From Seed to Cup
The coffee you drink every day has traveled a long distance to reach your cup. Coffee beans go through a standard series of stages to bring out their best between the time they’re grown, picked, and purchased.
A coffee bean is, in fact, a seed. It is used to make coffee after being dried, roasted, and ground. If the coffee seed is not treated, it can be planted and grown into a coffee tree.
In shaded nurseries, coffee seeds are typically grown in large beds. The seedlings will be watered frequently and kept out of direct sunlight until they are strong enough to be planted permanently. Planting is frequently done during the wet season to keep the soil moist as the roots establish themselves.
2. Getting the Cherries
It will take 3 to 4 years for newly planted coffee trees to develop fruit, depending on the variety. When the coffee cherry is mature and ready to be harvested, it turns a bright, deep red. Every year, there is usually one large harvest. There is a primary and secondary crop in nations such as Colombia, where there are two flowerings per year.
Most countries pick the crop by hand, which is a time-consuming and arduous procedure; but, in places like Brazil, where the environment is relatively flat and the coffee fields are vast, the process has been mechanized. All coffee is harvested in one of two ways, whether by hand or machine:
It will take 3 to 4 years for newly planted coffee trees to develop fruit, depending on the variety. There is a primary and secondary crop in nations such as Colombia. Most countries pick the crop by hand, but in Brazil, the process has become mechanized.
Strip Picked means that all of the cherries are removed from the branch at once, either by machine or by hand.Picked Selectively: Only ripe cherries are plucked, and they are picked individually by hand. Every eight to ten days, pickers rotate among the trees, selecting only the cherries that are at their ripest. Because this type of harvest is more labor consuming and expensive, it is generally employed to harvest the finer Arabica beans.
A good picker will select 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries every day, yielding 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. Each worker’s daily load is meticulously weighed, and each picker is compensated based on the quality of his or her work. The harvest for the day is then transferred to the processing factory.
The coffee cherry turns red when it is ready to be harvested. Most countries pick the crop by hand, but in Brazil, the process has been mechanized. Each worker’s daily load is meticulously weighed, and each picker is compensated based on the quality of his or her work.
3. The Cherries Are Being Processed
To avoid fruit spoiling, processing must begin as soon as possible after the coffee is gathered. Coffee is processed in one of two ways, depending on location and available resources:
The Dry Way is an age-old method of preparing coffee that is still utilized in many places with limited water resources. The cherries are simply laid out on large surfaces to dry in the sun after being plucked. To keep the cherries from deteriorating, they are raked and turned during the day, then covered at night or during rain to keep them dry. Depending on the weather, this process may take several weeks for each batch of coffee until the moisture level of the cherries reaches 11%.
After harvesting, the Wet Method eliminates the pulp from the coffee cherry, leaving only the parchment skin on the bean. To remove the skin and pulp from the bean, the freshly harvested cherries are first run through a pulping machine.
The beans are then segregated based on weight as they move through water channels. Lighter beans float to the surface, whereas heavier ripe beans sink to the bottom. They are separated by size as they pass through a succession of revolving drums.
The beans are separated and then transported to big, water-filled fermentation tanks. Depending on the state of the beans, the environment, and the altitude, they will stay in these tanks for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to remove the slippery layer of mucilage (called the parenchyma) that is still connected to the parchment. This layer will disintegrate while resting in the tanks due to naturally occurring enzymes.
When the fermenting process is complete, the beans will feel rough to the touch. The beans are cleaned and ready for drying after passing through additional water channels.
After picking cherries, coffee is processed in one of two ways: Wet or Dry Method. Coffee beans are separated and then transported to big, water-filled fermentation tanks. This removes the slippery layer of mucilage (called the parenchyma) that is still connected to the bean.
4. The Drying of the Beans
If the beans were processed wet, the pulped and fermented beans must now be dried to roughly 11 percent moisture to be safely stored.
These beans, still inside the parchment envelope (the endocarp), can be sun-dried by spreading them on drying tables or floors and turning them frequently, or machine-dried in huge tumblers. The dried beans, known as parchment coffee, are stored in jute or sisal bags until ready for shipment or .further value addition.
