The origins of coffee are not certain. It surely spread first in the Arab world and then in Europe. The term coffee comes from the Arabic word Qahwa, which originally identified a drink produced from the juice extracted from some seeds, with exciting and stimulating effects. From the term Qahwa it passed to the Turkish Qahvè, a word reported in Italian with Caffé. Some people think that the term coffee derives from Caffa region, in southwestern Ethiopia, where the coffee tree is farmed.

One of the most famous legends tells that an Ethiopian shepherd noticed the excitement of his goats after eating the berries of a plant. Getting curious, he brought the red cherries to the nearby monastery. The monks, intimidated by his story, threw the berries into the fire. The perfume that was released was great and destined to change history.

In the fifteenth century the knowledge of coffee expanded in the whole Middle East up to Istanbul, where its consumption took place in the meeting places of the time. In fact, in 1554 by two merchants, Hakim from Aleppo and Gems from Damascus, opened in Constantinople the first two coffee houses, called Kahwe-kane, public places where coffee infusion was prepared, which represent the first example of a modern coffee shop.

Venice, thanks to its relationship with the Orient world, was the first to introduce coffee in Italy: the first coffee shops appeared in 1645. In the seventeenth century, coffee spread in England (in 1663 there were already 80 coffeehouses, which became 3000 in 1715) and in France and since then the growth was exponential so that in the eighteenth century every city in Europe had at least one coffee shop.


The coffee tree belongs to the Coffea genus, of the Rubiaceae family, which includes over 100 species, however, commercially, coffee varieties are offered in two main types: Arabica (Coffea Arabica) and Robusta (Coffea Canephora), whose cultivation takes place in the so-called coffee belt, in the Tropics of Cancer and of Capricorn.

The main differences between the two refer to the taste and the place of cultivation. The first important diversity is genetic: Arabica, in fact, is made up of 44 chromosomes, whereas Robusta 22; Robusta also has a higher level of caffeine than Arabica. Arabica which represents 60% of the entire coffee produced in the world is mostly grown in South America, Central America and East Africa.

Robusta, on the other hand, which covers 40% of world production, is mainly grown in the flat areas of West Africa and in the tropical area of ​​Asia, up to an altitude of 800 meters. Arabica, more delicate, grows best at high altitudes, between 1100 and 2200 meters and needs a lot of rain and mild, constant temperatures, while Robusta also develops at lower altitudes and in less ideal conditions in terms of humidity and soil type; it is also less subjected to disease and parasites.

With regard to the morphology of the beans, Arabica ones are more elongated and oval, while Robusta ones have a more rounded shape and have a more or less straight furrow.

As for taste, Arabica is more delicate and sweet with a more or less pronounced acidity and with intense aromatic sensations. Robusta, on the other hand, is much more full-bodied with less important taste sensations and an aftertaste that tends towards amarotic.


With the large-scale spread, coffee began to be cultivated intensively in the English and Dutch colonies such as Indonesia, then France also began throughout Central America.

The first cultivations in Brazil began in 1727.

The cultivation of coffee always depended on slavery, until its abolition in 1888.

Coffee is one of the most traded goods together with oil and steel.

According to some statistics from the International Coffee Organization, world coffee production is around 160 million of 60 kg bags per year; the major world coffee producers are, in order of importance, Brazil (covering almost a third of the coffee in the world with more than 50 million bags), Vietnam (first producer of Robusta with about 30 million bags), Colombia and Indonesia. Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Ethiopia and India follow in varying order according to the crops.


The most expensive method, but the only one that allows a homogeneous harvest, is Picking, a hand picking, in several stages, which allows to select only ripe cherries from time to time, since the drupes of coffee never ripen simultaneously and on the same plant it is usual to find flowers, green, red and brown cherries. Normally this method, being very expensive, is employed for the finest coffees only.

Stripping, on the other hand, is a cheaper method suitable for lower quality coffees, which consists in tearing all the cherries of a branch from the inside out in one go, without however discarding the dry or green drupes that are collected together with the ones that have reached the optimal degree of ripeness.
Machine harvesting systems are especially employed in the Brazilian highlands, passing over the rows of coffee and shaking the plants until the cherries drop on the base of the machine that will collect them. This method requires a subsequent sorting to select and discard the immature drupes that would invalidate the final taste in the cup making it astringent.


