Blacksmith Coffee Beans: from origin to cup
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages worldwide, and its popularity can hardly be overstated. While coffee comes in many forms- latte, espresso, cappuccino, to name a few- one element remains constant - the coffee beans. As the key ingredient that provides that beloved aroma and taste, coffee beans are essential to every cup of joe.
Origins of Coffee
Coffee is a product of the Coffea plant species, which grows natively in tropical regions of Africa. The earliest written accounts of coffee date back to the 15th century, in the kingdom of Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia), where the locals discovered that the coffee cherries, which contain the beans, could be roasted and brewed into a drink. The popularity of the drink eventually spread to the Arabian Peninsula, where coffee was grown in huge quantities and exported to other countries.
Production of Coffee Beans
Coffee beans go through a long and complex process before they end up in your coffee cup. The production process can be divided into two stages - pre-harvest and post-harvest.
The coffee tree is grown from a seed or cutting and takes five years to reach maturity, where it produces its first yield. Coffee trees thrive in sunny, high altitude areas and require specific soil types to flourish. Once the coffee trees are mature, the coffee cherries begin to grow and ripen, a process that takes 9-11 months.
When the coffee cherries are at their optimal ripeness, they are harvested by hand or machine. The harvested coffee cherries are then sorted to remove any damaged or unripe fruit. The beans are extracted from the pulp through various methods such as the wet or dry process.
The Wet Process:
In the wet process, the cherries are sorted and placed in a pulping machine which separates the skin and flesh from the beans. The beans are then placed in a fermentation tank for 12-48 hours to remove any residual mucilage. Afterward, the beans are washed, dried, and then polished to remove any remaining silverskin.
The Dry Process:
In the Dry process, The coffee cherries are sorted, washed, and then dried in the sun or in a machine until their moisture content is reduced to 10-12%. The dried cherries are then hulled to remove the skin and then the beans are sorted according to their size and density.
Roasting of Coffee Beans
Roasting, one of the most crucial stages in the production of coffee beans, transforms green beans into the flavorful coffee we know and love. The roasting process generally takes between 10-15 minutes and happens at temperatures of around 200-240°C.
During the roasting process, the green coffee beans go through a series of color changes - from yellow to light brown to darker shades - as the heat converts the sugars and amino acids present in the beans. At the same time, carbon dioxide is released, and the beans expand and crack, producing sounds known as "first crack" and "second crack." The degree of roast, from light to dark, can influence the flavor and aroma of your coffee.