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How Is Coffee Made: Exploring The Journey From Seed to Cup

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

There is no shame in admitting that you're like one of those millions worldwide who can't start their day without a steaming cup of Coffee! Coffee, for you, is not a drink; it's a lifestyle! We know this because you are here. You're here because Coffee runs in your veins, and you are curious about the entire scheme of things that involves the process of making Coffee.

It is awe-worthy how that tiny bean makes its way to your cup. The incredible voyage your morning cup of Coffee has taken is no ordinary journey. From the plantations of specialty farmers to expert roasters, each coffee bean embarks on an adventure filled with hard work, precision, and dedication. The process of Coffee production is fascinating as it is complex and involves multiple stages of cultivation, processing, and brewing. Also, let's not forget the role of nature's elements behind the vibrant flavors of Coffee. From the fertile soils to the ideal climate and the lofty altitudes, it is the coffee belt holds the key to extraordinary coffee flavors.


In this blog, we'll explore the journey of Coffee, from seed to cup, and gain a deeper understanding of the intricate process of how your Coffee was made.

The Significance of Coffee Terroir on How Coffee is Grown


It all begins in the renowned Coffee Belt, an equatorial region between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Three major coffee powerhouses emerge within this belt: Latin America, Asia/Pacific, and Africa. What sets them apart? The perfect combination of nutrient-rich soil, ideal climate, and altitude allows coffee trees to thrive and their impact on how Coffee is produced.



The science and geography behind it reveal that the conditions in how Coffee is grown significantly impact its quality. Factors such as soil composition, location, climate patterns, and cultivation techniques contribute to the distinct character of Coffee from each region. This is where the concept of terroir comes into play, where coffee cherries absorb the unique traits of their environment.



Types of Coffee


There are two main types of Coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are considered superior, boasting sweeter and more intricate flavors. Coffee made from Arabica beans is also more expensive and involves a meticulous process of coffee making. On the other hand, Robusta beans offer a bolder taste and pack a higher caffeine punch. They are hardier, thriving in challenging conditions. Both coffee bean types have their unique place in the diverse world of Coffee.



The Journey of How Coffee Is Made from Beans


1. Cultivation and Harvesting


How Is Coffee Made - Coffee Beans Cultivation

The journey of Coffee begins with cultivation. Coffee plants thrive in tropical regions, typically between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The plants require specific conditions, including a stable climate, well-drained soil, and adequate rainfall. These plants take several years to mature and produce berries. Coffee is made from these berries. The Coffee berries, known as coffee cherries, are usually bright red when ripe and contain two coffee beans. Farmers meticulously handpick the cherries to ensure only the fully ripe ones are harvested, as they provide the best flavor. This labor-intensive process often involves multiple rounds of picking since not all cherries ripen simultaneously.


2. Coffee Beans Processing


How Coffee Is Produced - Coffee Beans Processing

Once the coffee cherries are harvested, they undergo processing to remove the pulp and reveal the coffee beans. There are two primary methods of coffee beans processing:


a) Dry Processing (Natural Method): In this traditional method, the cherries are spread out to dry in the sun. They are regularly raked to prevent fermentation and mold growth. The dried cherries are mechanically hulled a few weeks later, and the coffee beans are separated and further dried.


b) Wet Processing (Washed Method): The cherries are immediately sorted to remove debris and then pulped to remove the outer skin. The remaining sticky beans, covered in a mucilage layer, are fermented in water for a specific period to loosen the mucilage. The beans are then washed and dried under the sun or using mechanical dryers.


c) Honey Processing: This method of coffee beans processing combines the elements of the dry and wet methods. Honey processing involves selectively removing part of the cherry before fermentation and drying. This meticulous process leaves behind a portion of the sticky mucilage, resembling the texture of honey. This coffee beans processing method leads to the perfect balance between sweetness and a clean, vibrant taste.


d) Anaerobic Fermentation and Carbonic Maceration: As coffee farmers strive to maintain quality and preserve antioxidant activity in specialty coffees, they have devised innovative processing methods alongside traditional ones. Two such methods are anaerobic fermentation and carbonic maceration. These techniques rapidly change the coffee fruit, resulting in flavors distinct from conventional fermentation methods. During fermentation, de-pulped beans interact with various microbial groups like lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, enterobacteria, and yeasts, ultimately creating a unique flavor profile.


3. Milling and Sorting


How coffee is made - Coffee milling

Once the process of Coffee drying is complete, they are milled. Milling involves removing the outer layers of the dried beans, including the parchment skin and the silverskin. The process of Coffee milling ensures that the beans are clean and ready for roasting. After milling, the beans are sorted based on size, density, and quality using techniques such as sieving and gravity separation.


1. Roasting


Roasting is a crucial step in the process of making Coffee. It transforms green coffee beans into aromatic, flavorful Coffee. During the roasting process, the beans are heated to high temperatures, causing them to change in color, texture, and chemical composition. The length of roasting and temperature can significantly influence Coffee's taste profile. The process of Coffee roasting releases the distinct aromas and flavors we associate with different coffee varieties.


2. Grinding and Brewing


If you are wondering how Coffee is made from beans, they are typically ground before brewing. Grinding the roasted beans increases their surface area, which helps extract flavors properly during brewing. The fineness of the grind depends on the brewing method. Coarse grounds are suitable for methods like the French press, while finer grounds are used for espresso.


Finally, the ground coffee is brewed with hot water using various methods such as drip brewing, espresso machines, pour-over, or French press. The brewing process extracts the soluble compounds and oils from the coffee grounds, resulting in the familiar beverage we enjoy.


The method of how to make coffee beans is an unmatched process that involves the efforts of countless farmers, processors, roasters, and baristas. Each step, from the careful cultivation and harvesting of the cherries to the precise roasting and brewing methods, leads to the flavors, taste, and aroma that Coffee is known for. Each of these steps plays a crucial role in bringing out the distinct characteristics of each coffee bean. To top it all, the process of coffee production directly affects the livelihoods of millions of farmers worldwide. The coffee industry provides employment opportunities, supports local economies, and plays a significant role in coffee-growing regions' social and cultural fabric.


Now that we know how your Coffee was made, the dedication and expertise involved in bringing it to your table must be lauded. From the hands of the hardworking farmers to the skilled artisans who roast and brew the beans, The incomparable process of coffee making can be attributed to the skill, passion, and artistry of the farmers of the Coffee Belt. Whether you are an espresso fan, like a smooth pour-over, or a creamy latte, the story of “ how to make Coffee” from seed to cup is remarkable. It's a journey that brings together nature, science, and human skill, resulting in a beverage that is nothing short of an elixir of life for us.

 
About The Author: Jorge Armando Ciciliani
Jorge - Coffee Expert

Jorge is a seasoned coffee professional with a lifelong passion for all things coffee. For over a decade, he has fervently immersed himself in the world of coffee, mastering its preparation, understanding its societal impact, and uncovering its cultural significance. Starting as a barista at the young age of 15 and later managing a coffee roastery, this journey led him to work as a quality control manager for a green coffee importer. Traveling across countries in Central and North America, Jorge has explored various coffee traditions and honed his skills through Specialty Coffee Association courses. As a QC Cupping coffee connoisseur and sensory skills enthusiast, Jorge is a true expert in the art of brewing and savoring the perfect cup. Consider him your trusted Fika expert.

 

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