5. The Milling of the Beans
Before being shipped, parchment coffee is prepared as follows:
The parchment layer (endocarp) of wet processed coffee is removed by hulling gear. Hulling dry processed coffee refers to removing the complete dried husk of the dried cherries (exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp).
Polishing is an optional technique that removes any silver skin that remains on the beans after hulling. While polished beans are thought to be superior to unpolished beans, there is little difference between the two.
Grading and sorting are done by size and weight, and beans are also checked for color faults and other flaws.Beans are sized by passing them through a series of filters. They are also pneumatically sorted to distinguish heavy from light beans using an air jet.
The bean size is often indicated on a scale of 10 to 20. The number represents the diameter of a round hole in 1/64ths of an inch. A number 10 bean is about the size of a hole with a diameter of 10/64 of an inch, while a number 15 bean is about the size of a hole with a diameter of 15/64 of an inch.
Finally, faulty beans are removed manually or mechanically. Beans that are unsuitable owing to defects are removed (bad size or color, over-fermented beans, insect-damaged, unhulled). This process is done both by machine and by hand in several places, guaranteeing that only the highest quality coffee beans are exported.
Beans are sized by passing them through a series of filters and are pneumatically sorted to distinguish heavy from light beans using an air jet. Faulty beans are removed manually or mechanically.
6. Exportation of Beans
The milled beans, now known as green coffee, are placed into ships in jute or sisal bags loaded into shipping containers, or bulk-shipped within plastic-lined containers.
7. Coffee Tasting
Coffee is subjected to numerous quality and flavor tests. This procedure is known as cupping, and it is usually performed in a room specifically equipped for the purpose.
First, the taster, sometimes known as the cupper, assesses the beans’ overall visual quality. The beans are then roasted in a small laboratory roaster, quickly ground, and infused in boiling water at a temperature that is precisely controlled. The cupper noses the brew to get a sense of its scent, which is an important stage in determining the quality of the coffee.
After a few minutes of resting, the cupper breaks the crust by pushing the grounds at the top of the cup aside. Before the tasting, the coffee is nosed once more.
The cupper slurps a spoonful of coffee with a fast inhalation to taste it. The goal is to sprinkle the coffee uniformly over the cupper’s taste buds before weighing it on the tongue and spitting it out.
Every day, samples from various batches and types of beans are tasted. Coffees are evaluated not just to detect their features and defects, but also to mix different beans or create the right roast. A professional cupper can taste hundreds of coffee samples per day and still detect minute differences.
Coffee is subjected to numerous quality and flavor tests. Coffees are evaluated not just to detect their features and defects, but also to mix different beans or create the right roast. A professional cupper can taste hundreds of coffee samples per day and still detect minute differences.
8. Coffee Roasting
Roasting turns green coffee into the delicious brown beans we buy in our favorite stores or cafés. Most roasting machines operate at around 550 degrees Fahrenheit. To protect the beans from burning, they are continually moving throughout the process.
When they reach an internal temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, they start to brown and the caffeol, a fragrant oil held inside the beans, starts to emerge. This process, known as pyrolysis, is crucial to roasting because it generates the flavor and aroma of the coffee we consume.
Following roasting, the beans are quickly chilled by air or water. Roasting is typically done in importing countries since freshly roasted beans must reach consumers as soon as feasible.
The process of roasting coffee beans is crucial because it generates the flavor and aroma of the coffee we consume. Most roasting machines operate at around 550 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the beans from burning. Roasting is typically done in importing countries since beans must reach consumers as soon as feasible.
9. Coffee Grinding
The goal of a good grind is to extract the most taste out of a cup of coffee. The brewing process determines how coarse or fine the coffee is ground.
The appropriate grind grade is determined by the length of time the grounds will be in contact with water. In general, the finer the grind, the faster the coffee should be prepared. As a result, espresso machine coffee is significantly finer ground than drip coffee.
To learn how to brew coffee, consult our tutorial for tips and techniques on how to produce the perfect cup for any taste. Enjoy!