Behind the Beans

How is your coffee made?

By Emily Braybrooke

Interested in where your coffee comes from?
We break down the stages of coffee making so you can understand the process that produces your delicious drinks.

  1. While money may not grow on trees, the next best thing does: coffee!
    Coffee starts its life as a small green fruit, growing on a tree, before turning yellow and eventually into a red cherry. Once red, the cherry is ready to be harvested and inside is where you will find two seeds, which are the coffee beans.
    Typically, it takes a newly planted tree three to four years to bear fruit. These cherries are usually picked by hand and the processing has to begin as soon as possible to stop the fruit from spoiling.

    Photo Credit: Tony Brooks Taken from Flickr
  2. There are two different methods for processing the cherry.

    The Dry Method
    This is where the cherries are laid out to dry in the sun and raked and turned throughout the day and covered during the night or if it rains to prevent any moisture getting to them. The cherries can be left to dry out for several weeks, depending on the weather.Drying out the cherries creates a hard outer shell which is removed during the hulling process, leaving the coffee bean.

    The Wet Method
    This process involves removing the pulp from the coffee cherry immediately after harvesting in a pulping machine. Water is also used to separate the immature beans from the mature ones, as the ripe beans sink to the bottom.
    The ripe beans are then put into water-filled fermentation tanks and left for between 12 and 48 hours to remove the slippery outer skin. The beans are then washed a final time and are ready to dry, either in the sun or via a mechanical drying process.
    Once dried, the coffee still has its parchment style skin so is put through a hulling machine to remove this.

    Whether it is through the dry or the wet process, the coffee beans are now usually exported to their final destination where the next stage is to be roasted.

    Photo Credit: Michael Allen Smith Taken from Flickr
  3. Before roasting, the coffee beans are green in colour.
    It is the roasting process that turns them brown and gives them their flavor and aroma.
    The longer the beans are left to roast, the stronger the coffee.
    The beans are roasted in a machine that is typically kept at around 287 degrees Celsius and the beans are constantly moving throughout this process to prevent burning.
    After roasting, the beans are immediately cooled either by air or water.

    Photo Credit: Olle Svensson Taken from Flickr.
  4. The coffee beans are now ready to be ground for use, which is a simple process of putting the beans through a grinder.
    Coffee shops will have a grinder alongside their machine, or you can now buy pre-ground beans from supermarkets.

Just remember, once the beans are ground, they won’t stay fresh for long so use them quick or keep them in a sealed container.



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