollute rivers and soils).

d.     However, with the loss of canopy cover, modern plantations become more prone to water and soil runoff (threatening the long-term sustainability of the system), a loss of biodiversity, loss of environmental buffering, and a loss of jobs.

 

 

Decaffeinated coffee  

1.     Various solvents are used to extract 99.7% of the caffeine from green, unroasted beans that have been softened by steam.

2.     Solvent is then rinsed thoroughly from the beans.

3.     Methylene chloride is one compound.

a.      In 1989, FDA banned use of this compound in hair sprays, since lab animals who inhaled methylene chloride developed cancer.

b.     Hasn’t yet been banned from decaffeination process.

c.     Methylene chloride has also been implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer, and has been banned as a solvent in Europe.

d.     Many companies have switched to ethyl acetate as a substitute.

5.     After solvent extraction, the solvents are recycled, coffee beans are set aside for roasting, and the caffeine is sold –

a.      additive in soft drinks, added to headache and cold medicines.

 

6. Another method involves solubility of caffeine in water – caffeine is dissolved out of coffee, filtered through charcoal to bind caffeine molecules. (Caffeine cannot be recovered and sold a by-product; therefore, ore expensive.)

 

Instant coffee - (the dried, soluble - powder or granules - portion of roasted coffee, the residue from the process is used as an animal feed.)

1.     Created by Japanese chemist in 1901.

2.     During WW1, instant coffee was shipped to U.S. troops overseas. First widespread use of instant coffee.

3.     To manufacture instant coffee –

a.      brewed coffee is dehydrated by spray drying:

b.     hot coffee is sprayed through high pressure nozzles into tall rooms.

c.     As coffee falls, the water evaporates, leaving a dry powder.

d.     Powder can be made to appear granular by mixing it with steam or water.

4.     Freeze-drying is the latest innovation in dehydration process. Freezing under a vacuum dehydrates the coffee and produces coffee crystals.

 

 

 

 

 

History of coffeehouses and miscellany

 

1. By 1500, coffee trees were widely planted and cultivated in Yemen, and coffee drinking had spread rapidly throughout the Arabic world. (Ethiopia was the first to brew coffee).

 

2. Words like mocha, kava, coffee are all derived from Arabic.

 

3. Coffee houses were established to accommodate the growing popularity of coffee drinking.

The first coffee houses were in Constantinople , 1554, (modern day Istanbul, Turkey).

By 1625, thousands of coffee houses were established in Cairo, Egypt.

From the beginning, however, coffee houses were controversial: religious leaders felt that time spent in coffee houses could be better spent in mosques. Political leaders felt threatened by political discussions common in coffee houses.

Although there were efforts to outlaw them, coffee houses remained an integral part of Arab culture.

Coffee houses fulfilled its most important social role: as a center for communication. In a period that still no daily newspaper, it functioned as a news center.

(For years the Arabs monopolized the coffee trade and tried to prevent the cultivation of coffee by other countries. They shrewdly dipped the seeds in boiling water before marketing to kill the embryos and prevent germination).

Before England was a tea-drinking country it was a coffee-drinking country. Coffeehouses in Oxford – “penny universities”

(It was primarily the devastation of the coffee crop in British holdings that persuaded England to pursue tea as the national beverage…i.e. along with the monopoly of the tea trade by the British East India Co.).

 

The first coffee house in North America opened in Boston, MA in 1669. They provided meeting places for businessmen and merchants.

Three hundred years later, in the 1960s, coffee houses had a resurgence and became focal points of political thought and socially conscious folk music.

Today - coffee houses are popular once again, specializing in gourmet and exotic blends of coffee.  Thousands of coffee houses have opened in Japan in the past 25 years.

 

The association of coffee with Islam, and later, Protestantism.

1. As a non-alcoholic, non-intoxicating, indeed even sobering and mentally stimulating drink, coffee was tailor-made for a culture that forbade alcohol consumption and gave birth to mathematics.

(The beans were first used to keep worshippers awake through long vigils; later they acquired social status).

