Coffee and the Equator
That cup of Starbucks that you are drinking as you’re reading this, started at its root in one of these countries. Spread along the equator, coffee grows in hot and humid climates in varying regions of South America, Africa and Asia. The two major species of Coffee are Robusta and Arabica, each grown in different parts of the world. The flavor and composition of your coffee all depends on which region it is grown in.
1. Coffee beans are actually Coffee seeds
Those roasted beans that you grind in the morning to make your cup of joe are actually the seeds of the coffee plant. If left unpicked the unroasted coffee beans will fall off and grow into a new coffee plant. From this little seed the journey to your cup begins. The Coffee plants takes about 3/4 weeks to mature and bear its fruit called the coffee cherry.
2. Cherry Picking
When the Coffee Plant is ready to be picked, there are two methods available for harvesting the mature fruit. In most places the ripe coffee cherries are picked by hand through a labor intensive process that requires hours of back-breaking labor as most coffee is grown on uneven slopes of land which makes it difficult for machines to pick the cherries. Hand picking on one hand does provide excellent quality control as only the ripe cherries are chosen to be picked.
After the cherry coffee is picked the coffee is sorted by immersion in water. Bad or unripe fruit will float and the good ripe fruit will sink. The skin of the cherry and some of the pulp is removed by pressing the fruit by machine in water through a screen. The beans must then be dried to a water content of about 10% before they are stable.Coffee beans can be dried in the sun or by machine but in most cases it is dried in the sun to 12-13% moisture and brought down to 10% by machine.
4.Milled to Perfection
The final step before exporting the unroasted coffee bean is called milling. This process removes the outer layer of the dried cherry coffee. After these layer is removed the coffee is then sorted by size and weight, and beans are also reviewed for color flaws or other imperfections. Beans are sized by being passed through a series of screens. They are also sorted pneumatically by using an air jet to separate heavy from light beans. Finally, defective beans are removed either by hand or by machinery. Beans that are unsatisfactory due to deficiencies (unacceptable size or color, over-fermented beans, insect-damaged, unhulled) are removed. In many countries, this process is done both by machine and by hand, ensuring that only the finest quality coffee beans are exported. The unroasted coffee at this point is call
Once the green coffee beans have been separated from the coffee cherries, they are packed in burlap bags and shipped to all corners of the globe. Coffee is traded on the commodities market, and also directly. Increasingly, direct traded coffee, with incentives for farmers like fair trade price guarantees, is becoming the norm for higher end and gourmet coffee. Most mass produced coffee is still traded on the commodities market, however.
6.Roasting(aka baking the beans)
Once the green coffee beans are imported to a coffee company, the roasting is done in the imported nation to the specifications that the coffee company prefers for their certain brands. Roasting is the heat process that turns coffee into the fragrant, dark brown beans we know and love. It is both a science and art as the beans gain certain favors and properties depending on the temperature and duration of their roasting.
7. Brewing is all about Science.
From the K-cup to the Chemex and the french press, there are many variations of how to brew a cup of coffee, all with varying results. Behind them all is the science of exact measurements of water, coffee beans, how long the ground beans are in the water, to any small detail in-between. All has an affect on the flavor of your coffee. Since brewing coffee is such a technical science there are varying levels of manual control that is offered by coffee machine makers around the world. That is the beautiful part about brewing, you can be as scientific and creative as you want or as lazy and in a hurry as you want to. Check out various online guides, if you are really interested in learning more about the art and science of brewing your coffee.
8.The Never-ending Cycle
Well there you go. The 100,000 mile journey to your cup is complete. You are enjoying that nice cup of hot coffee as you read that, the only issue and you know this to be turn is that you’re addicted to coffee. Don’t feel bad, the rest of the world is too. The Coffee trade market is second only to the Oil market globally. This cycle of growing, picking, processing etc, is never ending. The more we consume, the more addicted we become. The World is addicted to coffee and we have created a never ending economy that will never run out of demand.