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Coffee Culture

Coffee Culture at Sacarello's Cafe GibraltarThe history of coffee goes back a long way. It was first drunk centuries ago in ancient Ethiopia, where a goatherd discovered that the red berries his goats were chewing made them very excitable. It was popular too with the local monks who could brew coffee to keep themselves awake for their matins. Over the decades its popularity has spread from the Middle East, where the word coffee originates from the Arabic word for wine, through Europe and to the USA.

Coffee is the fruit or berry of an evergreen tree. The two main trees are the Arabica and Robusta. Hand picked when ripe, the bean is separated from the berry and then dried and graded. The green bean keeps almost indefinitely and it is only on roasting that its unique aroma and flavour is released. Variations in colour, flavour and aroma develop according to the degree of roast.

In Federico Sacarello’s day, sacks of coffee beans were hauled from the beach on the backs of mules up Gibraltar’s rocky incline. The finest quality Arabica and Robusta beans were imported then, as they still are, from Africa and Latin America. First they were roasted and then blended into different brands to suit a variety of palates and Sacarello coffees became much sought after both on the Rock and in Southern Spain; in particular, their ‘Negrita’ brand became so famous that its symbol of a negress was adopted as a regular costume in the Cadiz Carnival.  Most of these traditions still live on today with Richard Sacarello taking on the role as ‘Roast Master’ at the warehouse off Devil’s Tower Road. A general rule of thumb is that the darker the roast, the more bitter and stronger the coffee. Freshly roasted beans are then ground to order ensuring freshness of taste and suitability of coffee making method.

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