 

2. As for Protestantism and Europe, remember that prior to the introduction of the potato, beer was second only to bread as the main source of nourishment for most central and northern Europeans.

          a. An English family in the latter half of the 17th century (when coffee drinking was catching on among the upper classes) consumed about 3 liters of beer per person per day, children included.

b. It took both the Puritan campaign against “demon alcohol”, and the availability of an alternative to alcohol to make a significant transition from alcohol to the stimulating beverages in the 17th century.

e. Coffee was the beverage of sobriety. And coffee was thought to curb sexual urges. So you can see the ideological forces behind this reorientation: sobriety and abstinence have always been the battle cry of the puritanical movement.

f. This was the beverage of the Protestant Revolution – it enhanced mental activity, speeded up perception and judgement, made thoughts clearer, and did all this without any subsequent depression. It was the beverage of rationalism, of the Industrial Revolution, of factories, of uniformity, of clock-time.

g. Coffee achieved chemically and pharmacologically what rationalism and the Protestant ethic sought to fulfill spiritually and ideologically.

 

 

 

Tea (Camellia sinensis or Thea sinensis) Theaceae

 

Tea is not as important an international commodity as coffee (in terms of international trade) but is probably drunk by a greater number of people. (World’s most popular beverage next to water).

 

Most of the tea produced is consumed locally, with the result that comparatively small quantities enter international trade.

Similar to rice.

 

Origins: 2 legends

1.       According to the Chinese: tea was discovered by the Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BCE when a tea leaf accidentally fell into water that was being boiled for drinking.

2.       According to India:  the first tea plant sprang from the eyelids of a pious monk who was a follower of Bodhidharma (founder of Zen Buddhism). The monk was meditating and vowed to stay awake until Buddha's work on earth was completed but, altho he tried valiantly to stay awake, he fell asleep after many days. When he awoke, the monk was so mortified by his weakness that he tore off his eyelids. Buddha, pleased by the intentions of his follower, caused the eyelids to sprout into tea plants when they touched the ground. Tea was thus thought to have been a gift from Buddha to aid people in their vigils and meditations by keeping them awake, and at the same time enhancing the peaceful, harmonic state necessary for contemplation.

 

Botany

 

1.       Unlike coffee and cacao, which are made from ground seeds, tea is made from the dried leaf tips of the species, Camellia sinensis, a small tree or shrub, native to the area adjoining Tibet, India, China, Burma (Myanmar).

2.       Altho the plant can grow to a height of 7-10 m, the cultivated tea plant is pruned to encourage shrubby growth, and kept at ca. 1 m in height, with a flat top that facilitates easy plucking or hand harvesting of the new leaves.

3.       Shrub is evergreen. Plants flourish in tropical-subtropical climates where there is abundant rainfall and no danger of frost.

4.       Plants are largely self-sterile and, therefore, cross-pollinating. They were mostly propagated by seed. Consequently, individual plants may vary considerably from one to another because of genetic recombination. Today, plants obtained from the rooting of cuttings are most commonly used because they ensure uniformity of a particular hybrid variety.

5.       For best quality teas, only the terminal bud and top 2 leaves of each branch are harvested. These parts contain the highest quantities of caffeine and other constituents that give tea its flavor.

6.       Plucking stimulates the plants to produce new shoots or flushes with tender young leaves and buds. New flushes appear every 1-2 wks. After 10 ys. or so, the whole shrub may be pruned to the ground allowing sucker shoots to produce new growth.

 

Harvesting and Processing

 

1.       All teas begin as green tea.

2.       Harvested lvs. may be treated in 1 of 3 ways to produce black tea, green tea, or oolong tea.

3.       Black tea - in U.S., 95% of the tea is black tea or fermented tea.

a.     Processing of black tea begins with withering.

b.     Freshly picked lvs. are dried on racks, where hot, dry air is passed over them for 12-24 hrs.

c.     Lvs lose much of their water content.

d.     After withering, lvs. are rolled (usu. by machine); rolling breaks up cells, releasing enzymes in the cytoplasm that begin fermentation.

e.     In the case of tea, fermentation refers to the formation of brown-colored polyphenolic compounds.

f.       Lvs are then spread out in cool, humid fermentation rooms for up to several hours. 

g.     Fermentation brings about chemical changes that turn the leaf copper-colored.

h.     Lastly, lvs are passed thru hot air chambers that stop fermentation, reduce moisture content, and turn leaf black.

i.       Caffeine is responsible for the stimulating effects of tea, and the tannins impart the characteristic bite and brown color. 

j.       Produced mainly in India, Sri Lanka, and China.

