November 19, 2018

How Your Coffee Beans Made It to the Pantry

When you want an excellent cup of coffee, you head to your pantry to make it. Whether you grind your beans at home or purchase grounds, it is easier than ever before to brew coffee or make espresso at home.

There is a lot of work which goes into the availability of coffee today. Setting aside the argument about how modern coffee has fewer flavors than 19th century coffee because of commercialization, the road from the farm to your pantry is one that is still long and winding. It is incredible that coffee is priced as it is with the work that goes into it.

The Harvesting and Processing of Coffee

When harvesting coffee, the process is often difficult. Because each coffee plant may have ripened and unripened fruit on it, most harvesters must pick the fruits by hand. If the coffee cherries are picked before they are fully mature, the quality of the coffee you drink will suffer.

Immature berries do not continue to ripen after picking.

Harvesters must also separate the berries which have become too ripe from the main crop. The over-ripened berries, referred to as “raisins,” does spoil the beans if the fruit pulp can get through the barrier between it and the seed.

Some commercial growers use a “shaker” machine that will cause the ripe berries to drop into a container. Even when shaking the plants in unison, however, you’re increasing the inclusion risk immature fruit with the final product.

Once the cherries have been picked, the seeds must be removed from them. The seeds are what will eventually become the coffee beans or grounds which you store at home.

There Are Two Common Processing Options

When separating the fruit pulp from the seeds, there are “wet” and “natural” methods used.

The natural method is the preferred option for those who want a cup of coffee with bold flavors and energizing aromatics. When the fruit is allowed to dry before being removed from the seeds, some of the natural sweetness embeds itself into the bean. That creates a cup of coffee which is naturally sweeter.

The wet method uses a mechanical process to separate the fruit from the seeds. For some processors, it may also mean that the cherries were pulped in the sun. With this method, achieving the possibility of a cleaner flavor profile occurs because there are fewer ways for the pulp to interfere with the bean.

After removing the seeds, the coffee beans go through a fermentation process. They’re provided with a water bath to soften the paste surrounding the bean to have it removed. Then the parchment is dried carefully using a turning process.

At the end of that stage, the green coffee is now dry-milled. It is ready for roasting.

Roasting Coffee to Perfection

Coffee beans are transported and sold before being roasted in most circumstances. During the average roasting cycle, the seeds will roast for up to 15 minutes at a temperature of up to 450°F. Every roaster uses their personal preferences and techniques for this step, which is why you’ll see a variety of coffee products available for sale.

When the seeds roast, the flavor oils within the seed can release their character, which is how each coffee receives its flavor.

Five generic roast colors are used for classification purposes: yellow, cinnamon, city, chestnut (brown), and dark.

Once the roasting finishes, the beans are moved to a cooling process, darkening one additional shade in the next four minutes.

Now You’re Ready to Grind Your Coffee

When looking for that perfect coffee you can choose to purchase whole beans or ground coffee. Grinding whole beans at home is the best option as you’ll maximize the boldness of your cup of coffee.

Grinds are classified into four categories: coarse, medium, fine, and pulverized.

If a grind is too coarse, then you’ll be stuck with watery coffee. When the grind is too fine, there is added bitterness to each cup.

Then the rest of the process is up to you. Choose your preferred method for brewing, then enjoy that cup of Blackout Coffee which worked so hard to make it to your pantry.

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