There are hundreds of different coffee species, the two most common being robusta and arabica. Robusta is a hardier plant that grows at lower altitudes and produces beans with a harsher flavor and higher caffeine content. The arabica plant grows at high altitudes (3,000 to 6,500 feet or approximately 914 to 1,828 meters) and produces beans with a smoother, more elegant flavor and slightly less caffeine.
Roasting times greatly affect the color and flavor of coffee—the longer the beans are roasted, the stronger the flavor. Among the most popular roasts are American, French, Italian, European, and Viennese. American roast or regular roast beans are medium-roasted for a moderate brew. French roast and dark French roast are heavily roasted, yielding deep chocolate brown beans and producing a stronger coffee. Italian roast are heavily roasted, glossy, brown-black beans that are strongly flavored and used for espresso. European roast contains two-thirds heavy-roast beans blended with one-third regular-roast; Viennese roast reverses those proportions. Instant coffee is a powdered coffee made by heat-drying freshly brewed coffee. Freeze-drying coffee removes water content by means of a vacuum, with the coffee solidly frozen and preserved during the process. Bottled coffee drinks are also available, with milk, sugar, and other sweeteners and flavors.
No matter the variety, all types of coffee contain significant amounts of caffeine, with the exception, of course, of decaffeinated coffee. Decaffeinated coffee is produced by one of two methods. Caffeine can be chemically extracted with the use of a solvent, which must be completely washed out before the beans are dried. Using the Swiss water process, the beans are steamed, then the caffeine-rich outer layers are scraped away. The solvent method compromises the flavor of the coffee. The Swiss water process is considered the most desirable method.
Here is the approximate caffeine content of a variety of coffee products. Keep in mind that the numbers provided are not exact:
Brewed (8 oz./250mL) = 85mg of caffeine
Instant (8 oz./250mL) = 75mg of caffeine
Decaffeinated, brewed (8 oz./250mL) = 3mg of caffeine
Decaffeinated, instant (8 oz./250mL) = 3mg of caffeine
Espresso (1 oz./30mL) = 40mg of caffeine
Cappuccino and Latte (1 oz./30mL) = 40mg of caffeine
Preparation, Uses, & Tips
Invest in a good grinder and grind your coffee beans just before using for the richest flavor. Keep coffee makers clean—the oily residue in the pot affects the flavor of the next brewing. Use two tablespoons (30mL) of coffee per six ounces (170mL) of water. There are numerous ways to prepare coffee, but the three most common are filtered, French press, and espresso.
Filtered coffee is made by pouring hot, but not boiling, water through freshly ground or recently purchased ground coffee. The water should pass through the grounds only once.
French press coffee uses a special cylindrical glass container with a filter plate on a plunger. The coffee grounds and hot water steep together for three to four minutes, then pushing down the plunger separates the grounds from the brewed coffee.
Espresso is a high-pressure extraction of the volatile oils of the bean. The espresso machine uses steam and water for a deeper, more intense flavor, with less caffeine and bitterness. Beans selected and roasted specifically for espresso are available. One “shot” of espresso is about 1 ounce (28mL). Some espresso drinks, including cappuccino and lattes, are made by steaming milk and adding it in varying proportion to the brewed espresso. Other espresso drinks, such as an Americano, combine espresso with hot water (or cold water for an iced Americano).
Store whole roasted beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks. For longer storage, freeze whole beans for up to three months. Ground coffee can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Coffee beans are often flavored; the most popular varieties include chocolate raspberry, French vanilla, hazelnut, and Irish crème.
Coffee, 1 cup (6 oz./185mL)
- Calories: 5
- Protein: 0.2g
- Carbohydrate: 0.9g
- Total Fat: 0.0g
- Fiber: 0.0g