A Coffee Beans Journey From The Subtropics To Your Mug

Have we ever given any thought to the tiny bean that reaches your brew every morning?

The whole world wakes up to a soothing cup of coffee every day. However, a coffee bean has to travel a long way before it reaches your nearest supermarket. A seed found inside a cherry undergoes a long process before it gets ready to be brewed.

Now, let us take a look at the processes from planting to purchasing that makes a coffee bean look the way it is.

coffee beans

  • The Coffee Plant and the Fruit.

The coffee tree could be found mainly growing in the subtropics of Africa, Central and South America, and South-east Asia. The coffee tree is a bush that attains a height around 10ft. The tree starts bearing fruit after a period of three to four years and has a lifespan of 100 years.

The coffee bean resembles a bright crimson cranberry when it becomes ripe. Commercial growers usually prune the bush to shorten them to a height of 8ft. In order to maintain the productivity, the shrubs are usually pruned after a period of 10 years each.

coffee plant

  • Harvesting the Fruit.

The coffee fruit is harvested when it turns bright red. Mostly, coffee fruits are hand plucked. However, in Brazil machinery are used due to the vast size of the plantation. The way a coffee bean is plucked even determines its quality. Arabica beans are hand-picked by harvesters who pass through the plantation over and over again only picking the perfectly ripe cherries.

Another method is called Strip picking where the berries are harvested in a go, and later the ripe cherries are separated from the unripe ones.

  • Processing the Harvested Cherries.

Soon after harvesting the coffee cherries, they are processed. And similar to harvesting, processing can also be done through various methods. When done in the traditional way, the cherries would be first laid out on a mat to dry them up under the sun. They would be covered up during the night and regularly raked to prevent any damage. It takes four weeks’ time for the water content of the cherries to reduce up to around 11 percent. Once dried, they are up for the next stage of processing.

A modern alternative to this method would be wet processing. In this case, the cherries are fully washed and the beans are removed from the cherry through a process called fermentation or mechanical scrubbing, before drying them up under the sun. Arid countries that produce coffee don’t make use of this process as it requires a vast amount of water.

Whereas, the semi-dry processing is a combination of both the traditional and modern procedures. The cherries are semi-washed or wet hulled before they move further on to the next process.

The methods in which the coffee cherries are processed completely depends upon the region where it is produced and the resources that are available in that region.

  • Mechanical Hulling.

Even after all the processing, the coffee bean would still be enveloped in a thin husk which ought to be removed before exporting it to different parts of the world. In order to remove the husk, the coffee beans are then taken to a mill where it undergoes a process named mechanical hulling.

After the husk is removed, the coffee beans are further categorized based on their grade or quality. Several mechanical processes are equipped in order to achieve this including measurement of size and weight.

The techniques either involve passing the coffee beans over a screen with holes of various sizes or using air currents to separate the heavier beans from the lighter ones. All these techniques ensure quality control as any imperfect bean is removed at this point.

  • Exporting and Tasting.

coffee harvesting

Coffee beans are kept unroasted and green when they are shipped around the world. They are packed in large sacks or plastic lined shipping containers.

Trade buyers usually taste the coffee before they buy it. They visit the coffee estates along with their professional coffee taster who is also known as a cupper. The cupper is similar to the professional wine tasters that we have always heard of.  The cuppers are talented professionals who could taste 100 different varieties of coffee a day and still distinguish between the characteristics and flaws of each coffee.

  • Roasting

Roasting transforms the green unroasted beans to the dark coloured pearls that we love. The technical term that is used for roasting is pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is something that we see in our kitchen daily while grilling meat or caramelizing onions.

The beans are roasted at a standard temperature of 280C and are kept moving to prevent them from burning. As the beans internal temperature reaches 200C, caffeol – the natural and fragrant oil is drawn out that provides the acidity, aroma and the other main characteristics of the beans. The beans are then immediately cooled down and packed for sale.

  • Right into Your Mug.

After the roasting, time is of the essence when the aroma and flavour is concerned. Coffee beans taste the best right after roasting. You could try having a cup of coffee from an artisan roasting house to taste the difference.

  • Coffee Makers.

coffee makers

A coffee maker would be the first thing that you turn up to in the kitchen after a good night’s sleep. That why buying a coffee machine should be on the top of the list when you plan to set up your kitchen. A mere cup of coffee could turn you into an energetic person or soothe you when stress runs down your veins.

There are certain reasons why you should consider buying a coffee maker. However, the first point would be that you will never have to run to a cafeteria to grab your coffee the next time you feel stressed out.

Furthermore, a coffee maker in your office will help your employees work faster without stress. They have a coffee maker at a hands distance, and every time they feel stressed out all they will have to do would be grab a cup of coffee.