Ever wondered how coffee beans make the journey from the coffee plant to your cup? Here we take a look at the different stages and processes involved in creating your favourite hot drink.
How it all begins
Did you know that coffee beans aren’t actually beans at all? They’re seeds, which are found inside the fruit of the coffee tree.
When planted, these seeds grow into new coffee trees, creating a sustainable resource. The rest are cultivated and dried so they can be used to make the delicious drink we all know as coffee.
Once a coffee seed has been planted, it usually takes three or four years before it bears fruit. The fruit, known as coffee cherries, turn a deep red when they’re ripe enough to harvest.
The drying process
Once the coffee cherries are ripe, they have to picked and processed as quickly as possible to ensure they are in the best condition. There are two methods of processing the cherries:
• The Dry Method. The cherries are simply placed on a large surface to dry naturally in the sun.
• The Wet Method. The pulp is removed from each coffee cherry when harvested, so the seeds are dried in nothing but the skin of the fruit.
Excess moisture is then removed either by placing the beans on drying tables and turning them at regular intervals, or machine-drying them in tumblers.
Which method is used depends on the available resources in the local area, but both are equally effective.
Milling and preparing for export
The coffee beans are then hulled, which removes either the outer skin or the entire dried husk, depending on which drying method has been used. Some producers also choose to polish the beans to remove any traces of skin which have been left behind, although this isn’t strictly necessary.
Following this, the beans are graded and sorted by size and weight. At this stage, any defective or damaged beans are removed, either by hand or machinery, or sometimes both. The remaining high-quality beans are then ready to be exported.
On their way to you
The beans are shipped to their destinations, where they’re tested for quality by an expert known as a “cupper”. The cupper first approves the visual appearance of the beans, then roasts and grinds them in a temperature-controlled laboratory. The finished coffee is then evaluated for aroma and flavour.
Once approved, the rest of the beans can be roasted. This is an essential process as it produces the coffee’s aroma and taste. The beans are then cooled, sometimes in water but preferably in the open air. This is the final process before they’re ready for sale.
From here, the beans simply need to be ground, whether you purchase the whole beans or the pre-ground variety. There are different ways of grinding beans which produce different results – coffee for espresso machines, for example, is ground much more finely than for filter machines, producing a richer, more intense flavour.
Your coffee has been on a long journey and experienced many different processes to reach you! How you enjoy it at the end of its journey is up to you.
Enjoy the highest quality coffee every day
If you’d like to experience the rich taste of espresso every day in your workplace, please get in touch – we’ll be happy to find the right solution for your business.