Espresso 101

In the Beginning Coffee Timeline Common Questions Lingo The Bean The Roast

In the Beginning

Legend has it; coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. One day, he noticed his goats frolicking around in an unusually spirited manner. He observed that they were also eating the berries of a nearby shrub.

Not being one to be left out of all the fun, he decided to try the berries himself. He was energized and pleased with the effects the cherries had on him. He told his friends and soon word spread throughout the region. The rest is history.


c 850
First known discovery of coffee berries. Legend of goat herder Kaldi of Ethiopia who notices goats are friskier after eating red berries of a local shrub. Experiments with the berries himself and begins to feel happier.

c 1100
The coffee first trees are cultivated on the Arabian peninsula. Coffee is first roasted and boiled by Arabs making "qahwa" --- a beverage made from plants.

The worlds first coffee shop opens in Constantinople. It is followed by the establishment of two coffee houses in 1554.

c 1600
Coffee enters Europe through the port of Venice. The first coffeehouse opens in Italy in 1654.

Coffee is introduced to the New World by Captain John Smith, founder of Virginia at Jamestown... Some Canadian historians claim it arrived in previously settled Canada.

The first coffeehouse opens in England. Coffeehouses are called "penny universities" (a penny is charged for admission and a cup of coffee). Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse opens in 1688. It eventually becomes Lloyd's of London, the world's best known insurance company.  The word “TIPS” is coined in an English coffee house:  A sign reading “To Insure Prompt Service” (TIPS) was place by a cup.  Those desiring prompt service and better seating threw a coin into a tin.

The opening of the first Parisian cafe dedicated to serving coffee. In 1713, King Louis XIV is presented with a coffee tree. It is believed that sugar was first used as an additive in his court.

The first coffeehouse opens in Vienna. The Turks, defeated in battle, leave sacks of coffee behind.

The Dutch become the first to transport and cultivate coffee commercially. Coffee is smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha and transported to Ceylon and East Indies for cultivation.

The first coffeehouse opens in Berlin.

Coffee Plants are introduced in the Americas for cultivation. Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, transports a seedling to Martinique. By 1777, 1920 million coffee plants are cultivated on the island.

The Brazilian coffee industry gets its start from seedlings smuggled out of Paris.

One of Europe's first coffeehouses, Cafe Greco, opens in Rome. By 1763, Venice has over 2,000 coffee shops.

The prototype of the first espresso machine is created in France.

A process of using natural gas and hot air becomes the most popular method of roasting coffee.

c 1900
Kaffeeklatsch, afternoon coffee, becomes popular in Germany.

The first commercial espresso machine is manufactured in Italy.

The invention of the worlds first drip coffeemaker. Melitta Bentz makes a filter using blotting paper.

Dr. Ernest Illy develops the first automatic espresso machine.

Nescafé instant coffee is invented by the Nestlé company as it assists the Brazilian government in solving its coffee surplus problem.

Achilles Gaggia perfects the espresso machine with a piston that creates a high pressure extraction to produce a thick layer of crema.

Caffé Carissimi Canada, a network of espresso service providers is formed in Canada, modeled after a visit to Franco Carissimi (roaster and equipment manufacturer) in Bergamo, Italy. It becomes the fastest growing network of private and independent super automatic machines providers in Canada

Coffee is the world's most popular beverage. More than 400 billion cups are consumed each year. It is a world commodity that is second only to oil.

Aimee's Café and Coffeehouse opens in Lawrence, Kansas.

Common Questions

Is caffeine harmful to me?

Experiments conducted in the recent past, trying to link birth defects, cancer and coronary heart disease to the intake of coffee (caffeine) have been unsuccessful or conflicting at best.

Physiological effects of caffeine on the human body are somewhat understood and well documented. The main physiological effect of caffeine appears to be as a stimulant of the central nervous system and most of the effects observed are behavioral in nature. Caffeine is associated with an increase in intellectual activity, but this seems to be significant only when the individual is fatigued or bored. Similarly, caffeine has been linked with sleeping problems and although there is evidence to support this, the variation from individual to individual is considerable.

