You probably wouldn’t imagine this plant is where your coffee comes from…
A cup of delicious coffee is just what you need to get your day started, but have you ever thought about how the coffee is transformed from a humble bean picked at a coffee plantation to the tasty steaming brew in front of you? Have you ever asked, “how is coffee made?” There are a lot of steps in the coffee process and each one will have an impact on the flavour and quality of the finished cup. Here are the steps in that process:
How is Coffee Made?
The Coffee Cherry
As the coffee plant grows it will produce a red fruit, which is known as the ‘coffee cherry’. When this fruit is picked and split open it will reveal two beans that are white in colour and waxy. The beans are side by side and they are surrounded by pulp. These plants grow best in tropical regions, as they require abundant rain and plenty of heat. For example, the best places to grow coffee are in Colombia, Costa Ria, Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Kenya and Togo.
The Harvest Stage
The coffee cherries will be picked by hand, so that the very best ones can be selected. However, hand-picking is only practical on small plantations and on the larger plantations the coffee is picked by a machine. However, mechanical picking produces poorer quality coffee than hand-picking because some of the cherries that get selected are not ripe yet and have an acidic taste.
Processing the Coffee Cherries
The next step is to transform the coffee cherries into beans, which involves removing the various outer layers. This will produce ‘green coffee’ – the coffee beans before they’re roasted. There are two ways to do this – the coffee cherries can be dried in the sun (dry process) or soaked in water (wet process).
During the wet process they are separated from the pulp using a specially designed machine and then moved into fermentation tanks in order to remove the mucilage. After the skins are removed the beans must be graded and sorted on a conveyor belt and someone must remove the defective beans by hand. The green coffee is then packaged and shipped all over the world.
The Roasting Process
Of course, the next step is to roast the beans so that they will turn into the delicious bitter aromatic brown coffee beans that we love. Roasting is a complex process and the beans must be heated at the right temperature for the correct amount of time – any more or they will become burnt.
There are machines that are programmed to do this, but the most experienced coffee roasters will use their sense of smell and their ample experience to tell when the beans are done.
The final step is to grind the beans, either fine or coarse, so that they can be used to make coffee. Finally, the hot and delicious drink is in your cup ready to enjoy as you start your day!