From brewing coffee at home to understanding the beans: Debunking myths around coffee

Despite its growing popularity, coffee is shrouded by many myths. Today, we try to demystify and debunk some of these persistent myths around coffee.
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Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages across the world. Brewed in different styles and with many local adaptations, this beloved beverage is enjoyed in many forms.

In India, the past few years have seen coffee gain a tremendous surge in popularity. Millennials and Gen Z are consuming coffee in cafes and increasingly experimenting with brewing it at home.

These coffee connoisseurs are more open to experimenting with flavours, are keenly investing in different brewing equipment, and continuously educate themselves on the many nuances of the beverage. 

Despite its growing popularity, coffee is shrouded by many myths. Today, we try to demystify and debunk some of these persistent myths around coffee. 

Black coffee is bitter 

That the only flavour of a cup of black coffee is bitterness is a myth!

If you want to taste coffee in its true form, you should taste it black. Various parameters that coffee is judged on — including sweetness, acidity, bitterness, body, aftertaste, texture, and finally, the flavour notes — are determined for any coffee through multiple tasting or cuppings.

If you purchase speciality coffee, the flavour notes of each variant are conveyed on the packaging. Depending on the coffee and the processes it has been through, these can be varied and unexpected, like chocolate to roasted nuts.  

There are only two varieties of coffee 

Yes, Arabica and Robusta are the two main varieties of the coffee plant. Arabica crops consist of 60 percent of the world coffee production and are grown in cooler climates at an altitude of 3500-6000 feet.

Robusta crops, on the other hand, are typically grown at lower altitudes. 

However, the belief that Arabica and Robusta are the only two varieties of coffee, is a myth.

Other varieties of coffee, including Geisha, Caturra, Catimor, Liberica, etc., also make a great cup. Multiple estate owners and coffee farmers are adopting these to improve their coffee quality and scores.

In India, besides Arabica and Robusta, Liberica is the other variety grown in smaller quantities. 

Arabica is better than Robusta 

That Arabica is always better than Robusta is a myth. Various countries (like Brazil, Vietnam, Uganda, etc.) produce high-scoring Robusta coffees that make some of the best espressos.

In fact, Indian Robusta beans are considered one of the best globally and have won multiple awards in the coffee world.

Chicory degrades the quality of coffee 

Chicory is considered an adulterant, but if used in the right proportions, it can elevate the flavour and body of any coffee. It has always been used extensively in Indian Filter coffee — highly popular in the Southern states. 

It has found a growing awareness across Europe with Blue Bottle (the first speciality coffee shop in the world), having introduced its Chicory blend.

Speciality coffees are graded 

Grading in coffee can be in terms of size, density, varietals, etc. Some grades followed in India are — AA, AB, PB, etc.

Many believe that speciality coffee is always graded, but this is a myth!

Single-origin coffee is often not graded but is still considered as speciality coffee and scores high on a cupping table. 

All instant coffees are low-quality coffee 

All instant coffee — whether freeze-dried, spray-dried or agglomerated — is considered low quality. But this is a myth.

If good quality greens are roasted well and used to create instant coffee, they can produce high quality, flavourful coffee. 

Brewing fresh coffee at home is cumbersome and expensive 

Many people feel that brewing fresh coffee at home is an expensive and time-consuming process. This is, in fact, a myth!

Various coffee brewing equipment available in the market are reasonably priced, easy to operate, and perfect to start your homebrewing journey.

South Indian coffee filters are available for as low as Rs 200 and are perfect for brewing a strong cup of kaapi

Equipment like French Press and Moka Pot are other popular, comparatively lower-priced devices to brew coffee, which can be used for years together.

French Press is one of the most straightforward brewing techniques, and cold brew is another inexpensive home brewing method one can explore, which is great to experiment with for many summer-based mocktails and cocktails. 

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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