Caffeine has also an effect on the cardiovascular system by relaxation of the smooth muscles of blood vessels and an increase in heart output. However, the observed increase in blood pressure disappeared after repeated ingestion of caffeine (250 mg. 3 times a day for 7 days). The reasons for this adaptive process are not clear.

Caffeine has been proven to increase gastric acid secretion, therefore is a preferred after-meal beverage. Although there is no clear evidence to link excessive coffee consumption with incidence of peptic ulcers, coffee (caffeine) ingestion is clearly undesirable for ulcerated persons. Persons with ulcers should avoid the increase gastric acids in their stomachs.

Pregnant women should reduce the intake of coffee, tea, soda or any caffeinated beverage to moderate amounts. Caffeine intake in moderation is believed to be safe during pregnancy, as stated by the US Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association.

In 1991, caffeine was blamed by a Swedish study as contributing to the increase in cholesterol level. In 1994, this report was discredited as confusing coffee lipids with cholesterol contributing agents. Decaffeinated coffees were more recently linked to increases in cholesterol. This study was later proven conflicting and doubtful. Another study later showed caffeine contributing to the decrease in cholesterol, this is also doubtful.

The coffee controversy is not new, it has been continuing for centuries long. The first controversy dates back to the introduction of coffee into Europe. Pope Clement VIII was asked by the Roman clergy to ban the brew because it was the "Devil's drink". Well, this was a retaliation move for the Islam banning wine as a "Demonic drink". Fortunately, the Pope liked the coffee so much he blessed it, converting it into a Christian beverage. The 15th Century coffee houses, became so popular that they were identified as dens of immorality and vice.

Coffee houses and coffee were extremely popular in the 17th Century London< (they were the origin of Lloyd's of London and many other big enterprises). Historians claim that coffee houses drew men from their homes making lonely wives (banned from coffee houses) angry at the beverage. A petition drafted complaining, requesting the closure of these coffee houses and a large advertisement in favor of tea, converted this coffee loving nation into tea drinkers. Colonial America would have followed London's tea preference, with the exception of the "Boston Tea Party" which changed all that and much more.

Be your own judge, most people can enjoy coffee on a regular basis without adverse effects. Moderation is key, but moderation is differently measured by each individual.

How is coffee decaffeinated?

Coffee is decaffeinated by removing 97% or more of the naturally existing caffeine from the green beans before roasting.

Some common methods of extracting caffeine are:

How much caffeine does coffee contain?

The species of the plant and the geographic region and altitude of growth determine a coffee's caffeine content. Normally, the lower the altitude of growth, the higher the caffeine content of the bean. For example, robusta coffee -- the other principal botanical species, which is used primarily in blended, canned coffees -- normally has twice the caffeine content of arabica (specialty or gourmet) coffee. A five-ounce cup of coffee will contain from 75 to 155 milligrams (.0026 to .0054 ounces) of caffeine, depending on the type of bean, brewing method and amount of coffee used. The percentage content in arabica coffee is the lowest in caffeine with 1.53%. The robustas contain 6% on the average.

Are coffee trees sprayed with chemicals to protect against insect infestations?

In some areas, chemicals are needed to control insects. Spraying may touch coffee cherries. The coffee beans are practically unaffected. These are covered by layers of pulp (or fruit), parchment and silver skin. These components are removed in the processing of coffee, taking the chemical residue with them. Further, the roasting and brewing of coffees exposes any residues of chemicals to high temperature, hence further assuring their elimination.

Is organically grown coffee available?

Organically grown coffees are available in extremely limited supply. By US Federal guidelines, an organically grown coffee cannot have been exposed to herbicides, pesticides, insecticides or commercially produced fertilizers. The price for organically grown coffees is significantly higher than non-organically grown coffees.

In our opinion, there is no value in purchasing organically grown coffees. Many organically grown coffees come from farms which have been recently converted into organic farms. Well, a farm which has been submitted to pesticides and herbicides or other decades-long chemical treatments, will not suddenly become a clean, pesticide-free coffee farm, at least not in our life time. Farm certification programs to determine "Organic" are based on laboratory tests paid by the companies interested in obtaining certification. There are no Government based or truly independent verification test organizations. We have so far, not heard of any one seeking certification and not obtaining it. So, we are a bit skeptic about the overall "Organic Certification" program.

