Between history and legend

We have no certain historical information on the origins of coffee, but there are many legends that fuel the curiosity of the lovers of this beverage.
It seems likely that the word coffee derives from the Kaffa region in Ethiopia, where coffee is said to have been discovered, since the Coffea Arabica species is native to this geographical area.
In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi, author of the famous treatise “The science of cooking and the art of eating well”, stated that the best coffee came from the Yemenite city of Moka, and this could give us a further key to identifying the origin. Artusi claimed that coffee was discovered by some monks, who noticed that their goats became livelier and at times restless after eating the red berries from a certain bush. Therefore, to combat sudden sleepiness during their nights of prayer, the monks made the berries edible also for humans by roasting and grinding them to make an infusion.
Coffee is said to have come to Europe in 1683 after the second Turkish siege of Vienna. When the Ottomans were routed, sacks of roasted beans, hitherto unknown to the Western world, were found in their camp. Other sources report that coffee arrived in Italy through the large ports of the trade routes with the East, first Venice, where the first documented load of coffee dates back to 1624.


The coffee plant

The coffee plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family of the genus Coffea. The two most important species are Arabica and Robusta, which differ in height and for their growing characteristics. While Robusta can reach 8-10 metres, Arabica grows to 6-8 metres; Robusta requires higher temperatures, between 24° and 26°C against 20°-25°C for Arabica. Of the two, Arabica is the most widespread, accounting for three quarters of the coffee produced worldwide.
The coffee plant is grown in every inhabited continent, except Europe and North America, mainly in the belt between the two tropics. The three most important areas are: Central and South America, Central Africa and the area between India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Papua-New Guinea. Coffee growing varies from one country to another, each having its own methods of cultivation, harvesting and processing. There are more than eighty coffee-growing countries, but the main ones are: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, India, Peru and Mexico.

From harvesting to classification

The coffee plant has dark green, ovel-shaped leaves around 10-15 cm long. During the flowering period, clusters of highly fragrant white flowers appear on the plant and after a few days the fruit appears in their place.
The berry, called drupe or cherry, is initially green and turns red on ripening. This is when the berry is ready to be harvested.
Picking and stripping are the two methods of harvesting used. With the former, the farmers pick only the ripe cherries, and with the latter the farmer (or a machine) strips everything on the branch, both the ripe and unripe berries.
At this point the processing begins: the external layers are eliminated to leave only the two seeds, lying one facing the other.
The cherries can be processed using the wet or dry method and selected manually or using machines. The beans are then classified according to the botanical species or geographical area and to the size of the bean, colour, density and roast.

Il caffè_4
dalla tostatura al confezionamento

From roasting to packaging

We are only half-way through the journey that coffee makes before reaching the consumer.
The selected coffee can be packed in 60-kg. jute sacks for most origins (or 70-kg. for Colombian and 69-kg. for Central American) and loaded into 20- or 40-foot containers.
The coffee is then shipped to its destination under the care of the relative shipping company. When it arrives at the roasting plant, the coffee still has five stages in the production process to undergo: roasting, maturation, blending, grinding and, lastly, packaging.
First the product receives an organoleptic test to check its quality, then the coffee beans are roasted and cup-tested, i.e., in-cup tasting, decisive to define the main characteristics of the product.
Once the coffee has passed this test, roasting can begin. This is a very delicate phase during which the coffee beans reach a temperature of 200-240°C., and from green slowly turn dark brown and release the unmistakable aroma of freshly roasted coffee.
Next we have blending, which consists of expertly blending premium varieties of different origins to achieve a blend that maintains a consistently high standard in time. The blend is then ground and sent to be packaged.
The coffee is packaged in tins, pods or capsules and at this point is ready to be transported to its destination.

Coffee today

The habits and customs relating to coffee have changed in recent years because consumer demands have changed and also the way espresso is consumed.
From breakfast at home to breakfast at the coffee bar, from a break at the office or a pick-me-up after lunch, coffee is drunk on many different occasions and in different ways. Caffè Roko, therefore, offers a wide range of products in pods, Lavazza Point-compatible capsules and Nespresso-compatible capsules besides the classic ground coffee for the moka percolator and coffee beans for coffee bars. Pods and capsules are currently the most modern and practical ways of preparing coffee, an evolution that meets the favour of the lovers of the most popular beverage and its most demanding consumers.

Bicchiere caffè Roko
la cialda storia e curiosit+á

The pod: history and curiosities

The American Cyrus Melikian invented the first coffee pod in paper. A story that started in the 1940s, when Melikian and his engineer friend Lloyd Rudd initially decided to create an automatic machine to make coffee. It was a dramatic change for the popular drink because it meant adapting coffee to the infusion process of tea and to the type of packaging in filter paper.
After the war the partners founded “Rudd-Melikian Inc”, the company that created “Kwik-Kafe”, i.e., the automatic coffee vending machine.
The vending machine used frozen concentrated liquid coffee and therefore paved the way for automation in coffee making. Success was quick to come, and as early as 1948 a franchising chain was created: 50 outlets were able to sell 250,000 cups of coffee a day.
The successful partnership of Rudd and Melikian did not last, and it was Melikian to continue producing single portion coffee. In 1959 with his children he founded ABCD, Automatic Brewers & Coffee Devices, the company that created pods and the relative coffee machines. They designed a method of sandwiching finely ground roasted coffee between two long strips of filter paper which were then cut into single portions.
The coffee was purchased already roasted and ground, while the machine made up the single pods.
From the vending sector to the Ho.Re.Ca. and to the home: coffee in pods has responded to the need to prepare coffee quickly and one cup at a time, without the help of a professional barista.
From the 1960s on, the machines were improved and perfected with cutting-edge models, until the 1980s brought a new product: the Pod perfect espresso.