4.       Green tea - are not fermented.

Lvs are not withered.

After plucking, lvs are steamed, rolled and dried.

Lvs remain green.

Produced mainly in Japan and China.

Green tea is said to contain antioxidants (prevents oxidative damage to cells and tissues, and thereby reduces likelihood of cancer).

Green tea also appears to protect the heart:

i.                    it lowers cholesterol by inhibiting its absorption

ii.                 it reduces blood pressure

iii.              reduces blood platelet stickiness, lowering the risk of artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Green tea has 6 times the amount of polyphenols (or antioxidant compounds) than black tea.

Green tea, which constitutes about one-fifth of all the tea produced, is usually consumed locally.

5.       Oolong tea - combines the taste properties of green and black teas

a.      because it is semi-fermented, or allowed to go through a short enzymatic fermentation that occurs during the 6-8 hour withering and hand-rolling period.

b.     lightly withered to produce a partial ferment; resulting in lvs that are greenish-brown in color.

c.     Produced mainly in Taiwan.

 

Flavor

 

1.       Essential oils and tannins in leaf determine flavor of tea [Essential oils = oils that are volatile substances that contribute to the essence or aroma of certain species]. E.g. Theol

2.       Tannins are plant compounds found in many plants and believed to discourage herbivory.

a.     They have been widely utilized in certain dyes, stains, inks, or tanning agents for leather.

b.      Tannins in tea are responsible for staining teapots and teeth of tea drinkers.

c.     Black teas are particularly rich in tannins.

3.       Research suggests a link between certain forms of cancer and extremely high consumption or industrial exposure to tannins.

a.      (Consider the age-old British custom of drinking milk with tea: milk protein reacts with tannins in a protective manner, preventing the body from absorbing it.

b.     Esophageal cancer is much higher in countries like Japan, where tea is drunk unadulterated, than it is in England, where people add milk to buffer it.)

4.       Stimulating effects of tea are due to caffeine and theophylline present in lvs. When caffeine is metabolized in human body, a small amount of it is converted to theophylline.

a.     Theophylline, structurally similar to caffeine, has been used to treat asthma by directly relaxing the smooth muscles of bronchial airways and thus opening constricted air passages.

b.     The bronchodilation action helps to relieve wheezing, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms.

5.       Dry tea lvs contain 2.5-4.5% caffeine.

 

History

 

1.       Long history of tea drinking in the Far East; believed already widespread in China during rule of Shen-Nung (2737-2697 BCE).

 

2.       Spread to Japan and other eastern Asian countries, including Mongolia in 6th century. Mongols later introduced tea to the Russians. In fact, tea brought by land to Europe, was known as Russian tea, and was of a better quality than tea imported by ship because it was free from the flavor of sea water and other materials carried in the cargo. However, tea carried by caravan ceased having this advantage when proper packaging in aluminum foil was introduced.

 

3.       Tea arrived in Western Europe in Holland in 1610, reaching England sometime in the 1650s. In 1680, the British imported 100 lbs. of tea; by 1700, they were importing 1 million lbs; and by 1780, 14 million lbs, making tea the national beverage. (Monopoly by the British East India Co.). British colonial coffee plantations in Sri Lanka (Ceylon, then), were wiped out by the coffee rust fungus.

4.       Tea made first appearance in No. America about 1650, brought to New Amsterdam by the Dutch. At first it was confined to the homes of the well-to-do; it was very expensive. But, despite costs, by mid-1700s, colonists were avid consumers and were dependent on imports for their tea lvs.

 

 

 

5.       Altho British East India Co. was the official import company, colonists preferred the lower duty-free prices they cd get from smugglers. After East India Co. complaints to Parliament about the lg. surpluses of tea, and anxious to improve colonial tea trade, Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773, allowing East India Co. to sell directly to colonies w/o paying taxes imposed in the colonial merchants. East India co. hoped to monopolize the tea trade by underselling colonial tea merchants.

 

6.       Tea Act of 1773 aroused the indignation of the colonists;

 

a.      colonial merchants felt their livelihoods were jeopardized

b.     it renewed animosity against the British system of taxation - ‘taxation w/o representation’.

c.     The most famous response to the Tea Act of 1773 was the Boston Tea Party of 12/16/1773, the aftermath of which contributed to events that led to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War.