And here is more, we can see why anyone would be concerned about eating a fruit or a raw vegetable which has been sprayed with chemicals. This can be obviously harmful as the result of the fruit being directly exposed to chemicals. But let's take a rational look at the coffee processing and the potential for chemical residues in the cup.

Chemical spraying may touch coffee cherries. The coffee beans are practically unaffected; these are covered by layers of pulp (or fruit), parchment and silver skin. All of which is removed in the processing of coffee (coffee beans are the coffee seed), taking large amounts of chemical residues with them. Now, let's assume that there are residues of chemicals in the remaining coffee beans. Coffee beans are subject to days long drying which can extract some of these chemical residues. Further, coffee is then roasted at temperatures in the range of 350-500oF which would remove any remaining chemicals. As a final step we all brew the coffee, submitting coffee to heat (approx. 200oF), once more. Any residues of chemicals at this point should be minimal and insignificant.

Please note that the above opinions are based solely on rational and theoretical knowledge of chemistry. We have not performed any tests to prove our theory, but we feel that our opinions are reasonable and obvious to anyone with basic knowledge of science. The only issue remaining is what, if any residues may remain in the coffee cup.

In summary, we believe that the organic coffee industry is aimed at extracting additional income from the consumer and it has not proven, to our satisfaction, the need or the authenticity of organic coffees.


There are an almost inexhaustible number of possibilities when it comes to coffee and it can all seem overwhelming. To help guide you through all the choices and find the perfect beverage for you we offer this basic guide.

Many of our beverages begin with Espresso. Espresso, Italian for "fast", is used to describe coffee preparation. Espresso coffee is made through pressure brewing rather than more common drip or gravity brewing. "Pulling" a perfect shot of Espresso is arrived at by pressure injection of water heated to precise levels through coffee ground expressly for that purpose and done within a very precise amount of time. An Espresso that takes too long to pull will be overly strong while an Espresso pulled too quickly will be too weak. While experience certainly contributes to pulling the perfect shot of Espresso, we check our equipment frequently by timing the pull, and checking our pressure and tamp. It's all about getting that perfect shot!

Here are some of our more popular beverages.

Cappuccino Ratio This famous beverage is made of approximately 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foamed milk. The drink's name is attributed to Capuchin friars and resembles the robes they wear.
This beverage begins with a significant portion of steamed milk and milk foam to which a shot of espresso is added.
Mocha Ratio This beverage is a mixture of espresso, steamed milk and chocolate syrup.
Cafe Au Lait Ratio This traditionally French drink is made with equal parts of brewed coffee and steamed milk topped with steamed milk foam.
Americano Ratio American drip coffee--Italian style. Made from espresso and hot water. This results in a stronger version of brewed coffee.
Shot in the Dark Ratio This beverage is made from brewed coffee topped with espresso.

And of course at Aimee’s we aren't limited to hot beverages only.  We have a wide variety of iced drinks as well.  Actually, you can request that any of our hot beverages be prepared as an iced drink.  We also offer a selection of blended beverages in a wide variety of flavor possibilities.  Don't hesitate to ask any of our helpful baristas for a recommendation!

The Bean

photo of coffee beans

The Perfect Cup of coffee begins with the perfect blend of coffee.

But exactly what is a coffee bean?

While there are many species of coffee plant grown throughout the world the majority of coffee cultivation center on two; Arabica and Canephora or Robusta. Arabica plants grown primarily at higher elevations, take longer to mature and produce the higher quality product in terms of taste. Robusta plants thrive at lower altitudes, are easier to cultivate but yield a lesser quality coffee.  Robusta coffee is used primarily for canned and instant coffees.

Arabica is the earliest cultivated species of the coffee tree. It grows best in altitudes between 4000 and 6000 feet above sea level. It requires special soil conditions with just the right balance of warmth and moisture. It is considered a higher quality bean and produces very flavorful and aromatic coffee. It takes six to nine months to mature.

