Category Archives: Commodities

Commodities are a sub category of Natural Resources as a derivative of one or more of these resources

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Pungent Taste of Chile

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The Pungent Taste of Chili

The taste

Chili_BellpepperIt is an old wisdom that you taste with the tip of your tongue and that the sense of taste, is a natural guideline towards proper nutrition. I personally believe that there is lots of truth in that. The various tastes normally known are: SWEET, SOUR, SALT, BITTER, PUNGENT AND ASTRINGENT

Well, peppers or chilis do have a definite pungent taste, the hot ones at least. There are some thirty species, including some with erroneous names, The genus is Capsicum and the most common species are annuum, frutescens, chinense (erroneous), pubescens and baccatum. The common name are chili, chile or chilli, chilly, all are correct and used in different languages.

A “pseudo” taxonomist thought he found a new specie in China and called it chinense. All species of Capsicum are indigenous to the Americas, PERIOD. Chilis were reported from central and south America for thousands of years ago

Let us go back to my subject. The pungency of chilis is expressed in Units of the Scoville Scale.

Wilbur Scoville was a pharmacist of Parke Davis Labs around 1912 and designed the scale around a principle, measuring the degree of pungency diluting the source with sugary water, until the taste disappeared. The more delution needed the higher the degree of pungency the pepper has. This system works, but was later replaced by a more scientific method to measure, although the results were still expressed as Scoville Units.

The substance producing the pungent taste is capsaicin and has in pure form 15-16,000,000 Units, Bell Pepper/Paprika has 0-500 Units, Jalapeño and Chipotle up to 9,000 Units, Madame Jeanette, Habanero up to 300,000 Units, Adjuma up to 575,000 Units and the hottest peppers between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 Units. Hot stuff hey.

What to do if you got an overdose of chili? Take no water if you swallow it, you will make it worse. Take small amounts of cold milk or yoghurt, every two or three minutes. Cocoa butter on your lip also helps, refresh from time to time.

If the contact is external, use lots of soapy water to wash it of. The substance is hydrophobic, also the reason for not using water internally.

The capsaicin content is at the highest level as the fruits are fully ripened. The seed strings contain an average of 79%, the seeds 13% and the skin 8% of capsaicin. In all cases always remove the seeds, they may damage the inner tissue of the stomach. It sure stimulates your appetite.

Enjoy your chili and if you have any questions, let me know, or just like it, I may be motivated to write a follow up. Chili and diseases, chili and health, chili and diet, chili against pain etc.

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Soursop Fruits

Soursop – Myth and Truth

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Soursop Myth and Truth

Soursop belongs to the plant family Annonaceae, genus Annona and the specie muricata. To the same genus belong the sweet apple and the cherimoya, the latter from the higher regions of the Andes.
The fruit of the soursop is used to prepare a delicious refreshing juice, for special icecreams and joghurts. The fruit is known in other languages as zuurzak, paw paw, guanábana, sauersack, sirsak, durian belanda, anona, graviola etc.

Many medicinal properties are ascribed to this fruit by different people around the world, but scientifically these are exaggerated for now, as this genus is really under investigated. Drinking the juice gives one a calming effect and has a slight diuretic effect. Some believe that the pulp of the fruit is having positive effect on the repair of cells. There are more studies underway as lots of people around the world have high expectations and are anxiously waiting for answers. Their are some potentials as various metabolites were found.

It is a given fact though, that the seeds are not suitable for human consumption. They contain a highly concentrated neurotoxin, named Annonacin, which seems to have a connection to neurodegenerative diseases. As such a University in the Caribbean linked this toxin to an atypical form of Parkinson´s Disease. Avoid shredding the seeds when preparing the pulp in the blender.

The pulp is very thick and could easily be diluted at a 2:1 ratio. It is not yet well known if the pulp also carries some of the neurotoxin, so drink this very refreshing juice sparsely.

Reference: Soursop – Myth, Truth and Hoax

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Coffee – Cont.1

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Coffee – The Social Drink Of Choice (Cont.)

