Have you ever wondered how that deliciously magical stuff called coffee makes it all the way from “the coffee belt” and into that coffee mug in your hands? But you’ve been way too busy enjoying your nice hot cup to do all that research? Well you’re in luck! We’ve decided to put some of our old photos to work to show you a nice looking and quick version of the coffee bean’s long journey.
Each year the Uncommon Coffee Roasters team travels to regions of Central America to work with our direct trade partners and to seek new coffees and partnerships. Over the past 5 years we have traveled to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala multiple times.
The coffee tree is a tropical evergreen shrub. It grows only in the “Coffee Belt”, which is the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The two most commercially important species grown are varieties of Coffea arabica (Arabicas) and Coffea canephora (Robustas).
Coffee is often grown in mountainous areas. So use of mechanical harvesters is impossible so the ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand.
Once harvested, the fruit is then ran through a machine to be “pulped.” When using the wet method, they are then pulped by a machine that squeezes the cherries so that the flesh and the skin are separated from the beans. The beans are left with a slippery outer skin (the mucilage) and a parchment covering.
Side Note: Once the seed or “bean” is removed, all that is left is the outer skin which is also known as the “cascara.” [Pictured below] Some use the cascara to produce Coffee Cherry Tea. (This could be a whole separate article so that’s all I will tell you! Read more about Cascara here)
The beans are further cleaned to remove lingering bits of pulp and put in large tanks; there the mucilage is broken down by natural enzymes and washed away. This can take between 24 and 36 hours. Then the coffee is thoroughly washed with clean water.
Pictured Above: UCR Vice President, Stephen, cleaning the seeds.
Pictured Above: Head roaster, John, is helping remove the washed seeds.
Next is the drying process. The best, but least utilized method of drying coffee is by using drying tables. In this method the pulped and fermented coffee is spread thinly on raised beds, which allows the air to pass on all sides of the coffee. The coffee is mixed by hand and the drying that takes place is more uniform and fermentation is less likely.
[Pictured above] UCR President, Guy Darienzo, and his team help load the wet seeds onto the drying tables.
The beans are left to dry for up to 15 days depending on the amount of moisture and the drying method used.The coffee beans are then cleaned, screened, sorted and graded. This ‘green coffee’ is now ready for selling.
Once ready, the green coffee is shipped to our Roasting facility.
Where roasters, John and Peter, roast our beans in small batches.
We then package each coffee or blend, to be distributed to…
and enjoyed by you!
All photos are property of Uncommon Coffee Roasters.
Some of the information included in the article is courtesy of coffeeandhealth.org and coffeeresearch.org