Long, long ago, in a faraway country, a magical bean was born in a coffee plant that blessed us with coffee. Ever had those moments when you walk into a room and forget why you were there? But what about after a cup of coffee? You’re so indulged in the magical pleasure of coffee, you still can’t remember. But at least there’s coffee. And yet, here we are to learn about the coffee production process.
The only real-life story with a happy ending is the coffee story. A coffee lover never stops wondering where this magic bean comes from. Want to know how a stone fruit turns into this delicious drink? Read on to know the tale of the coffee’s journey from crop to cup.
Stages In Coffee Production Process
The process of coffee production from seed to cup is long. Hundreds of people’s hard work and processing stages make the base for your favorite cappuccino. Some countries even grow a secondary crop to keep up with the additional coffee demand worldwide. Each stage is important to end up with a perfect coffee experience. Let’s read about the steps then, shall we?
Everything Starts with A Coffee Bush
A coffee bush comes from a planted coffee seed. It is laid in well-fertilized soil. It takes 3-4 months to form a shoot of the plant. The natural coffee genus consists of hundreds of different trees and shrubs. These trees and bushes flourish best at high altitudes in wild tropical and sunny climates.
A coffee plant grows out of the soil, with the coffee bean at the top. Different plants have different characteristics. Some grow up to ten meters in height and form trees, while others are small, like shrubs. The bean size also varies depending on the type of tree.
After 3-4 years, the bushes start blooming. Thanks to self-pollination, the coffee gardens are filled with trees full of flowers. The coffee trees can produce cherries for about 20 years. The flowers both smell and look lovely, like jasmine. The pleasant aroma makes you want to stay in that environment.
About nine months after blooming, the flowers transform into coffee berries. Depending on the variety of the berries, the shrubs bloom throughout the year at different times. The harvest season starts when the green cherry grown on the trees has ripened.
Coffee harvesting is the process of picking the bright red cherries, which indicates they are ripe for picking. Each coffee cherry fruit produces two coffee beans and grows pair by pair, close together inside the cherry.
In coffee plantations, many of the coffee cherries are plucked when they are not fully ripened. Coffee pickers need good training to understand the link between ripe berries and good coffee. A skilled coffee farmer hand-picks the coffee crop when the color and ripeness are just the right amounts. The process is both time-consuming and labor intensive.
Curious to know which countries produces coffee? Read out our coffee producing countries article.
After plucking, it’s time to process the cherries. Processing removes the outer skin for extracting green coffee beans. For this, there are different processing methods.
The dry process uses natural sunlight to dry the red coffee cherries. The cherries with peel and flesh are left out in the sun for at least seven days. The natural sweetness of the cherry pulp dries gradually with the beans inside the cherries, giving the coffee a sweeter flavor afterward.
When the fruit dries, it shrinks, and the peel turns brown. Inside the fruit, you can hear the beans rattling. Finally, the beans are polished so that the peels protecting the beans are easily removed.
The dry process method was more common in countries with water shortages. Today, the dry method is gaining worldwide popularity in other coffee-producing countries. Many coffee lovers appreciate the flavors of natural dried coffee.
The wet process works using depulping machines within a day after picking the coffee. The beans are placed in water-filled basins, where the skin and pulp are washed from the fruit by a machine. The protective layer surrounding the coffee beans is broken down by using natural enzymes. It also ferments the natural sugar layer.
The coffee is washed once again with clean water. Coffee processed with the wet method gives a clean taste profile with an elegant character. It may have slightly more acidity.
Another variant of the wet process directly removes the mucilage layer by mechanical means. The wet-processed beans must be dried, leaving out 11% of the moisture content. Drying is done either in sunlight for 1-2 weeks or by using a machine.
Honey process is a combination of both dry and wet processing methods. Here, a de-pulping machine partially removes the peel and pulp. The beans with their surrounding pulp layer are then placed on the drying table. The pulp level to be saved depends on the desired cup.
The less pulp there is, the clearer the acid. The coffee becomes full-bodied and caramelized sugar. Thus, the method is called the Honey method. This way, the beans end up with both clean and sweet tastes.
After drying, the processed coffee rests in silos regardless of the processing method. Resting makes the beans improve stability and consistency in the final cup. The beans get time to distribute their moisture content evenly.