 

7.       Subsequently, the U.S. never did develop into a major tea drinking nation. In fact, save for Russia and England, Western Europe did not develop into tea drinking nations.

a.      This may have something to do with the early monopolization of the tea trade by the British East India Co., and the resentment of the other European nations and their unwillingness to line the pockets of the British monopoly.

 

8.       Tea and porcelain- Britain and China 

a.     Porcelain is a very fine, translucent ceramic, originally and loosely referred to as ‘china’,and distinguishable by anyone from earthenware pottery or stoneware.

b.     The trade with China involved 2 water-sensitive, high-value commodities: tea and silk.

c.     To trim the ship and make her sail properly, about ˝ the weight (but much less than ˝ the volume) of heavy, water-resistant goods or ballast, was needed in the bilges.

i. this ballast could be carried permanently in the ship’s bottom.

ii. but permanent ballast paid no revenue – it was dead weight.

d.     Both tea and silk had to be carried in the middle of the ship to prevent the risk of getting wet from the sea, condensation, or rain.

e.     China had 1 major raw material need – copper ore (copper, gold, or silver were the medium of exchange with China).

f.       Among other things, the ships were now ballasted with porcelain.

                i. heavy objects were wanted, especially if they stored easily by stacking, like plates cups, and saucers.

                              ii. The Chinese didn’t put handles on their teacups because they drank their tea cool enough to render handles unnecessary. Handleless cups stack easier than cups with handles.

g.     However, the British were fond of the sugar they obtained from the colonies in the West Indies.

               i. in order for the sugar to dissolve, the tea had to be hot, and therefore needed a handle.

                ii. Russians and Chinese drank tea lukewarm (flavor is best when only a few degrees above body temperature).

 

Ceremonies and Tea

 

Whereas the midmorning coffee break is a familiar tradition in the U.S., other cultures have developed customs and ceremonies involving tea.

1.       British - British High Tea became a full meal replacing the formal family dinner, including hot meals, ham, fowl, salad, cakes, tarts, and fresh fruit.

a.     Low Tea is afternoon light meal of scones, crumpets, finger sandwiches, accompanied by piping hot tea, served with cream.

2.       Russian - for centuries Russians brewed their tea using a metal urn called a samovar to boil water.

a.     Russians were first to flavor tea with lemon.

b.     Drank tea out of a glass, sometimes sweetened with jam, or used the technique of sipping boiling tea thru a lump of compressed sugar held between the teeth.

3.       Japan - Tea Ceremony is a highly stylized ritual symbolizing the Zen Buddhist concepts that universal truths lie in simple tasks.

a.     Tea is often taken in separate, austerely decorated room to focus attention on the details of the ceremony, of the present - the now - the task at hand, and the Nothingness therein.

b.     Green tea is poured and whipped to a frothy consistency, served from porcelain bowls

c.     Water represents yin and fire represents yang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.      Cacao/Chocolate (Theobroma cacao) Sterculiaceae

 

Native to tropical Central and South America

 

Cultivated by native peoples from southern Mexico, through central America, and into northern South America for centuries before the Spanish Conquest.

 

According to Aztec mythology, it was the god, Quetzalcoatl, that gave cacao beans to the Aztec people. The beans were offered as gifts to the gods, and also used to make a beverage consumed by noblemen and priests on ceremonial occasions. The botanical name, Theobroma, reflects this ancient tradition, since it literally means “food of the gods”.

 

Although Columbus may have first encountered cacao beans in 1502 - learning that the natives had used the beans as  a form of currency, and to make a spicy beverage - he apparently appreciated it little, not having the advantage of Cortes, who was to follow. For in 1519 when Herman Cortes invaded Mexico, he found Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, drinking a liquid called chocolatl from a golden goblet. (Actually, Montezuma’s court consumed 2,000 pitchers of chocolate each day, and he, himself, enjoyed chocolate ice made by pouring the drink over snow brought to him from nearby mountains by runners.) In the mistaken belief that Cortes was the reincarnation of the god, Quetzalcoatl, he was showered with riches and offered some of the esteemed beverage.

