coffee filtration
Photographed By Tyler Nix

About Coffee

Well firstly, it turns out that coffee is the world’s most popular drink.  I wasn’t expecting to find this fact, but it turns out that each day around 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide.  Maybe I should be thinking of going into the coffee business! 😉

Where Does the Coffee Drink Come From?

We all know that the coffee drink begins as coffee beans, but before becoming the brown coffee beans we usually see in coffee adverts, they are the seeds of fruit found on a tree which takes three to five years from planting before it begins to produce fruit.  That tree is known as the Coffee Tree and its fruit are called berries or Coffee Cherries.

At the right time Coffee Cherries are picked from the Coffee Tree and it is estimated that only 20% of the selected Coffee Cherries will actually go on to become the popular drink.

Within 24 hours of being picked, selected Coffee Cherries are de-pulped to remove skin, after this they undergo a process of fermentation where a combination of bacteria and yeast break down sugars within the juices of the Coffee Cherry remains – to produce acids.  These acids aid the final flavour of the popular drink.

After the process of fermentation the Coffee Cherries are left to dry and are then stored away, and pending the storage temperature and humidity, they can be stored for several months or several years.  They are typically stored within sacks and in ways to receive a good airflow but zero moisture.  After storage the Coffee Cherry remains are put through a “milling” process, and in this process the coffee beans (still within the Coffee Cherries) are removed from the remains of the Coffee Cherry fruit.  After the milling stage, which may include polishing, the beans are ready for roasting.

Before being sent to where the beans are roasted, the beans are assessed for quality and for whether they are suitable for blending with previously approved coffee beans.  Once graded the coffee beans are marketable and they are sold to various traders and distributors before reaching a roastery near you.

So there’s how coffee beans come into the hands of coffee trading organisations.  Let’s take a look at what happens after the roasting of the coffee beans.

After Roasting The Coffee Beans

The aim of roasting coffee beans is to enhance their flavour and acidity and this would be by noticing the flavour and acidity of each batch of coffee beans before roasting them, to adjust the temperature and/or heated duration accordingly.

At an industrial level roastery, coffee beans are roasted within an environment that can reach up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  At around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the fragrant oil within coffee beans (caffeol) begins to flow outwards from within beans in a process known as Pyrolysis – this process is the ultimate decider of the flavour and aroma of coffee beans and the coffee drink.  The duration of coffee bean roasting determines lighter, medium and darker roasts, all of which affect flavour.

Once the process of roasting has been completed the beans are cooled by air or by water to prevent any further development by the heat.

After roasting and cooling, the coffee beans need to be packaged as soon as possible; to preserve their flavour and their freshness ahead of their consumption.  Air, moisture and ultra-violet rays act to waste the entire process of preparing coffee beans for consumption.

Before being prepared for consumption roasted coffee beans are ground, and pending the method of brewing is the fineness of the grinding.  French Press and Vacuum Coffee Makers tend to give coarse grinds for coffee beans whereas a drip coffee maker requires a medium to fine grind.

Espresso Machines and Espresso Pots tend to give fine and super fine grinds.

Burr grinders are said to provide the most consistent and fine grinds for coffee beans, and the sound of these machines during the early morning is said to be acceptable to the human mind.

Once ground the brewing process can begin, which can be followed by the consumption of the coffee drink.

So that explains where coffee comes from and how it comes to be available near you to consume.

Reasons Why Coffee is Filtered

Scientists have found that coffee consumption increases low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol levels within humans due to the presence of oily substances called “diterpenes”, but they also found that the cholesterol-raising effect of coffee is limited to coffee which has not been filtered.

Paper Filters

Scientists found that the two main types of diterpene within coffee are “cafestol” and “kahweol”.  These present themselves either as oily droplets or as the grounds that remain floating in the drink.  However, a paper filter is able to prevent cafestol and kahweol from the final drink, so that filtered coffee has little to no effect on cholesterol levels.

As well as paper filters, other kinds of coffee filtering have also been found effective in withdrawing cafestol and kahweol, but paper filters have shown the best evidence of extracting diterpenes from the final drink.

The espresso coffee drink features more diterpenes than coffee that has been paper-filtered, however, because espresso is consumed in small amounts it is potentially less effective in raising LDL cholesterol levels, still, researchers found that unfiltered coffee contains 30 times the amount of diterpenes found in coffee that has been filtered.

What are Cholesterol Levels?

Cholesterol is a fatty susbstance produced by the liver which is also found within some foods too.  Humans need some cholesterol, but too much cholesterol can clog arteries and lead to health problems.  A higher proportion of the low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol within the human body increases the risk of the coronary heart disease.

So, Generally

So there you have it.  Coffee is a very nice tasting drink, or can be, and this might be why it is the world’s most popular beverage, but despite being so nice a drink its consumption also raises a noteable health issue.

A paper filter acts to prevent coffee’s cafestol and kahweol diterpenes from the final coffee drink, because if otherwise consumed these oily substances will escape to be consumed by the drinker, giving these diterpenes the opportunity to trouble the intestine’s quality of cholesterol regulation.  Once the intestines can no longer manage cholesterol levels, blood cholesterol levels within the drinker shall increase.

Since the use of a coffee filter can prevent coffee drinkers from the mentioned diterpenes, they could hugely reduce the risk of increased cholesterol levels in order to prevent the associated health risks.

What About Instant Coffee?

It turns out that near to 50% of the world’s coffee is turned into instant coffee, so if you have read through the above then there’s a good chance that you have begun to ask whether instant coffee is made with filtered coffee.

Making enquiries with a company or a brand that produces instant coffee would have to be one of the best ways of finding out how instant coffee is produced, i.e. with filtered coffee or not. I have contacted Nescafe.com to ask them how they produce their brand of instant coffee. I will confirm their final response in the next paragraph.

Nescafe.com have confirmed that all Nescafe instant coffee is produced from filtered coffee, and that some of their product lines are filtered twice. It means that Nescafe instant coffee is also filtered coffee.

A Question For You

So what do you think?  Is coffee filtration of any importance?  Comments below 😊

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