Many of us enjoy coffee on a daily basis, but a lot of us don’t know how these coffee beans are made and where they come from. For the curious minds out there, in this article, we will explore how coffee beans are made.
Let’s get started.
Coffee trees (commonly referred to as Coffea Plants) are grown around the world. More specifically, in countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia. These countries are the world’s leading producers of coffee.
There are 4 different types of coffee trees, but the 2 most popular species are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica makes up for 70% of the world’s coffee and is considered to be more popular than Robusta which makes up 30% of the world’s coffee.
There are 2 lesser-known coffee tree species called Liberica and Excelsa. These species are very rare and were first harvested in the Philippines.
The fruit that these coffee trees produce is called a coffee cherry or cascara. These cherries usually contain two seeds which we normally call coffee beans. Coffee beans aren’t really beans. They are actually seeds and are only called beans because of their bean-like appearance. Some cherries will only contain one bean, and these beans are called Peaberries.
Harvesting Coffee Fruit
When the coffee fruit turns red or pink, it is ready to be harvested. Once the fruit is ripe, it is picked and then processed using either the wet or dry process.
The Wet Process
Countries in Central America and Africa make use of the wet process, which is considered to be a more expensive process. The seeds of the fruit are fermented after the flesh is separated from the seeds. They will then be soaked in water for up to 2 days. This process softens the mucilage, which is a sticky residue attached to the seeds, and then washed off with water.
The Dry Process
The dry process is the cheaper of the 2 processes and is mostly used for lower-quality beans in countries where water resources are limited. The cherries are laid out in the sun on concrete for 2 to 3 weeks. They are covered during the night to prevent them from getting wet. The fruit is turned during the day to make sure that even drying takes place.
The Hulling Process
During the optional hulling process, the skin is removed from the coffee bean. This skin is known as pergamino. The hulling process is done with a machine called a “huller”, and the basic function of these machines is to abrade the parchment until it just crumbles away.
Roasting the Coffee Beans
At this point, the coffee beans are still green and the next process involves roasting the coffee beans. During the roasting process, the green coffee beans are exposed to temperatures as high as 550°F until they eventually dried and have developed a yellow colour. As the temperature continues to rise, the beans become double their original size and they also turn to a medium brown colour.
The beans are now lightly or medium roasted. The roasting process can continue during which the beans will obtain a dark roast.
At this point, the coffee beans are now the beans we use to brew our favourite type of coffee.
Hopefully the next time you enjoy your favourite morning brew, you can appreciate the intensive process involved in getting coffee beans from plant to the cup.