Where Your Coffee Comes From
Most coffee drinkers are aware that their favorite morning beverage originated far away, in a country relatively close to the equator where conditions favor its growth. Known as the coffee belt, this region includes the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean, as well as Central America, South America, and some parts of Asia and Africa. Of these, Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee beans, followed by Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia, according to 2014 statistics. While there are many varieties of coffee beans, the two most popularly consumed around the globe by far are the Arabica and Robusta beans.
Its growth process will be the same regardless of the place. They start out as seeds, often planted in huge designated farms or nurseries until they sprout. After that, they are transferred to individual pots and nurtured in the shade to promote growth. They are also planted in shady areas during the wet season in order to take advantage of rainfall that might not be available in other times of the year. Also, this encourages the plant’s root system to firmly establish itself in the ground.
Typically, three to four years of growth is needed to produce the deep red berries that appear on the coffee bush or tree in benign conditions. Inside these berries are the beans that must be harvested to make coffee. As soon as these berries turn red they are harvested, primarily by manual means for finer beans. Otherwise, the harvest is done by mechanized means, which produces less flavorful but less expensive beans.
Handpicking coffee beans ensures that only the ripe ones are picked, whereas mechanized harvesting gathers all berries at once, regardless of whether they’re ripe or not. The harvesting process itself generally occurs twice each year on mature trees considered to be regular berry producers.
Coffee bean processing
Once harvested, there are two basic methods used to process the berries – the dry method and the wet method. In the former, berries are spread out to dry in the sun and periodically turned over to make drying uniform. This drying process may consume several weeks until the moisture in the berries has been reduced to approximately 11%.
The latter method is generally used for finer beans, since equipment is used to remove the outer pulp of the berries. This will only leave a skin called parchment around the beans, which must be dried to the 11% moisture level as well.
Regardless of the method, the parchment layer will be removed and beans may be polished. After that, they are graded and sorted by their size, coloration, as well as any flaws or imperfections that may be visible on the beans. Once this state has been achieved, the beans are then shipped across the globe to satisfy the ever-growing demand for them. After roasting, the aromatic and tasty coffee is made and ready to drink. For many people around the world, this serves as the unofficial start of their day.