You may not know it yet but there’s more to your cup of coffee than you might know.
Whether it’s brewed or the instant kind, coffee is a breakfast staple that most people cannot go without. However, not all people understand that enjoying their cup of coffee employs a complex process. It’s more than just growing the coffee plant, harvesting the beans and – voila! – you have your cup of coffee to enjoy.
Labor Intensive Process
Each step in the coffee making process is labor intensive. It requires proper education and careful attention to detail.
Read more and find out how does a coffee bean gets into your cup in the morning.
The growing process of a coffee plant starts with the same coffee bean that you brew after it was harvested. The coffee plant can only grow on subtropical or tropical climates and will only produce coffee beans after 4-5 years. They are also usually pruned to grow half of its size from 20 feet to become just 8-10 feet tall for easier harvesting.
The scent of the coffee flowers resembles that of a jasmine scent. As for its fruit, a young coffee bean starts as a small green cherry and will later on evolve to become yellow and deep red which is an indication of peak ripeness. Some varieties of coffee beans turn yellow or simply dark orange to show their ripeness. See here our complete overview of the coffee beans varieties.
Once the coffee beans reach their peak ripeness, they’re now ready for harvesting. In some countries, coffee beans are either handpicked or harvested using a harvesting machine but the actual harvesting process can be categorized into two ways: selectively picked or strip picked.
The selectively picked process usually employs the handpicked selection because only ripe coffee cherries are harvested. Usually, it takes pickers 8-10 days to harvest the right amount of coffee beans for production. Since this process is labor intensive and costly, it is a process used primarily for harvesting the finer coffee variety just like Arabica beans.
On the other hand, the strip picked process is far easier because all coffee cherries are simply stripped off the branch which can be done by hand or using a harvesting machine.
Once the coffee cherries are harvested, the beans should be separated from its outer layer of flesh within 24 hours. This process is called pulping and is done so as not to spoil the natural rich flavor of the coffee beans. It also prevents the quick spoilage of the coffee beans.
There are two ways to pulp coffee beans: the dry method which is the age-old method of depulping especially for countries with limited water resources. The harvested beans are simply spread and left put to dry in the sun. The wet method, on the other hand, removes the pulp from the coffee cherries using a machine by passing them through water channels.
Once the coffee cherries are pulped, they would be fermented to bring out the rich and natural flavor of the coffee beans. Most of the time, the beans are placed in large fermentation tanks filled with water. Once the fermentation process is complete; which usually takes from 4-72 hours depending on location, the beans are now ready for drying and will feel rough to the touch.
Unlike with pulping, the drying process require the coffee beans to be washed first through several wood channels using clean water before they can be prepared for drying. Once done, the beans will be sun-dried on floors or drying tables with an ideal 11% of moisture left for storage. To achieve this, the coffee beans would need constant turning and will be called parchment coffee once dried.
This process is done to sort through defective coffee beans. Usually, there are three ways how this can be done. One is hulling wherein a machine is used to remove the parchment layer of the coffee beans. Second is the grading and sorting wherein coffee beans are sorted by their weight, size, color, and other imperfections.
An optional method can also be done – polishing – wherein any silver skin left after the hulling process is removed. Depending on the company, this process is either done by hand, with the assistance of a conveyor, or just a machine.
Next in the process is roasting the coffee beans which borders between being a science and an art. This is because roasting enhances the best qualities found in coffee beans so you get to enjoy their rich taste and aroma to the fullest. It also turns the green milled beans to the rich coffee brown you know in TV commercials.
There are different levels of roasting: medium roast, full city roast, Vienna roast, and French roast to name a few. There are also times when coffee beans are roasted using two methods to come up with an array of unique flavor combinations.
Grinding and brewing
Last but not the least is the grinding and brewing process. This is the time when you try to get the most flavor of coffee beans in a cup and enjoy it.
… and wow!
Who knew that the process it takes to get yourself a cup of coffee in the morning is that complex? Perhaps right now, you’d enjoy the taste and aroma of those golden beans more than you did in the past.
Read more interesting articles about coffee, how to make the best coffee and reviews of espresso and coffee makers: www.brownscoffee.com