Coffee is an extremely common part of every day life. Most adults in the United States cannot start their day without a cup. It strange that even though coffee is such a common thing many people never stop to think where the coffee bean comes from.
There is a long process required to harvest, sort, process, and roast, and distribute coffee beans. This process can be approached in a few different ways. Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee cherry. The coffee tree grows the coffee cherries. This essay will discuss the hand picked and dry processed methods. The method used to harvest and process coffee beans by hand can be broken down into five steps.
The first step to harvesting coffee beans is picking the cherries that are ripe. Coffee trees grow in warmer climates and are frequent in South America, especially Brazil (Rosenblatt par. 8). Workers pick the coffee cherries by hand. It is their responsibility to choose the cherries that are ripe. Ripe cherries are plump, red, and glossy. The cherries grow in clusters and mature at different rates. The cherries begin green then “ripen to red” (Rosenblatt par. 45) The red cherries are picked and the green are left behind to ripen for another day. Once the cherries are picked they are usually placed into a basket. After this has been done it is time to dry out the cherries.
Now that the coffee beans have been picked it is time to start processing them. The drying process must be started almost immediately after the beans have been picked. They are spread out in a sunny field. If there is too much rain or not enough sun light it can interrupt the drying process. Here they are left to dry for seven to ten days. In set intervals the beans are raked. This raking ensures that all sides of the cherries are allowed to dry (Templar par 6.). Once the cherry is dried the skin is brown and the bean will rattle inside. Now that the cherry is dry it is time to begin husking.
Once the cherry has been fully dried it is time to start peeling back the skin and fruit that is covering the bean. This is done by hand, usually by the same workers who picked the cherries (Poblete par. 10) There are multiple layers to the coffee cherry. During the drying process these layers become one and can be easily peeled away. Once they have been peeled what is left is referred to as a “green coffee bean” (Dornbusch par. 4).
This green coffee bean is now packaged and shipped off to various roasters.
Coffee is usually roasted inside of a giant drum. The drum is heated to about 500 degrees. The amount of heat causes a chemical change in the bean. It raises the oils from inside and turns it dark brown and extremely aromatic. So that the beans do not burn in the intense heat the drum is constantly rotated. Coffees are roasted for different amounts of time depending on the type and what it will be used for (Dornbusch par. 4). They way the roast of the beans is kept track of is quite remarkable. A sounds system is used. The beans crack at certain points while cooking. The first “pop” signals a medium roast and the second a dark roast (Dornbusch par. 9).
After the coffee is roasted it is packaged and distributed to many different business. These businesses either sell the coffee in whole beans, ground, or already brewed into coffee. If the coffee is whole it should be used in 10 to 14 days. If it is ground it should be used immediately. Many companies use “flavor seals” in an attempt to keep the coffee fresher, longer (Editors par. 2). The coffee is sold off and used in different foods and beverages all over the world.
There is a long and involved process to harvesting, processing, roasting, and distributing coffee beans. You must choose the rip cherries. Then you must dry them out. After the cherries are dried the must be hulled. Once they are hulled they are roasted. Once they are roasted they are ready to be used for coffee and are distributed to different companies for sale. The life of the coffee bean is a long and interesting one.