Chocolatl was made from roasted and coarsely ground beans from the cacao tree, combined with various spices including vanilla beans, chili peppers, pimiento, and ground maize, it was served as a frothy, honey-thickened beverage in golden goblets. The Aztec cocoa was spicy and bitter; it used no sugar. After Cortes brought cacao and knowledge of how it was prepared and used back to Spain, the Spanish court modified the recipe and added sugar, making it more palatable to the European palate.

 

Unfortunately, most of the early history of cacao and chocolate culture is obscure, in part because conquistadors and Catholic missionaries in Latin America destroyed records wholesale in their haste to eradicate native religions and social systems. What has endured, though, is the famous Codex Mendoza, prepared by an ancient Aztec artist for Antonio de Mendoza, the first Spanish viceroy of Mexico.

 

Cacao seeds were introduced into Europe as early as 1526 but were only used for making chocolate drink. In 1828, a Dutchman, van Houten, succeeded in extracting from the seed a solid fat known today as cocoa butter, after depriving them of the testa and germ. His aim was to extract the fat to diminish the richness of the chocolate drink, and by succeeding, became the inventor of the drink called cocoa, de-fatted chocolate.

 

 

Although cocoa was very popular in Europe, it never rivaled coffee or tea as a beverage. For one thing, the fat content in the cocoa bean made processing difficult, and produced a greasy beverage that many found unappetizing. It wasn’t until 1828 that a Dutch chemist developed a process to remove some of the fat, or cocoa butter, and in 1847, an English company added cocoa butter and sugar to the ground beans to make chocolate - and the first chocolate bar.

 

Leading producers today of cacao are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Brazil, Dominican republic, Ecuador, Colombia, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

 

Botany/Ecology

 

Theobroma cacao is a small evergreen tree in the understory of a tropical shade tree forest, endemic to Central and /south America, principally the upper Amazon and Orinoco River Basins. In its crowded, natural habitat, the tree is sparsely branched, lanky, reaching a height of 50 ‘ or more. In unshaded plantations, the trees branch out and rarely stand more than 1/3 as tall.

 

After 2-3 years, the tree produces clusters of small white-pink flowers directly on the main trunk and large branches (cauliflorus). Pollination of the unscented fls. is generally carried out by small mosquito-like midge fly, and less than 5% of its fls. yield fully developed pods. The average tree produces 20-50 pods, and each pod contains as many as 50 ivory-colored beans, enough to make a 100 gram chocolate bar.  The fresh beans are quite bitter, but the sweet-sour flavor and aroma of the surrounding pulp attract monkeys and birds and other animals that open the pods and eat the pulp, discarding the seeds as they go. Effective means of seed dispersal in the wild. In the wild, then, cacao was selected not for its seed but for the pulp surrounding the seed. Selection for seed begins in Mesoamerica where the seed pulp was used as a beverage.

 

The fruit developing from the flower is a berry (called a pod in common usage). Elongated structure, 12-40 cm long; red or purple in color when ripe. Berry is indehiscent and the pericarp contains seeds embedded in a pulp developed from the outer integument of the ovule. Fruits are often solitary because most of the fls. fail to develop into mature fruit.

 

The major alkaloid in chocolate, in Theobroma cacao, is theobromine, a mild, caffeine-like substance.

 

Cultivated varieties

1.       Criollo (meaning native) - varieties cultivated in Central America and Venezuela; susceptible to disease; modest productivity.

2.       Forastario (meaning foreign) - grown in Amazon region and W. Africa; introduced into Ghana in 1879 from Fernando Po (now Bioko); most cultivated variety in Brazil and W. Africa.

3.       Trinitario - hybrid between Criollo and Forastario.

 

Harvesting

1.       Pods are cut from trees with machete or special knife to avoid damaging the flower cushion.

2.       Within day or two after harvesting, pods are opened with machete.

3.       Wet beans and white (mucilaginous) pulp placed in lg. square wooden boxes for fermentation by yeasts and bacteria (residing in the pulp) that obtain their nutrients from sugars and other compounds in the pulp.

4.       In the 5-7 days that fermentation ensues, bean mass heats up, reaching temperatures as high as 50 C (120 F), prompting a complex of chemical changes.

5.       The process kills the embryo and alters their carbohydrates, proteins, and pigments, releasing enzymes that produce the precursors of the chocolate flavor.

