If you think coffee is just coffee, you might be surprised at what you're about to read. Sure, you might grant me that some coffees taste better than others...but what's the big deal?
Well, as we learned, quite a bit.
Let's start with the first difference - the type of coffee bean used to brew your cup.
Arabica v. Robusta - Battle of the Beans
In the world of coffee, there are two types of beans that are most often brewed in your cup.
Arabica beans are the most-prized type of bean. They create a cup that is smooth, balanced and delicious.
Arabica plants also require a very specific climate to grow and generally yield less beans. This is why Arabica beans can cost up to twice as much on the commodity market.
Robusta beans are often used in blends to cut production costs.
These beans are naturally higher in caffeine. You may think this is a good thing, but caffeine is what makes coffee taste bitter. This higher caffeine content also makes them more resistant to pests and disease, which also contributes to the price difference.
Some instant coffees on the market are all Robusta, which many have commented taste "rubbery" or like "burnt tires."
Before I get accused of being called a coffee snob, there's a reason I'm telling you this. Of course, in a pinch and especially in a survival situation, any coffee is always better than no coffee.
However, sometimes in an emergency situation, small pleasures can make a big difference. If your escape from the madness is the best cup you can brew up, then it really helps to have quality ingredients. Better coffee can also be more valuable if you're bartering - a common scenario in a long-term crisis.
When we were developing our Franklin's Finest Survival Coffee we probably sampled over 50 different types of coffee. When we tried the 100% Colombian, grown in one of the best regions of Colombia for coffee production, we knew we had our winner. The growers encouraged us to blend this Arabica with a cheaper Robusta bean to reduce costs, but I knew once I had experienced the full, smooth flavor of the 100% Colombian Arabica that I would have a hard time feeling good about myself if we altered it in any way.
Franklin's Finest (aptly named after one of our Founding Fathers who was a huge fan of coffee) was born and once again My Patriot Supply made history by innovating a new and exciting product that simply didn't exist before. We continue to import our Franklin's Finest 100% Colombian coffee directly from the growers.
More on that a bit later.
Yet, the dirty secrets don't stop with Robusta beans. To make up for using inferior beans, many coffee producers sink to new lows to try and make it taste better. But it's actually worse, in my opinion...
Anyone take their coffee with additives?
Another ugly truth, coffee lovers must beware of coffee with unwanted additives.
The American Chemical Society published a report in 2014 that found the following additives in coffee:
There are two reasons coffee producers are using these additives. As mentioned earlier, the first is an attempt to make an inferior product taste better.
Second, shortages have compelled producers to extend their supply by using the fillers. These shortages are a huge reason we recommend stocking up on high-quality coffee now, because it could become scarce and extremely valuable. If a crisis erupts, you should have enough for your own consumption and a cache of it for barter.
Preserving that fresh-brewed taste - for decades
To make the world's first survival coffee, we knew that we wanted only the best 100% Colombian beans. We swore to never use additives - not that we needed anything to make it taste better! The final piece was to figure out how to ensure long-term storage for emergency preparedness.
In our research & development phase we discovered that ground coffee beans have an incredibly short shelf life of less than two years.
We also discovered that whole coffee beans cannot be packaged for long term storage as they naturally emit gasses that prevent you from creating a hermetically sealed, or air-tight, package.
We found the option of green coffee beans. But green coffee beans require the consumer to not only roast the beans but also to grind them before being able to make their morning cup of Joe.
I don't know about you, but I can think of 100 things I'd rather be doing in a crisis than roasting and grinding coffee beans! On top of that, green coffee didn't have the shelf life we wanted to obtain.
We finally discovered that freeze-dried coffee, when packaged properly, has a shelf life of over 25 years. The problem? No one in the freeze-dried coffee business knew how to properly package the product for an extended shelf life. We already understand the science of long-term food storage, and so we brought this in-house and packaged it the same way we do with our long-term food products. The end result? A survival coffee that will stand the test of time.
But wait - many people ask, "It can't be that good if it's instant, right?"
Again, the problem with instant coffee that you'll find in any store (other than not being shelf stable) is that they mix, cut, and blend the coffee with the cheapest ingredients available. Some of those ingredients aren't even coffee!
Freeze-drying is an expensive process, and instant coffee manufacturers have made every attempt to cut costs. They feel they only need to retain enough flavor that consumers will buy it in a pinch. Not our coffee. We went to lengths to create an instant coffee that you swore was fresh-roasted days ago.
I hope now you'll understand why we're always buzzing - pun intended - about our Franklin's Finest Survival Coffee.
Have a great weekend and see you next week for another stimulating (whoops) article.