The different coffee processing methods are closely related to the different climatic conditions of each country, such as humidity, exposure to sunlight and percentage of annual rainfall. Here are the main ones:

The Natural-Dry processing method is the most traditional process, mainly employed in countries such as Brazil, where solar radiation is present all year round. Coffee cherries are dried in the sunlight with peel, pulp, parchment and seed, on raised beds or on a cement patio.

This process lasts 15-20 days during which a continuous movement and ventilation of the drupes is important to avoid the formation of mold. Humidity goes from 60% – 65% to 10% -12%. Dehulling machines will then separate the peel and the parchment from the bean, which will have a maximum thickness of 5 cm. The coffees obtained with this method are called “natural” and are characterized by a high sweetness and body, intense aroma and balanced acidity.


The Washed-Wet processing method is more complex than the Natural one. Ripe cherries are separated from dry cherries and light foreign bodies, such as leaves, by floating the product in tanks filled with water, in which ripe cherries will settle on the bottom. Subsequently, pulping process is carried out, providing the elimination of the pulp from the ripe drupe by means of a pulping machine. This process must take place immediately after harvesting, to avoid the fermentation of sugars which would result in a fermented bean. At the same time, ripe and immature berries are also selected and discarded.
The stripped parchment beans proceed in the processing and reach the fermentation tanks. The fermentation process, which lasts from 18 to 36 hours, consists of macerating the sugars and is used to remove the pectin (mucilage) layer that covers the parchment, making it cleaner and shiny. This methodology is employed for various African coffees, such as Kenya.
The subsequent drying process is same as the natural method but the maximum bean’s thickness in this case is 2.5 cm.
Washed coffees are brighter than natural ones and contain less solids. They are therefore more complex coffees, with a more marked acidity and aromatic notes.
Colombia is the first country in the world for the production of washed coffees, thanks to the heavy rains and therefore the wide availability of water.


The Semi-washed method does not consider the fermentation phase in the tanks. The removal of the mucilage occurs through so-called Colombian machines that produce jets of water under pressure, allowing the cleaning of the beans by rubbing.

The process is divided into Pulped Natural, with partial removal of the parchment mucilage and Honey Process which, depending on the different percentage of mucilage left on the parchment or according to the drying time, gives different gradations of color to the beans. This method is especially appreciated by the specialty market for its sweetness and balance cup result. This process is more complex than the previous ones since the parchment coffee is dried with a large part of the mucilage, causing the beans to stick together and giving rise to molds, which must be promptly eliminated.


The roasting process, which is the heart of every coffee company, is a fundamental procedure for a good final cup result.

Blending the different origins before roasting them is optimal as the different coffees can thus combine during the roasting process, creating a perfectly balanced blend, both visually and in terms of taste.

The roasting process takes place at a temperature of 200°-220 ° which brings about significant physical changes. Green coffee expands in volume (50% – 80%) and changes its organoleptic structure and color; green gives way to brown with a weight loss from 17% to 20%, during which the 800 typical aromas of Italian espresso, which we will find in the cup, are developed.

The subsequent cooling must be by air, so that the humidity inside the bean does not cause the formation of mold. The storage silos will then welcome the roasted coffee for 15 days, the period in which the coffee releases its oils and aromas. There are three types of toasting: Light, Medium, Dark.
In the Light roasting, from 170 ° to 190 °, the beans gets cinnamon colored and the typical oils do not come out. The caffeine content, which decreases with roasting, is quite high. The body of the coffee will be light and the acidity will stand out. This type of roasting is the most popular in northern European countries, especially for Arabica, and is typical of filter coffee.

In the Medium roasting, from 200 ° to 220 °, the beans consist of a more accentuated brown and are slightly larger than the previous ones, with a greater body, less acidity and a hint of bitterness. In this roasting, the aroma of the Italian “monk’s robe” espresso is best expressed. The blend will be round, full-bodied and balanced, ensuring the best equilibrium between flavor, aroma and acidity. This roasting is typical of Northern Italy and France.

Dark roasting, from 230 ° to 240 °, is typical of full-bodied and bitter Italian espresso from Southern Italy, Spain and Portugal and is also found in American Dark Roast. This roasting is employed on various occasions also to mask coffee defects, which are thus camouflaged, giving way to a very strong and bitter aftertaste free of acidity and with a low caffeine content.