Well, let us take you on a humbling journey and tell a tale of how Cocobrew coffee beans make their way to your cup. So sit back, relax to a pleasant cup of Cocobrew specialty coffee, and enjoy reading this narrative of how coffee beans are produced.
From Nurseries with Love
Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee tree. These seeds are planted in prepared nurseries. The soil of these nurseries is constantly moistened and the nurseries themselves are shaded away from direct sunlight. These coffee seeds are watered frequently.
Once the coffee crop starts to sprout and develop good roots, they are transplanted to much larger coffee fields. The transplant of these coffee plants ideally takes place during the rainy season when the ground is wet and moist.
Coffee Cherry Picking
It normally takes between three and four years for a coffee tree to mature and start to bear fruit, called cherries. The fruit produced by coffee trees, when ripe, appears blood-red in color.
Harvesting of coffee cherries typically occurs just once per year. However, there are instances where a primary crop may be harvested at one point in the year while later on in the same year, a secondary crop may also be harvested.
There are, typically, two methods used in harvesting coffee cherries. The first is by hand, while the second is through the use of specific machinery. Manual picking of coffee can be an expensive practice as it involves the employment of dozens of workers that pick these coffee cherries, one by one, from the branches of the coffee tree.
The topography of the coffee fields also plays a huge role in the type of picking method that is adopted. For example in some parts of Guatemala, coffee trees are planted on the side of volcanos, making hand-picking the only viable option.
The coffee cherries may be stripped off the branches in a harvesting process known as Strip Pick or the coffees cherries may be picked by hand in a coffee cherry harvesting process known as a Selective Pick. The Selective Pick is ideal for picking Arabica coffee beans.
Once the harvest is concluded, the fresh coffee cherries are immediately dried. This is one of the fundamental processes involved in preparing the cherries for export.
Drying of coffee cherries can be done the good old-fashioned way through direct sunlight. The cherries are laid out on slabs during the day and covered at night to prevent the accumulation of mildew. The cherries are also covered in the event of rainfall. The idea is to keep the harvested coffee fruit as dry as possible. The ideal level of moisture content in the cherries should be (+/-) 11%.
The dry method, or naturally dried method, as this traditional processing is called, helps to prevent the cherries from spoiling and rotting away.
Another method adopted in the drying of the coffee cherries is referred to as the wet method or washed. This is where the entire pulp of the coffee cherries are removed once they are harvested. Then the coffee bean is left to dry without the pulp in it.
The Milling and Export Process
Dried coffee beans need to be sorted out and graded before they are made ready to be exported. The milling process involves the use of hulling machines which are capable of stripping the parchment skin or endocarp off the coffee beans that were dried through the wet method.
On the other hand, the machine will strip the husk which consists of the endocarp, mesocarp, and exocarp from the coffee cherries that were dried using the traditional method of sun drying.
With the coffee beans stripped by the hulling machine, the next step in processing involves polishing. This is not a compulsory step, but many people believe that polished coffee beans are of a more superior quality to unpolished coffee beans.
Polishing involves the removal of the silvery skin on the coffee bean after the hulling machine has done its bit. The coffee beans are then checked for any flaws in their color, weight, and size.
Those coffee beans that are flawed or defective are separated from the others. The best quality coffee beans which are now called green coffee are then packed up in sisal bags and placed on-board shipping vessels for export.
Samples of the exported coffee would eventually be taken to a cupping facility. Cupping is a process where samples of the exported green coffee beans are roasted, ground, and then tasted by a cupper. Here at CBRoasters, we perform our cuppings at our HQ on Bedford Row in Temple Bar, Dublin.
Before Cocobrew coffee gets to your cup, it has to pass quality control measures. A cupper is a specialist taster with a penchant for tasting coffee and affirming its high quality and unique tasting notes.
The cupper will carry out visual inspection of the coffee beans, make use of a laboratory roaster to roast the beans, then grind the beans before infusing them in a temperature regulated and controlled boiling water.
The cupper will also sample the aroma of the beverage when it has been infused in hot water by smelling it and taking notes. The coffee is then allowed to sit for some minutes before the crusts of the beans are broken by being pressed against the sides and brim of the cup. The cupper then noses the brew before proceeding to taste it.
Tasting is methodically done by the cupper. A spoonful of coffee is first slurped-up followed by a rapid inhalation to have a taste of the coffee. The coffee is also placed on the tip of the cupper's tongue and spat out.
The job of the cupper is to sample as many cups of coffee from the samples of the different batches provided, all in an attempt to evaluate their quality in terms of aroma, flavor, and taste.
Green Coffee Roasting
Roasting is what gives the coffee bean its nice brown color and rich aroma that all coffee enthusiasts know and love.
The roasting equipment will roast the green coffee beans to a temperature of approximately 287.8 degrees celsius. When the internal temperature of the beans reaches approximately 204.4 degrees celsius, the color of the coffee beans will change to brown.
Also, the beans will secrete its fragrant oil called caffeol in a process known as pyrolysis which brings out the aroma and flavor of the coffee beverage we all enjoy. Roasted coffee beans are cooled off immediately after roasting using water or air.
After roasting and cooling the coffee beans, they are ground. This is done to ensure that consumers can derive most of the uniquely tasting flavor and aroma of the coffee.
It is the brewing method that ultimately decides how fine or coarse the ground beans are. Finely ground coffee beans tend to dissolve more quickly in hot water than coarsely ground coffee beans.
So, the next time that you want to brew an espresso in your espresso machine, know that fine grounds are supremely ideal.
As you sit down to a cup of freshly made specialty coffee, you should spare a thought to those involved in the extensive process of planting, harvesting, drying, milling, roasting and grinding of coffee beans.
Think of all the processes your cup of coffee had to pass through before landing in your cup.
Gently take a whiff of the aroma of the coffee as you show your appreciation of how the coffee beans were produced. Then slowly sip your coffee allowing the flavor to sit on your tongue for a brief moment before you swallow.
Don't forget that you can order Cocobrew coffee direct to your cafe, business or home via www.CBRoasters.com