The aroma, the taste, and the kick of energy that coffee yields have made this beverage one of the most popular and one most consumed beverages on the planet. According to industry statistics, the demand for coffee has been on the rise in the last few years. This is very telling of how much citizens of the world love coffee.
For instance, in the period 2015 to 2016, demand for coffee exceeded production. This is a significant consideration, keeping in mind that the same period saw 148 million bags of coffee (60kg bags) produced.
For many people, there is no getting around without coffee. For some, drinking a morning cup of coffee is religiously observed and as such, consuming coffee is part of the daily routine. For many others, consuming coffee is the perfect way of improving their alertness and concentration throughout their working day.
However, given that coffee is undeniably an important part of our lives these days, have you thought of how coffee is made? If you have, this read will interest you. We will explore the intricate details of coffee production, keeping mind that only the production practices yield the best quality coffee. As such, while there are numerous ways of producing coffee, we believe that only the best practices suffice. Therefore, we will focus purely on the best way to make coffee.
Planting And Caring For The Coffee Plants
What we know as coffee beans are actually seeds of the cherries produced by coffee plants. As such, to get coffee, the first thing in the long process of producing coffee is taking the seeds of the cherries and planting them. However, farmers are usually advised to use certified and high-grade coffee seeds to ensure that their plant and produce are of high- quality.
Part of caring for the coffee seedling includes amply watering the seedbed and shading. After the seedling has matured enough to plant in the coffee fields or farm, the seedlings are transferred. The trees usually take about 3 to 5 years before the trees produce the first cherries. It is important to note that coffee does not grow everywhere as it usually thrives in the tropics.
#2 Harvesting Coffee Cherries
Typically, coffee trees usually produce one harvest per year. However, in countries like Colombia, where is there are two harvest periods, the cherries are harvested twice in a year one major harvest and another minor harvest.
When it comes to harvesting, the process can be mechanized, especially in coffee regions that are fairly flat, or it can be a manual harvest process. In the case of manual harvesting, a lot of labor is required, pushing up the production costs.
For the best quality coffee, selective picking of the cherries is applied. This is where the pickers or the harvesting machines pick the ripe coffee cherries only, leaving the rest on the plant to ripen. However, there producers who use strip picking, where all the coffee cherries are harvested, their stage of ripening notwithstanding.
#3 Processing The Coffee Cherries
After harvesting, coffee is shipped to the processing plant, with the intention of prompt processing to negate spoilage. There are generally two ways of processing:
Dry processing method
This is the traditional processing method and it involves simply sun drying the cherries until the moisture content left is about 11%. While drying, the cherries are raked and turned every so often to ensure proper all-round drying. At night and when it is raining, the cherries are covered. This method is usually cost-effective and does not require a lot of water.
Wet processing method
This is the modern drying method. It involves bean pulping and fermentation. To begin with, the harvested coffee is passed through a pulping machine, where the skin along with the pulp is separated from the bean. Thereafter, the beans are passed through separation channels. Inside the channels, the heavier bean which are usually the ripe beans, sink while the lighter beans float, thus separating different sizes of coffee beans. The actual separation is done using rotating drums.
The different qualities of beans are fermented in water-filled tanks. Depending on various factors, including the quality of beans and the climate, the beans remain in the fermentation tanks for 12 to 48 hours. During this period, the layer of mucilage covering the beans will dissolve in the water. After fermentation, the beans are sun-dried or machine dried until the moisture content is 11%. The wet processing method has the advantage of negating damage to the beans during and thus is the preferred method.
#4 Milling The Beans
The milling processes is the usually done to improve the quality of the product. During this stage, the coffee cherries go through hulling, which remove the endocarp, which is known as parchment layer from the beans. Additionally, polishing (the removal of any remaining parchment layer) can be done. However, you should note that some milling processes, especially polishing, have a very little bearing on the quality of the product and thus can and are skipped.
Finally, grading and sorting processes are done by taking into account size and weight. At the end of this process, one is left with green coffee beans.
Tasting is done for batches of coffee that will be used for blending. Unless matters of consistency of products are of concern, this stage can be skipped.
#6 Roasting And Grinding The Beans
Roasting is the final and most crucial part of the processing coffee. It turns the green coffee beans to the typical coffee beans that we all know. The process is dependent on precise temperature setting and timing, which imparts the characteristics (such as the strength of flavor, aroma, and the caffeine content) of the coffee. Additionally, while roasting, the beans are split and any coating left behind is removed. After roasting, the grinding is done to make it easy to get the most of the coffee in terms of flavor and caffeine.
#7 Brewing Coffee
The final bit is preparing your cup of coffee.
Of course, there is the shipment of the coffee before you can make a cup of coffee. Typically, the coffee is exported right after milling in sisal bags of 60 kilograms. However, in some specialty coffee, it is shipped after grinding and final packaging. This is the case for gold coffee, which tends to among the highest quality coffee on the market.
Thanks for reading our article on how coffee is made. We are FoamAroma, your source for coffee cup lids.