Coffee explained …… how it gets from bean to cup!
Lots of us start our day with a lovely cup of coffee, but not many of us know how this great drink gets to our cup! Before your espresso hits the spot, coffee needs to go through a number of key procedures to convert it from fresh coffee cherries to the hot beverage that we all love.
Here we explain the many manufacturing processes that coffee goes through on its journey to us.
The coffee tree is a small evergreen which has smooth ovate leaves with clusters of fragrant white flowers that turn into deep red fruits. The fruit starts off green then goes to yellow and eventually red when it is ready for harvesting. It usually contains two seeds – these are the coffee beans. This first step is a long process though as the coffee tree only starts to bear fruit three to four years after planting, but can then go on producing for 30 years!
There are a number of processes involved in converting coffee cherries to the coffee beans which are eventually sold to roasters. Depending on location and resources available, growers may be able carry out some of the processing themselves. Farmers, who don’t have the equipment, either pay a processor to do it or sell on to processors. Coffee is a very labour intensive crop and most is still harvested by hand.
After harvesting, the two coffee beans must be separated from the skin, pulp and paper-like ‘parchment’ that surround them. This can be done by either dry processing or wet processing. The dry method is the simplest and cheapest, whereas the wet processing method requires significant investment and more care which ultimately produces better quality coffee.
There are three types of roasting – medium, medium to dark and dark. Roasting is a precise skill and the roasting process produces the aromatic oils that gives coffee its unique flavour and aroma. Generally, the longer the roasting takes, the darker and stronger the coffee is.
Once roasted, the coffee beans need to be ground. Once the coffee beans are ground all the flavoursome oils will be exposed to the air and the flavour will be lost, so it’s important to never grind more than you immediately need for brewing.
Coffee fact: 79% of UK consumers drink coffee (either ground or instant).
We hope you now have a better understanding what happens before the coffee bean hits the cup!