The Coffee Cultivation


coffeedrupesOnly three species are actually in cultivation, of which two make up almost 100% of the production of the raw material for our daily cup of coffee. The three species are:

  1. Coffea arábica, with the variety Typica or Arábica and the Bourbon, including its mutant, the Caturra
  2. Coffea canéphora, with the variety Robusta
  3. Coffea libérica, with the varieties Excelsa and Barako

 Coffea arábica finds its origin in the Abessinian highlands, Ethiopia, where it is growing in the wild at 1000 to 2000m. It was traded already some 200 years, in the Arabian peninsula, with,  what is now known as Yemen, as a center of commerce, when Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, described the plant in 1753.

 Arábica coffee named after the region where it was traded first, was later spread all over the world. The first cultivation in Asia was already reported from the end of the 17th century, while the Americas, got involved in the mid`19th century.  Later the variety Bourbon, was brought to South America.  This variety was named after the French island of Bourbon, where it was found. The island is now named Reunion and is near Madagascar.  Columbia is the main production area of this variety and its mutant, the Caturra, which has a very good mild flavor.

 At one time arábica was believed to belong to a sub-genus Eucoffea arábica and this could have been true, as this specie has a double set of chromosomes (44).  Time will tell as for now it still is officially known as C. arábica, with its varieties arabica arabica or arabica tipica and the arabica bourbon

 A strain of Coffea arábica was found in Ethiopia, as described by Maria Bernadette Silvarolla, a researcher of Instituto Agronomico de Campinas (IAC), who published her findings in the journal Nature. This strain contains about 5% of the caffeine content of normal arábica, but with the same taste. This may be a possible candidate for genetic hybridization of coffee with no caffeine. Breeding and hybridizing is still ongoing

 Around mid 19th century, another specie made its debut in the coffee regions, the canéphora, with better resistance to the common diseases and two times higher yield and almost two times higher caffeine content, but with a lesser quality than the arábica.  The beans make strong, but bitter coffee. It is frequently used as filler. In blends it is preferred in Italy for the strong flavor.  I personally do not qualify this specie as having a bad quality. The bitterness is just due to the higher caffeine content.

 This specie originally is from the central African region, Cameroun and neighboring countries. They are less or not susceptible to diseases of the arabicas. Vietnam converted most of its cultivation to this specie.

 During the problems at the end of the 19th century, liberica coffee from Liberia and Ivory Coast was introduced in the coffee growing regions and although the significance of this specie is very limited it is cultivated in Western Africa, Malaysia, Philippines and Coastal area of Suriname, where labor became a problem, after the abolishment of slavery.

 The Dutch also introduced it in some parts of Indonesia at the same time. The variety Barako saved the Philippines coffee culture. The plants grow up to 18 meters high and withstand the climate issues as drought and heavy rain better.

The Harvesting of Coffee

coffee harvestThe harvest of the Coffea arábica is very expensive as it has to be done by hand to pick only the ripe drupes. The ripeness of the drupes is crucial in this specie as it affects the taste. The plants are much smaller than the other two species and it is still the most important specie in the coffee market with some 2/3 of the total production.

 Although at the end of the 19th century it was almost blown away by diseases and pests. The rapid action to control this problem and bringing it back in proportion, avoided this disaster.  Harvest in the western hemisphere is done mostly in the winter months (Brazil), while in Asia (Indonesia) harvesting is done year around.

 Another advantage of canéphora specie is, that the harvest season is much more prolonged and the flowers are not damaged by heavy rains. The ripened fruits also stay on the tree. Vietnam converted most of its cultivation to this specie. The harvest may be mechanized.

As the trees are taller, the workers need to use ladders, most made of bamboo.

Harvest of the libérica is done in the same way as the canéphora and further shares most of the resistance to climate problems with that specie.

 The most expensive coffees in the world are those recovered from the droppings of Civet cats and rodents. The price may run up to $600 to $700 per pound. The coffee drupes are eaten by these animals and the seeds are dropped with the husk in tact, to be collected later by hand. These coffee beans come from Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

Hype or not, the taste in general is very smooth and special, an evidence that fermentation process of the pulp is essential in the preparation of the drupes. the price is mostly hyped, although due to quantities and harvesting method the price is surely influenced.

 There are many ratsnakes in the coffee fields, scaring much of the workers. One coffee plantation in Brazil, at one time, thought to please the workers and eradicate most of the snakes. They, however, soon had to reverse the measure as the action provoked an explosion of rats. Never ever disturb the natural balance of nature, unless there are other mechanisms in place.

