Coffee is one of the most beloved beverages worldwide, offering a myriad of flavours. To bring these flavours to the table, each coffee bean must undergo a lengthy coffee journey from farm to cup. Here’s how it happens:
Step 1: Seed Selection and Planting
The coffee production process commences with the selection and planting of coffee seeds. Coffee beans are essentially seeds that are harvested and subsequently roasted to become coffee beans. Farmers select various qualities of coffee seeds for planting. These seeds are sown in large shaded beds to grow into young seedlings. Any unprocessed seeds are employed for cultivating coffee plants.
Step 2: Nurturing and Caring for Young Coffee Seedlings
The young seedlings are left to sprout, shielded from the sun until they are ready to develop into bushes and bear fruits. These young seeds are individually potted with soil, regularly watered, and shielded from the sun. This helps the soil remain moist, allowing the roots to establish themselves in the pots.
Step 3: Transplanting Coffee Seedlings into Plants
Once these seedlings have established strong roots in the pots and gained sufficient strength, they are relocated to their permanent growing locations. These plants are consistently watered to maintain the moisture of the soil and encourage root growth over a wider area. Depending on the coffee’s quality, it can take up to 3 or 4 years for these seeds to grow into plants and bear fruit.
Step 4: Harvesting Ripe Coffee Cherries
After proper growth over 3 to 4 years, these plants produce fruits, known as cherries. The colour of these cherries varies depending on their ripeness. They ripen more quickly in high temperatures and lower altitudes. The cherries are meticulously harvested through two methods:
- Strip picking, where cherries are cut off.
- Selective picking, where only red cherries are hand-picked, and green ones are left to ripen.
Step 5: Processing Coffee Cherries
The cherries are quickly processed after harvesting to prevent spoilage. There are two methods for coffee processing: the dry method and the wet method.
Step 6: Drying the Coffee Beans
In the natural or unwashed processing method, the cherries are left to dry naturally. They are spread out in a large area for 15 to 20 days, with air circulation between the cherries. During the night, the berries are covered to protect them from moisture absorption. During the day, they are continually turned and raked to prevent fermentation.
Step 7: Milling and Hulling the Coffee Beans
The subsequent steps involve hulling, which includes removing the dried husk, including the endocarp, exocarp, and mesocarp. After hulling, optional polishing can be done to eliminate any silver skin that may occur during hulling. Polished beans generally reach a higher quality level.
Step 8: Sorting and Grading the Coffee Beans
Polished and unpolished coffee beans are sorted and graded according to size and weight. Polished beans go through quality checks, where any beans with inconsistent colour or flaws are set aside. The coffee beans are also sorted with air jets, separating lighter beans from heavier ones. The beans are graded on a scale of 1 to 10, and the raw coffee beans are sorted into low and high-quality categories.
Step 9: Roasting the Coffee Beans
Green or unroasted coffee beans are then sent for roasting. These beans, which turn yellow when dried, are roasted at various temperatures, typically around 550°F. The beans are roasted until they attain a dark brown colour and are immediately transferred to cool down in water after roasting.
Step 10: Brewing and Enjoying the Perfect Cup
The coffee beans are now ready for brewing. You can employ various techniques to brew your cup of coffee and enjoy it to the fullest.
From seed planting to coffee brewing, coffee beans pass through various stages to become the finest beans that delight our senses. Every stage is crucial to ensure that you experience the best coffee in your cup.
Now is the perfect moment to savor a freshly brewed cup of coffee.