Honey processing has become a very popular method in Central American countries such as El Salvador and Costa Rica. This process has evolved so much over the years that coffee produced by the honey method has several classes such as
- Red Honey Coffees
- Yellow Honey Coffees
- Black Honey Coffees
In the hulling process, the dry parchment layer that surrounds the wet-processed beans gets removed. A hulling machine also removes the dry skin from the dry-processed beans.
After that, the beans may get polished to remove the second layer of silver skin. Beans after hulling result in superior quality and refined flavor to the unpolished beans.
High-quality coffee requires a rigorous sorting process. Sorting removes unripe and defective beans through a manual and time-consuming process. But, of course, a machine can never sort like trained hands. A popular method is screen shorting, where the coffee beans go through a series of sleeves that have different hole sizes drilled in them. The sleeves separate the beans of each size.
The coffees’ last footprint in their country of origin is left before shipment. Raw coffee getting packaged in jute bags is a more traditional practice. But in recent years, the new packaging has emerged for better shipments, including vacuum packages and grain pro bag packages. The grain pro is simply a jute bag with a plastic inner bag.
The big shipping containers get filled with coffee bean bags and shipped. The coffee travels across oceans or to a coffee warehouse and roastery.
Samples of coffee packaging make a move from various warehouses to sophisticated laboratories. There, world-class coffee experts use a laboratory roaster to taste the coffee and classify them into different qualities. Then the coffees are stored in bags.
If you want to know about more types of coffee, read our types of coffee beans article.
Each lot of coffee comes with its own story and character. Each of them deserves a unique coffee roasting. Roasting is a process that gives coffee the characteristic flavors and aromas that we love. It makes a coffee bean colored brown and more water-soluble.
Slow roast is an interesting roasting method that brings out all the flavor nuances found in the coffee beans. A coffee lover can notice and enjoy them in the cup.
Some coffee drinkers roast coffee in a small batch by hand. In other roasteries, the roasting takes place in a coffee roaster resembling a large oven. It requires adjusting temperatures and times, which decides the strength and character of the final cups of coffee.
The beans can be exposed to temperatures of up to 550 oF. Lightly roasted beans usually stay in the roasting machine for 5-8 minutes. The medium-roasted version stays for up to 14 minutes, while the dark roast stays even longer than that.
In some cases, a mixture of beans with different properties is roasted together. Mild flavored beans can be the base which is supplemented with fuller and aromatic beans.
Roasting is an art that requires trained and skilled coffee roastmasters. Tweaking a little here and there may destroy the whole batch and result in low-grade coffee.
The coffee bean transforms from a small green bean to a fragrant and larger brown bean when the roasting ends. If the beans are not sold at this state, they are sent for grinding. Ground beans are sold in small packages in grocery stores, or in a coffee shop near you.
So you got your hands on a good bag of coffee beans? It’s grinding time! Grinding brings out the best of the flavors from the coffee beans. If you want to get the best out of your homemade coffee, your best choice is to brew coffee from ground beans.
Your brewing method determines the finesse of your ground. In general, shorter brewing time requires more finely ground coffee because fine grounds have a greater surface area that allows greater extraction within a short time.
For example, Espresso needs ground coffee very finely. Drip-brewing coffee has a longer brewing time. Consequently, it requires coffee beans with coarser grinding.
Your coffee ground is ready to get brewed and make you a perfect cup! Keep in mind that you can easily extract fine grounds. Whereas coarsely ground coffee can become watery and thin. Choose your brewing technique accordingly.
Had fun Nomies? It’s obvious that you might want to have a cup of coffee.
Here, read out our how to do coffee cupping at home article, and your cup of happiness.
There are different methods of brewing, drip-brew, French press, Espresso machine, cold-brew, pour-over, and whatnot. You might be familiar with all of the methods, or a few of them at least. But that discussion is for another day. Till then, enjoy your cup of java. Can you see your empty cup? Congratulations! You have successfully installed java in your system.
Brazil has been producing the highest coffee in the world for more than 150 years.
Coffee processing is a step in the coffee production process that helps remove the peel and pulp from the coffee cherry to extract the beans.
Yes, each processing method adds unique tastes to the final cups.
Coffee beans come from coffee trees of the genus Coffea
Yes. Coffee plants are easy to grow if the environment is optimal.
Farm produces the coffee bean. The mill is where said bean is processed and packed in bags per customer-specific needs.
When organic matter is ripped from the bean within days, it is known as washed coffee. It’s popular for the authenticity of the beans themselves.
Coffee processing simply means the complete process of coffee beans to make them consumable for the masses.