The journey of coffee is long and arduous. It consists of eight stages: growing, harvesting, processing, refining, cupping, exporting, and brewing.
Let's talk about each one in detail:
Cultivation At this stage, the seeds of the coffee trees are placed in special tanks and germinated until they sprout, then planted in the ground during the rainy season. After 2-3 years coffee trees begin to flower and produce fruit - yellow or red berries depending on the variety. The altitude and temperature of the plant have a direct impact on the yield. The lower the terrain and more sun and high temperatures, the higher the yield, but lower the quality. Conversely, the higher the plantation and the more shade, the flavor of the coffee is more complex.
Harvesting The second step on the way to a cup of coffee is harvesting. There are two methods: manual and machine. Most plantations use the manual method, since they are located on slopes which are not easily accessible for machinery. In commerce, machine harvesting is preferred. There are two types: stripping, when all berries are removed from the branch, and picking, when only ripe berries are removed. The second option is much more expensive for farmers, because they have to pick the coffee berries as they ripen in several stages. When the farmer does not have enough money to hire people for the harvest, it is usually the family who picks the berries together with him. This is common in many countries where small farms are predominantly located.
Processing. Coffee berries are usually dried on "African beds". After harvesting, they need to be processed immediately. And here the farmer has two options: to process it himself (not everyone has this possibility and technical capacities) or to sell the coffee to processing stations.
Cleaning. After processing, the coffee needs to be prepared for shipment. This can be done by exporters who sell the green beans to importers. The exporters may be the farmer himself, a processing station, or an intermediary company.
Cleaning takes place in two stages:
hulling (the dried pulp along with the pachment (the hard shell around the grain) is removed from the natural processing grains, while only this shell is removed from the washed processing grains. By the way, more about processing methods in our video.
sorting by size and quality
After that coffee is packed in grein-pro bags (jute bags with an inner plastic bag).
Capping. The export company performs cupping (tasting samples) for customers (importers and roasters). When the exporter sends the beans for sampling, importers organize in-house cupping by inviting roasters to see which coffees are in high demand and make a decision.
Export. Usually this process is lined up in a chain of five elements: farmer-processing station-exporter-importer-roaster. But now we can observe another system existing in parallel with the first one - direct trade, when the farmer and the final importer/roaster trade coffee directly.
Roasting. This is one of the most important processes all along the coffee journey, during which the flavor potential of the coffee is formed. How well the coffee is roasted will depend on the roaster. Read more in the video.
Preparation. In this case, everything will depend on the person brewing the coffee, because the right recipe will help to unlock the potential of the bean, which is inherent in nature and finally shaped by the roaster.
This is the long journey the bean makes before it ends up in your cup. So now, when you drink your morning cup, you can imagine the whole journey embedded in 18 grams of ground bean.