6.       Following fermentation, beans are spread to dry on sunlit platforms, where they re raked and turned several times per day for 3-5 days.

 

Processing

1.       Beans are roasted in pots after being sun-dried; roasted until the shells (husks)can be removed.

2.       Seeds are cracked open, freeing the lg. Cotyledons (nibs) from the seed coat and embryo.

3.       Nibs are crushed by grounding them with a roller on flat or concave stone, producing a dark oily paste, the chocolate liquor. The liquor can be solidified into squares of baking chocolate, or the cocoa butter can be removed from the liquor with heat and pressure to produce a brown cake, which is pulverized into cocoa powder. During this process, alkali is added to neutralize the acidity of the cocoa. This step is called dutching; it also increases the solubility and darkens the color.

4.       Crushed shells are fed to chickens, pods to pigs or goats. Nibs are ground in a corn mill to make a warm paste that is punched into 2” disks and placed on a banana leaf to cool

5.       Cocoa butter - added to liquor to produce confectionery chocolate. It is the main ingredient for white chocolate (altho the FDA doesn’t consider white chocolate as chocolate because it contains no chocolate liquor). Cocoa butter is also used in suntan lotions, soaps, and cosmetics.

6.       The majority of cocoa beans are used to make chocolate. The recipe for chocolate begins with the chocolate liquor; sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and often milk re added during conching (mechanical kneading and stirring that gives chocolate its velvety smoothness). After conching, the liquid chocolate is poured into molds and cooled.

 

Miscellany

1.       Pure chocolate is more than ˝ cocoa butter, which has very high energy value, much higher than protein. This made it a logical choice for sled travel across the polar snow and ice, and all expeditions carried it in quantity. The amounts of chocolate permitted each crew member may have had critical significance for the success and failure of Amundson’s (Norway) and Scott’s (England) trek to the South Pole.

2.       Valentine’s Day - chocolate consumption, aphrodisiac, connection between romantic and various amines, such as phenylethylamine (PEA). These compounds, present in chocolate, play a role in human neurological functions. PEA may be complicit in the roller coaster emotional feeling of passion we associate with falling in love, an amphetamine-like rush. Phenylethylamine is found in chocolate, and some speculate that people eat chocolate because it produces the sense of well-being we enjoy when we’re in love. However, smoked salami and cheddar cheese are both considerably higher in PEA content. Who here eats smoked salami to experience a vicarious sense of a rush of love?

3.       Chocolate, a carbohydrate, may prompt the pancreas to make insulin, which ultimately leads to an increase in that neurotransmitter of calm, serotonin. It also contains theobromine, a mild caffeine-like substance. Some women crave chocolate when they are about to menstruate: women who suffer PMS have been found to have lower levels of serotonin, and premenstrual women, in general, eat 30% more carbohydrates than they do at other times of the month. (theobromine + carbohydrates like chocolate: but why wouldn’t a cup of coffee and a doughnut work?).

4.       In a recent newspaper article (5/98), it was reported that chocolate consumption was increasing by 3% annually, while production is increasing by 1.5%. Alternatives may include converting small sugarcane and pineapple plantations in Hawaii to cacao, and also to encourage the conversion of coca fields in Colombia and Peru to cacao. Ninety percent of the world’s chocolate is produced by small cocoa farmers.

5.       Newspaper article (Washington Post, 2/21/99) - John Henderson (Cornell) and Rosemary Joyce (Berkeley) claim to have gathered evidence that chocolate originated in what is now known as the Ulua River Valley in northwestern Honduras.

          Shards of distinctive ceremonial pottery unearthed at Puerto Escondido archaeological dig in the Ulua Valley date back as far as 1600 BCE, making the artifacts the oldest known examples of highly decorated small bowls still customarily used today in Mexico and throughout Central America to serve liquid chocolate, particularly at weddings.

          The shape of the vessel and the fancy decorations may indicate a ceremonial use for the serving of chocolate.

          The area has also long been known as one of the first places where cocoa was cultivated.

          This leads researchers to believe that chocolate originated in this region and then spread north to Mexico and other parts of Central America, and then around the world after Spanish colonization.

          The researchers now intend to have some of the ancient pottery analysed for traces of what cd. have been one of the first chocolate syrups.