Are you curious about the process of making coffee in a coffee shop and even before it reaches your cup? How are coffee beans made precisely? It’s a fascinating process resulting in a delicious drink millions of people enjoy daily. Keep reading to learn more about how coffee is made and what goes into each step.
Coffee plants are grown in tropical climates around the world. Once the coffee plants have produced enough fruit (coffee cherries), the farmers handpick and then sort them. After that, the coffee cherries go through processing where they are dried, and the beans are removed from the fruit. The beans are then roasted to create different flavors, before being ground up and made into coffee.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the journey coffee beans take from the time they’re grown and harvested to the time they’re processed and ready to be enjoyed. You might be surprised at how much work goes into getting those beans from the plant to your mug!
Coffee is made from which plant? The coffee plant begins life as a delicate shrub before battling with the natural elements for a few years until it becomes a tree. Coffee seeds are planted during the rainy seasons to ensure the soil remains moist as the root gets firmly established. This is crucial for coffee tree growth, as coffee trees need a lot of water during their first few years.
Coffee trees can grow up to ten meters tall and produce enormous beans. It takes three years for the coffee tree to start producing fruit in commercial quantities; these fruit are also known as cherries. The first few seasons only produce a small number of cherries, which isn’t worth harvesting.
At some point during the dry season, the coffee cherry will turn green, then fade to yellow, before finally turning red. This color change depends on the country where the coffee cherry is growing. At lower altitudes and higher temperatures, coffee cherries will ripen faster. Coffee trees produce their best fruit between the ages of three and ten years. After the trees reach ten years of age the quality of the fruit starts to drop away.
How are coffee cherries harvested? You will find these coffee beans are predominantly picked by hand. Some of the larger farms use mechanical pickers to assist with the workload. Hand-picking the coffee beans is the best method because experienced coffee pickers know exactly what to look for in regard to the perfect bean. This includes appearance, smell, and texture.
Even though mechanical helpers pick the coffee cherries, the coffee cherries still undergo the same process of sorting. To be chosen, the cherries must meet size, ripeness, and density criteria. Only the ripest berries would make it to the next stage.
Wet and dry are the two main processing methods for coffee beans. Wet processing is when the fruit surrounding the bean is removed before it is dried, and dry processing is when the fruit is allowed to dry on the bean. Each method is explained below.
Wet Processing Method
Wet processing involves separating the coffee pulp from the cherry before drying by undergoing a bathing stage. This is an effective way to determine if any unripe fruit has made it through. If there are unripe ones, they will be floating. This method of coffee production involves using water to remove the coffee fruit and separate the beans.
Dry Processing Method
Drying is a more popular method for processing coffee in areas with limited rainfall. This is because the processing depends largely on the climate of the area in which it is produced. Dry processing results in coffee that has a sweeter taste because the coffee beans absorb less moisture from the air.
Honey Processing Method
There is also a hybrid process called the Honey Processing Method that combines elements of the wet process and the dry process. This hybrid processing method results in a cup of coffee with more body and sweetness than a cup of coffee produced using the dry process method.
Different filtering techniques can significantly impact the taste of coffee. For example, some coffee beans may be kept in a ventilated environment for 1-6 years to reduce acidity further. This process can change the flavor profile of the coffee, making it more smooth and less acidic.
The World’s Most Expensive Coffee
Some coffee beans in Indonesia go through a filtering process where the Asian Palm Civet eats them. The Civet then excretes the beans, which creates a coffee that is said to be more flavorful. The coffee beans eaten by the Civet are then collected from its droppings and sold as the most expensive coffee in the world, called Kopi Luwak.
Hulling And Polishing
The coffee shell, or husk, must be removed from the bean before it can be roasted. This process can be done by hand, using a machine, or as in the case explained above, by an animal called an Asian Palm Civet. The Civet eats the coffee berries and excretes the beans, which are then collected and washed.
The polishing process for coffee beans is a rare luxury. This process makes the coffee beans look fantastic, and who wouldn’t want to drink coffee when it looks that good?
Roasting is the key to unlocking coffee beans’ delicious flavors and aromas. The sugars in the beans caramelize during roasting, resulting in a richer, more full-bodied flavor.
Roasting coffee beans is all about timing, and there is a difference between using old beans and the freshest beans. You must use fresh beans when you want rich, deliciously smooth coffee. There are a number of boutique coffee roasters on the Gold Coast and each produces its own distinctly flavoured beans.
So, How Is Coffee Harvested And Processed?
Coffee beans are the seeds of coffee cherries. They are grown on coffee trees in regions around the world with tropical climates and plenty of rainfall. Once the coffee cherries mature, they are handpicked and the beans are extracted. The coffee beans are then cleaned and roasted. Roasting is a crucial step in developing the flavor of the coffee bean. After roasting, the beans are ground up and brewed to create coffee.
Now that we understand the background and process of coffee, we will be able to appreciate every cup we drink. We know how the beans are grown and harvested, and how they are roasted to create that perfect flavor. Whether you like your coffee black or with milk and sugar, the next time you take a sip, remember all of the steps that had to be taken to make that happen.
If you find yourself intrigued by the whole coffee story, check out the 2022 Australian Coffee Championships.