Have you ever wondered how long the journey of a coffee bean is before it arrives in your coffee cup?
Every cup of coffee–regardless of the flavor, brand, price, or place of origin–started from a humble coffee bean. Every cup of coffee you enjoy had taken a long journey before it fully became your favorite cup of joe.
To better appreciate every cup of coffee you consume daily, it’s nice to trace back the steps coffee beans have to go through before they reach your coffee cup. So, buckle up and get ready to take on this journey with us.
Step 1: Planting the Seedlings
Every coffee story starts with the seedlings of a coffee plant. Coffee seedlings are allowed to germinate in large beds of slightly acidic and penetrable soil under shaded nurseries, and watered frequently until they are ready to be permanently planted.
It often takes four to five years after planting for a newly planted coffee plant to flower and bear bright and deep red fruits (referred to as coffee cherries).
Step 2: Picking the Coffee Cherries
Picking coffee cherries can be done either by hand or by machine. Whether by hand or machine, the coffee cherries are either strip picked or selectively picked. By strip picking, all coffee cherries are stripped off, regardless if they are ripe or not. But, with selective picking, only the cherries at the peak of ripeness are harvested individually by hand.
Step 3: De-Husking, Drying, & Milling
Once the coffee cherries are picked, they are transported to the processing plant and processed immediately. The harvested coffee cherries need to be processed within 24 hours either by dry (natural) or wet (washed) method to prevent fruit spoiling.
Once the cherries are dried to reach a certain moisture level, they become the coffee bean we are most familiar with. The coffee beans then undergo a mechanical hulling process to remove the remaining husks from the beans. During the milling process, the coffee beans are polished, and graded and sorted according to their size and weight.
Step 4: Exporting the Coffee Beans
Milled coffee beans, popularly known as unroasted or green coffee, are packed in jute sacks and bulk-shipped to different parts of the world for cupping.
Step 5: Testing for Taste and Quality
A professional coffee taster, referred to as a cupper, noses and tastes different samples from different varieties of coffee beans to analyze and differentiate the coffee beans’ characteristics and flaws. The purpose of the cupping process is to determine which coffee beans to blend and find the most proper way to roast a certain coffee bean.
Step 6: Roasting the Coffee Beans
It is through the roasting process that the milled or green coffee beans transform into aromatic brown coffee beans. Roasting the coffee beans to a certain temperature allows the caffeol inside the beans to come out and produce the flavor and aroma of coffee. After roasting, the coffee beans are immediately cooled and packed for sale
Step 7: Grinding and Brewing
Roasted coffee beans are ground up to get the most flavor out of them. Depending on the use and brewing method, the roasted coffee beans are ground up to different grind sizes: fine, medium-fine, medium-ground, medium-coarse, and coarse. Then, the coffee grounds are brewed depending on the drinker’s preferred brewing method.
And, that’s the journey a coffee bean undergoes to give you your caffeine fix. After reading this article, we hope you appreciate your cup of joe better!