From Bean to Brew

A coffee bean begins its' life as a seed, when it's dried, roasted, and ground it's used to brew coffee, but if the seed is not processed it can be planted to grow a coffee tree. Planting of these seeds usually takes place during the wet season, so that the soil surrounding the young trees remains moist whilst the roots are still becoming fully established.


Depending on the variety of coffee, it will take around three to four years for the coffee trees to begin bearing fruit. Called the 'coffee cherry' as it turns into a bright red colour when the bean is ripe and ready to be harvested. The fruits can be picked in one of two ways; either strip picked, where it is all harvested at the one time either by hand or machine, or they can be selectively picked, only gathering the ripe fruits as and when they appear on the trees.


Once the coffee has been picked, processing of the beans must begin as quickly as possible to ensure there is no spillage. Depending on location of where the coffee trees are grown, they may be processed either using a dry or wet method. The dry method, usually used in countries where water resources are limited, the freshly picked beans are spread onto a huge surface to dry out naturally in the sun, being raked gradually throughout the day and covered at night. Depending on the weather, this process can take up to several weeks to completely dry out until the moisture content drops to 11%. The wet method involves extracting the pulp from the bean after harvesting and then dried with the skin left on. After this the beans are transferred to a water-filled fermentation tank where they will remain for 12-48 hours, after which they are ready for drying in large tumblers.


Before they are exported, the beans are sorted by size and weight, and also evaluated for colour flaws or other imperfections. Now milled, the beans are referred to as 'green coffee', which gets shipped across the world, with approximately seven million tons per year. Roasting the beans turns them from the green colour into the aromatic brown beans that we purchase from stores, which can either be whole or already ground. The roasting machines reach 550 degrees Fahrenheit, with the beans constantly being kept moving in order to prevent them from burning, at which when they reach an internal temperature of 400 degrees that the beans begin to turn brown.


Reaching stores and coffee shops worldwide, the coffee is now ready for drinking, either freeze dried and instant for a quick morning on the go, or through a coffee machine grind and drip for a mid afternoon espresso. What’s your favourite way to drink coffee?