Full text of What You Didn’t Know About Coffee by Asher Yaron at TEDxUbud event.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: What you didn’t know about coffee Asher Yaron at TEDxUbud
Who drank coffee this morning? Yes! You, and hundreds of millions of others like you around the world. Which makes coffee arguably the most important discovery in the history of humankind.
Today, coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world, second only to crude oil.
It’s the second most popular drink in the world. Water is number one — and it’s been credited with ushering in the age of enlightenment. Yet, 95% of the roasted coffee in the world is 100% old, stale and dead.
Coffee once roasted is a fresh, living food, and loses its vitality, and dies in about a week. And it doesn’t matter if it’s vacuum sealed, nitrogen flushed, or any other fancy packaging process, nothing can prevent its death. And storing it in the refrigerator or freezer, does more harm than good.
So, there are varying legends of how coffee was first discovered.
What we do know, is that coffee’s early usage held a mystical and spiritual importance among many cultures. Initially, coffee was prepared and consumed as part of religious ceremonies. Monks used it to stay awake at night during long periods of prayer, and to attain higher states of consciousness. They were drinking coffee prepared like this.
So we’ve evolved. From a handful of spiritual seekers consuming this beverage to today, where hundreds of millions of people, like yourselves, all around the world, drink coffee every morning.
In our desire to make this special drink available to the masses, we’ve sacrificed quality for quantity. It’s my mission to recapture the mystical powerful effects of fresh roasted coffee, and make them available to the masses.
Are you ready for the age of enlightenment 2.0?
Asher Yaron: All right. This is the branch of an arabica coffee tree grown here in Bali. The cherries on this tree have seeds inside. Coffee beans — they’re not beans, they are seeds. They are seeds of the coffee cherries.
Over 90% of these seeds — these cherries have two seeds — they are the females, and only 5% to 10% have one seed — the male. Once roasted, they taste different. One is more bitter than the other but that’s a whole another talk, we’re not going to get into that.
These cherries are, actually, a sweet, edible fruit. Here, try it.
Now, once these seeds are separated from the fruit, they’re dried. Looks like these. Once they’re properly dried, they can be stored for months, even years. But, once roasted, they have a very short life span, and need to be consumed within a week to obtain the maximum amount of potency and freshness from them. Roasted coffee is a fresh food, and should be treated that way.
Now, during the roasting process there are over 1500 chemical reactions that take place. Just think about that for a minute. We don’t have a minute… Let’s think about that for 10 seconds. 1500 different chemical reactions. The seeds are completely transformed from their dried, green, inert state, to their alive, fresh roasted state, where they can be assimilated by our bodies.
The seeds have become in this process a pharmacological resource that can benefit our human brains and bodies in ways we have not even begun to discover.
Now, let’s take a look at some coffee roasters. This is a one-kilo roaster. For those of you who are metrically challenged, that’s 2.2 pounds. Cost: $6,000.
Three-kilo roaster, 6.6 pounds, for the metrically challenged — $13,000.
And a five-kilo roaster… $18,000.
Folks, technology for roasting coffee — it’s pretty simple. You just need heat. Tin roasting pan… $0.75? Indigenous coffee cultures around the world they roast their coffee like this. Their focus is on freshness, and immediate consumption.
Commercial coffee cultures roast their coffee like this. Their focus is on marketing, packaging, and shelf-life. One produces coffee that is alive, vital, potent. The other produces coffee that sits on the shelves for weeks and months, and is old, stale and dead.
Now, roasting coffee is a lot like making popcorn. You heat up the seeds, and after a while, they smoke and pop, or crack. There are actually two cracks. When the louder second crack is just beginning, turn off the heat, you start the cooling process.
Not a lot of mystery here. Takes a little practice to know when to turn off the heat. But, if you can make popcorn without burning it, then you can roast coffee.
After the coffee is roasted and cooled, it goes through a period that it needs to settle. So, it takes a while for the beans to settle, even though they’ve been cooled. But this time period is several hours. Not days, not weeks… like some of the mass coffee producers claim.
My own tests have determined a peak potency time for espresso of 11 hours after roasting. And a maximum freshness cut-off date of 7 days after roasting.
Recent studies about benefits of coffee
Let’s take a look at some recent studies that have come out about the benefits of coffee — which there are many.
These studies… what are they studying? They’re studying old, dead, stale coffee! Or people who drink old, stale, dead coffee. I have not seen a single study that has used coffee within a few days of roasting, let alone its peak time, or within 24 hours.
I can tell you from my own experience, and how it feels in my body — and tests are done for myself, there are so many more health benefits that have not even been discovered yet. Not even touched.
Yet, these reports are showing that coffee has a lot of health benefits. It’s the number one source of antioxidants in the US diet.
A study just came out in the last week, that showed that people who drank coffee tended to live longer. There is a lot more to discover about coffee, even though it’s been around for so long.
I have been on a 10-year quest for the perfect cup of coffee. Didn’t even know what that tasted like, because I’d never had it before. I just knew, somehow, it was out there. I tried everything.
In the beginning, I focused my efforts on upgrading my coffee making equipment, thinking that was the answer. fter several years, not much progress, and acquiring an Italian espresso machine and a burr grinder, didn’t know what else to try. It didn’t even occur to me that the roasted coffee I was using made the difference. Because everything I tried, in its vacuum sealed, space-age packaging, all tasted the same. It was consistent.
Now I know, it was consistently old, stale and dead — but at the time I didn’t know it.
Then one day, some friends gave me a gift. It looked like this. They said it was fresh roasted coffee, that they roasted at home, in their hot air popcorn popper. I had no idea what they were talking about at the time.
But the next morning I decided, “I’ve tried everything else, I’ll give it a try.”
As soon as I took that first sip, I knew immediately – this was what I’d been searching for. All of a sudden, a lighting bolt came out of the sky, I was surrounded by white light, angels, courts of angels! Not really.
But, my life changed in that moment. And like all home roasters, I started to look around my house ways to roast coffee. Home roasters, we are an innovative, wacky bunch. We turn ordinary household appliances into coffee roasters — Hairdryers, heat guns, hot air popcorn poppers, some smoke out their roommates using a pan on the stove — I looked around my house, I re-discovered my outdoor barbecue grill.