In the Americas the single seeded drupes, which normally appear at the end of the branches, are frequently selected out and traded separately under the name of Caracolillo or Peaberry, The name Caracolillo is given to these single seeded drupes, because the seeds being single in the drupes forms a round green seed, more or less resembling a small snail shell. It is on one hand good to select this drupes as the green coffee performs different during roasting. The extra quality to this this selected beans is mostly perception.

World Production

The major coffee producing regions lie in the tropics,  23° north and south of the equator, Nowadays more than half the world production comes from the Americas with 58.3% in 2011, followed by Asia & Oceania, with 26.9% and Africa with 14.7.

 The world coffee production from a little over 70 producing and exporting countries, reached almost 8 million tons in 2011 and from this, 63.2% came from arábica species and 36,8% from canéphora, mainly variety Robusta.

 Brazil remained the highest producer with 32.8%, followed by Vietnam with 14.0%, Ethiopia with 7.4%, Indonesia and Columbia with respectively 6.6% and 6.4%.

Content:

  1. Coffee cultivation, harvesting and production
  2. Coffee processing, roasting and consumption

We would appreciate your comments. For questions please contact us

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Coffee – Cont. 2

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Coffee – The Social Drink Of Choice

 Preparation of the Drupes

Coffee_beans__in_jutebagsThe drupes have an outer skin or exocarp of varying thickness, depending of the specie. Under the skin is the pulp or mesocarp and the husk or endocarp, a parchment-like cover around each seed.

 In the preparation of the coffee drupes the skin and pulp are first removed, by either a dry method or a wet method, the latter either with or without fermenting. The wet method with a brief fermenting period normally delivers a better quality. Although with some arábica varieties it is cost effective to dry the entire fruit and run it through the huller, a mechanical processor, which normally removes the husk.

 The wet method causes lots of contamination, therefore care should be taken to contain the discarded skin and pulp in ponds and let the water drain from there. This material is useful as a medium to grow rice straw mushrooms, Volvariella volvacea

 In other species, with larger seeds or so-called beans, the process is separate. First removing skin and pulp and after a drying period the husk is removed in the huller. The husk can be used for burning in ovens.

 Finally the silver skin is removed, using brushes and blowers. The seeds need to be dried to a proper moister content and stored in jute bags of 60 kg. Care should be taken that the storage room is properly ventilated, to avoid investment by fungi, like Aspergillus flavus, producing the carcinogen Afla toxin.

 Coffee beans should also be protected, to avoid investment by insects and rodents, damaging and contaminating the seeds.

Decaffeination

 Caffeine is the main ingredient in the coffee, known by the scientific name of 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, with the isomers Xanthines, Theobromine also stimulant in Cacao, and Theophylline.

Caffeine is the most widely used psycho-stimulant in the world, with physiological effects as:

  • Slightly diuretic
  • Dilation of the coronary vessels
  • Stimulation of the central nervous system
  • Stimulation of gastric acid secretion
  • Elevation of free fatty acids and glucose

Because of these effects it is frequently advised to patients, with medical conditions, to consume decaffeinated coffee

The process of decaffeination is done in the green coffee stage. The Europeans and Canada have a standard for decaffeinated coffee of 0.01% in the beans and 0.03% in instant coffee.  Internationally de standard is 3%, i.e. 3% caffeine remains in the beans.

 Although it is denied, in my opinion some of the taste and flavor is lost in this process. The drinking of decaf coffee, as is popularly called, is specially for people who really cannot take caffeine for whatever reason. Fact is that caffeine is metabolized by the liver and although it varies significantly between the individual. Younger man normally get rid of it very soon, slower in women and the slowest in pregnant women.

 The four methods of decaffeination are:

    •          Water Method, where the caffeine is forced out of the swollen beans with            vapor
    •          The Ethyl-Acetate Method
    •          The Carbon Dioxide Method
    •          The Methylene Chloride Method

There also exist a standard for residues of the chemicals and as reported the flavor is the best guarded with the latter method.