Because Arabica trees are susceptible to disease, frost, and drought, the beans fall to the ground soon after they ripen. Hence they must be harvested as soon as they ripen. They require careful labor-intensive cultivation and produce only 1 to 1.5 pounds of beans per year. Hence they are more expensive. The beans are low in caffeine content and high in flavor and aroma.

Arabica beans account for about 75% of the beans that are grown around the world.

Robusta grows best in altitudes above sea level and up to 2500 feet. It is mainly cultivated in West Africa and Southeast Asia. It is less flavorful and less aromatic. It is more tolerant of the cold and moisture. Robusta beans do not fall to the ground once they ripen, hence it does not need to be harvested immediately. This species is normally purchased as a 'filler' bean for canned coffees to reduce the roasters cost. Robusta has twice the caffeine content of Arabica. In fact, Robusta takes less time to mature, typically half the time needed for Arabica beans, and tend to yield twice as many cherries. It is also low in flavor and aroma, and is less expensive. It is usually found in instant coffee.

Robusta accounts for about 25% of the coffee grown around the world. Its taste is more of an earthy quality.

The Science of Caffeine

Chemical name of Caffeine
1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine
or also known as
3, 7-dihydro-1, 3, 7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2, 6,-dione




Raw beans in bags

At Aimee's Coffeehouse only a blend of superior Arabica varietals roasted to our rigid specifications are used in the preparation of our beverages. We also serve and sell other single or blended varietals. We sell all of our coffees so that you can enjoy them at home or work.

The coffee plant is a woody perennial evergreen dicotyledon that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. While a coffee plant may begin blossoming at 3 to 4 years, it is only after 7 years that they are fully matured and ready to produce fruit. Creamy white blossoms develop into small green fruit. The unripe fruit is unsuited for coffee production.

Over the course of 6 to 9 months the coffee tree fruit ripens into a bright red fruit referred to as "cherries" (not to be confused with the cherries used in baked pies, etc). During the ripening process the plant's fruit develops a pair of "endosperm" or seeds. It is the seed of the coffee tree fruit that will ultimately become the coffee we enjoy.

Interestingly, as a mature coffee tree is blossoming and has unripe and ripe fruit all at the same time. This complicates the harvesting process requiring the ripe cherries to be picked by hand on several repeat visits by the farmer. While there is some experimentation with mechanizing the harvest nothing at this time can replace the hard work of the coffee harvester discerning which cherries are ready for picking and then performing that task.

After the cherries are harvested they are processed for distribution using one of two methods; wet or dry. The later relies on letting the berries dry on the plant or picking the berries and then laying them out on cement to dry. Once dried the cherries are shipped to mills in larger cities where the bean is extracted by machine. This method is considered to produce generally inferior grade product as both under- and overripe berries are used.

A wet method of processing involves feeding the berries through machines which separate the bean from the berry fruit. As the material is fed through water the pulp floats to the top and is easily removed leaving behind the bean. The bean is then held in storage tanks for one to two days and allowed to ferment slightly prior to drying. This fermentation period allows the bean to be further cleaned.

After drying, the beans are then milled to remove the final husk covering them. The longer the beans are milled the more polished and refined they appear. However, over milling can harm the bean so particular care is taken during this step of production to help insure the highest grade product.

The final step is sorting and grading the beans. The sorting and grading process is pretty much subjective and regionalized. However, the sorting generally breaks down to size, shape and the altitude the beans were grown at. Of the total harvest only about 20 percent of the graded beans are judged premium coffee beans and is from this group that our coffee comes to us.

Aimee's Coffeehouse Always has at least one Fair Trade Coffee at all times. While the cost of this product may be higher than non-Fair Trade brews, we feel it important that coffee producers, many small family farms, be able to earn a fair wage for their work.

The Roast

photo of coffee roasting stages

Bringing coffee to the perfect roast is equal parts art and science. Each batch of Aimee's Coffee is slow roasted with our beans beginning as green. The beans are then roasted until the right balance of color and taste is achieved. To find out more about the roast or our roasters visit our links page and click on the PT's coffee link.








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