Every morning, we crawl out of our beds and head to our kitchens as though we are in autopilot with one mission: coffee. Although it is a complex agricultural product, coffee has been whittled down to a mass-produced commodity. Most people know very little about the process of making coffee from bean to cup, and CoffeeCow hopes to change that. We pride ourselves on providing useful information to our customers, so they can brew at home with confidence and peace of mind knowing how their coffee is sourced. Keep reading to learn more!
Growing the Coffea Plant
The process of making coffee from bean to cup begins with the landscape. Coffee comes from the Coffea shrub or tree, which usually grows no more than a thousand miles from the equator. Arabica and Robusta beans are two of the most prevalent kinds of coffee available. Arabica plants thrive in volcanic soil, so they are predominantly found in the mountainous regions and highlands throughout Ethiopia. Unlike Arabicas, Robusta beans can grow in low altitudes and endure pest infestations.
Coffee plants start growing in nurseries for about a year. After being transported to local farms, these plants are planted 10 – 12 feet apart and nurtured for up to five years before they begin to sprout small green cherries with coffee seeds inside. As the cherries ripen, their color changes from green to yellow.
Harvesting Ripe Cherries
Global coffee production starts its journey at small farms throughout South America, Africa, and other tropical or subtropical climates. Coffee cherries are harvested either by hand or by mechanical equipment. When harvested by hand, cherries are often gathered into large baskets by farmers, their families, and their communities.
Depulping Cherries for Seeds
Within 24 hours of being harvested, coffee cherries must be depulped to reduce the risk of rotten flavor. Depulping is the process of extricating coffee seeds from the outer layer of cherry flesh. Most coffee producers hire skilled laborers to depulp by hand, but many farmers prefer centralized depulping stations.
Fermenting Coffee Beans
Fermenting coffee beans is thought to highlight the natural body and flavor of the beans. Depulped coffee beans are deposited into large tanks made from cement, plastic, or wood. Producers leave the coffee beans to ferment in the remaining mucilage left over from the depulping process, which can take anywhere from several hours to days.
Processing Coffee Beans
Once fermentation is complete, there are two popular methods of processing: dry processing and wet processing. Specialty coffees often undergo wet processing to halt the fermentation process before being dried. Dried beans are usually processed by the sun or mechanical equipment before being prepared for hulling. Hulling machinery removes the parchment layer from processed coffee beans. Producers can optionally polish any beans left with silver skin.
Which Beans Do They Keep?
Coffee beans are sorted to check for defects, because “bad” beans can affect the taste of an entire batch. Producers sort their coffee beans into colors by hand or conveyor belt, effectively removing defective beans from production.
Roasting Coffee Beans
Last but not least, the sorted green coffee beans are roasted at 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they reach an internal temperature of approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans begin to turn brown and their natural oils emerge.
Roasted coffee is available in whole bean form, but most consumers prefer coarsely or finely ground coffee. If you have any questions about the process of making coffee from bean to cup, please feel free to contact a member of our team via phone or online chat for additional information.