WARNING! Studies of decaffeinated coffee samples, found varying quantities of caffeine. It is logical, as with the various blends and methods of roasting, grinding, extraction and decaffeination, the caffeine content in the basic products varies significantly. If for whatever reason, one needs to lower the intake of caffeine, it is advisable to lower the amounts of decaffeinated cups consumed as well.

The Process of Roasting

The process of roasting is a very crucial one for the flavor of the coffee. In the first place the beans need to be selected carefully to be of near equal size and then the amount of heat and the time of the roasting should be monitored closely. 

Here comes also the special roasting instruction for Caracolillo (Peaberry) beans, which don’t have the flat side. and are rolling more evenly through the roaster. Because of this fact, the roasting time can be slightly reduced.

 The moment the oil starts coming out of the beans the roasting must stop and the cooling should follow swiftly. The sound of the beans rolling over each other sounds like broken glass. And that is just right. Do not burn the oil nor the near twenty organic acids and loosing the caffeine up to 38%. The acids can be sufficiently neutralized, with  a simple additive, during extracting, which also enhances the taste.

Anyway watch out for carbonizing the beans, which may provoke health issues. All these issues are described in my booklet, “Coffee – From Roast to the Ideal Cup“, available at Amazon.
One possible health risk of Dark Roasting is the formation of Acrylamide, a Neuro Toxin. The health risks of this substance is still under investigation in the USA and in Europe, but it has the potential of being Carcinogenic and causing changes in DNA.
It starts forming at temperatures around 120°C and is decomposed above 175°C, but in between, many elements of taste and flavor are also burned.
For this reason you may find lower Acrylamide  contents in Dark Roast than normal Roast. Brewing also decomposes Acrylamide to some extent.

I definitely do not agree to the special roasts for special styles. The roasting should be equal for whatever style. Roasting beyond the second crack,  starts to burn the oils and the organic acids and the caffeine, which are essential for the flavor and aroma. The fineness of the grinding should differ for the way of extracting the coffee such as cooking, drip, percolation or forced steam method etc. These processes are in full described in my booklet.

To enjoy a good cup of coffee one should grind the amount needed to extract to preserve the flavor in the whole beans, if vacuum packing is not an option. The Dutch gained lots of experience in the more than three hundred years of coffee trade. The well known blends of the various brands speak for themselves. 

 Canéphora var.Robusta, after roasting, has a strong, full body flavor, but a little bitter due to the higher caffeine content, almost twice as high as that of arábica. It is a good candidate for blends and I definitely not consider this as being inferior in quality. The taste and flavor of the arabicas is mild.

World Coffee Consumption

coffee in cupIn 2011 the world consumed 7.9 million metric tons, which is 2% less than in 2010 and practically equal to 2009. Importing countries were the highest consumers with around 69% and producing countries 31%.

 The consumption per capita is in my opinion not accurate looking at the conflicting data reported by different organizations. Clear is that the European countries are the highest consumers, with absolute higher consumption in the Scandinavian countries and Finland around the 12kg per capita. More to the South the consumption is lower to about 5kg per capita and the consumption in the USA around 4kg.

Fact is that more and more young people start drinking coffee, probably becoming a social drink of choice with the rising number of specialized coffee shops.

Content:

  1. Coffee cultivation, harvesting and production
  2. Coffee processing, roasting and consumption

We would appreciate your comments. For questions please contact us

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Coffee – Introduction

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Coffee – The Social Drink Of Choice

 Introduction

Coffee beansCoffee is the drink of choice for so many people around the world. The value of coffee traded, measured by monetary volume, is second only after oil. This has evolved after coffee started its global popularity in the second half of the 19th century.

Coffee comes from the drupes or stone fruits of a plant of the family of Rubiaceae, sub-family Ixoroideae and genus Coffea, with more than hundred species. The taxonomic studies of the genus are still in full swing. Many species are for the time being only of scientific importance. The possibilities to hybridize for disease resistance and for obtaining natural hybrids without caffeine are some challenges.

There is also much confusion about species and varieties, as the taxonomic studies are still not completed.

See the rest of the content:

  1. Coffee cultivation, harvesting and production
  2. Coffee processing, roasting and consumption

Note: Over 60% and growing, of the Trade goes via the Fair Trade Principles. Some regions are still not included.

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