Coffee is not just a bean that grows on a plant, it is so much more! From seed to plant to fruit to bean to roast to cup; coffee is an experience. Coffee is a fruit with a variety of layers with the resemblance of a small grape. The coffee bean is a mystical fruit that grows all over the world in some of the most exotic locations across the globe!
Coffee plants have so many layers and unique personalities. Coffee plants look like small Christmas trees that have leaves that grow in pairs. The leaves on a Coffee tree can vary in color with the most popular color being green, but there are yellow and even purple leaved trees. The coffee cherry grows alongside the trees branches and after a year of thriving, a beautiful white blossom blooms with an elegant scent that smells much like Jasmine. These Flowers only live for 2-3 days, so it is a pleasure to be able to see and smell them!
If your interest is piqued, please read further to understand more about each part of a coffee tree & the processes involved in providing the drink many know and love that we call “coffee”. The saying “hard work pays off” is true for the coffee process.
First off the coffee plants are grown in warm tropical and subtropical climates by farmers all around the world; each plant takes 4 to 5 years to start producing small green cherries that hold two coffee seeds. The coffee seeds are protected by 3 layers of skin: the first layer consist of a tough red outer coat, under this layer is a fleshy pulp surrounding a layer of protective parchment and silver skin that encloses two round and or oval seeds. Each of the coffee cherries described are picked by hand. Consider this : according to the latest coffee statistics from the International Coffee Organization (ICO), we pour about 1.4 billion cups of coffee a day worldwide. That's a lot of coffee, and about 45 percent of it (400 million cups a day!) is drunk in the United States.
Farmers are picking enormous amounts of beans to satisfy the coffee demands worldwide! Once the farmers pick the coffee they have a choice to either replant the bean as a seed or use the bean to be processed to produce green coffee beans (coffee beans are green with a hay scent before they even make it to the roaster).
There are 8 processes a coffee bean endures before reaching your cup.
The First Process: Depulping. Depulping is a process of separating the coffee seeds from the 3 outer layers of flesh. After the bean has been handpicked, is to be depulped within 24 hours of picking the seed. If the seeds are not depuled within 24 hours of being picked they will produce an overly fruity and possibly rotten flavor that will ruin the quality of the coffee.
This is a “high touch” manual process as the beans have to be depulped in a manual depulping machine. A hand depulper is a machine with a small rotating burr that separates the outer layer and the two coffee beans.
The Second Process: Fermentation. In order to ferment the depulped coffee beans the farmers have to deposit the beans into large clean tanks that are made of cement, wood, and sometimes even plastic water collection receptacles. When the beans are fermenting, the mucilage that is left on the bean after the depulping process is transformed from natural sugars to liquid. The time it takes to ferment the beans depends on the country, altitude, and humidity of a particular area. It could take four hours or three days to finish this stage of the coffee bean.
The Third Process: “Wet processing”. This process washes the coffee beans in a series of concrete or wood channels with clean water. Water processing ensures that the fermentation process has stopped.
The Fourth Process: Drying. The drying process of the coffee bean is very important and can take three to fourteen days; depending on the weather. The farmers have to make sure they turn the drying coffee many times each day, and that it does not come into contact with any water after the washing process is over.
The Fifth Process: Sorting. Once the drying process is over the beans are sent to be sorted in the warehouses to prepare for export. The green coffee beans are sorted by hand, removing all of the defects at individual and group tables.
The Sixth Process: Export/Import. The beans are then shipped from farms to the roasters (us) and brokers around the world.
The Seventh Process: Roasting. : The roasting process seems fairly simple: the roaster sets, monitors, and adjusts heat, time, and airflow to get the desired results from each bean. However, creating recipes/profiles for each bean can be complex, an art if you will. Our roasters masters have carefully selected beans from all over the world, and have done the hard work to create recipes/profiles to bring out the best characteristics in each batch of coffee we roast. We are always learning, taking feedback from our raving fans, and never stop experimenting to raise the bar on what it means to make a great cup of coffee.
The Eight Process: Brewing. Brewing the coffee is just as important as where the plants are grown. There are so many ways to enjoy your coffee: the most common way to enjoy the bean is by placing your fresh ground coffee into a coffee pot and letting the water drip through; but for a more robust coffee, connoisseurs prefer a French press or pour over, There is also cold brew and espresso shots.
Coffee is not just a bean; it is an experience from farm to cup!
We encourage you to learn more about the beans you purchase and the way you love them brewed! Once you find your favorite beans, and the way to brew them, you will enjoy that cup of Joe 100% more!
I hope that your questions were answered, and that you feel more confident when you purchase one of our premium coffees.
Picked with care, Roasted with Passion & Brewed with Love. Barb City Roasters