Coffee is a dark-colored, tasty, and slightly acidic beverage. It has stimulating effects, thanks to its high caffeine content. Its numerous benefits make it one of the most loved beverages globally. Coffee is brewed in several ways. Regardless of the method used to brew coffee, it is brewed from roasted or green coffee beans. But how are coffee beans made? Continue reading to find out.
The Journey of Coffee from Seeds, Plants, to Beans
Coffee is a regular part of the lives of most people across the world. It is easy to take coffee for granted. However, coffee beans travel a long way before finding their way into your morning cup of coffee. They encounter many people and go through numerous processes to get into your cup.
Essentially, coffee beans are seeds of coffee fruits. These fruits are commonly known as coffee cherries or berries. They are products of the Coffea plant. Producing coffee beans starts with growing coffee plants. Coffee plants are flowering shrubs. Although they were once native to tropical Africa and Asia, they are now common in many parts of the world across the coffee belt.
Coffee trees that produce the best quality coffee thrive in certain climates, especially those along the equator. Coffee trees require ample sunshine, well-draining soil, sufficient rainfall, and no frost to thrive. Also, growing high-quality coffee requires steady temperatures, high elevations, and mineral-rich soils.
Coffee beans are available in several types, with the major types being Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. To start with, Arabica coffee beans are considered superior to Robusta. Arabica beans have more complex and sweeter flavors. However, they are more challenging to grow and expensive.
On the other hand, Robusta beans are easier to grow and more affordable. They thrive in rougher conditions where Arabica beans cannot grow. Also, Robusta coffee beans have more caffeine content. However, Robusta beans have harsher flavors.
When coffee plants mature, they produce fruits (coffee cherries). Each coffee cherry often contains two beans. However, some cherries contain only one coffee bean, which is known as peaberry. Peaberry coffee is rare and very expensive.
Harvesting Coffee Cherries
Once coffee cherries ripen, they are harvested. It takes about three to four years for most varieties of coffee plants to bear fruit. The fruits are initially green. They turn deep red when ripe. Ripe coffee cherries are picked by hand or harvested with the help of a machine.
So How Are Coffee Beans Made?
The process of making coffee beans becomes clearer during the processing stage. Once coffee cherries are harvested, they undergo processing to get green coffee beans. Coffee processing involves removing the coffee seeds from the coffee cherries and drying the seeds (beans).
Getting the beans out of cherries involves removing multiple layers of skin covering the beans. The cherries are processed using either wet processing or dry processing methods. Wet processing is a newer technique than dry processing.
With dry processing, harvested cherries are placed under the sun to dry for about two weeks. They are turned several times daily to dry evenly. Next, the skins covering the beans are removed in several stages until green beans are exposed.
On the other hand, wet processing involves washing and fermenting coffee cherries after harvesting. During this process, outer layers of skin are removed. The pulp that is left behind is rinsed off upon softening. Today, wet processing is more preferred as it is less likely to damage the beans.
After processing, the green coffee beans are sorted. Bad coffee beans are thrown out. Good beans are packed in bags for shipping to roasters and coffee houses.
Roasting Coffee Beans
While some people brew green coffee with green coffee beans, most coffee lovers brew coffee with roasted coffee beans. When roasters receive shipments of green beans, they roast them into brown beans.
As coffee beans heat during roasting, they turn from green to brown. The richness of the brown color depends on the roasting level. Roasting the beans makes them more soluble for easier extraction of coffee flavors and oils.
The kind of flavor you get from the beans when brewing coffee depends on the roast level. Essentially, lighter roasts are roasted for the shortest time. They retain the taste of the coffee origin and have bright floral and fruit flavors. Medium roasts feature caramelized flavors while darker roasts have a full body with toasted flavor notes.
After roasting, the beans are ground with a burr coffee grinder or blade coffee grinder to increase their surface area for easier extraction of coffee flavors. Some coffee lovers prefer grinding coffee beans at home while others opt for pre-ground coffee for more convenience.
Hopefully, we have answered your question on how are coffee beans made. Essentially, it starts with planting coffee seeds. Once the coffee trees mature, they flower to bear coffee fruits. Coffee beans are extracted from the coffee fruits after processing. Thereafter, the green coffee beans are roasted to give you brown coffee beans. It is these brown coffee beans that you grind to brew your favorite cup of coffee. Whether you prefer cold brew coffee, espresso, pour-over coffee, or French press coffee, coffee beans come from coffee trees.