How is Coffee Made?

by Véronique Raymond

This morning, I’ve succumbed to my curiosity. In the five years since my first cup of coffee, I haven’t delved too far into the process of making it. Most of us, I’d wager, haven’t.

Because most of us can’t function without our morning cup of joe, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who make it all possible. Weird to consider that a few seeds have given rise to a gigantic global culture and industry. Most people in the globe enjoy a morning cup of coffee, but few have any idea where it comes from.

We’re going to guide you through the whole process of brewing coffee, from the farm to your cup. So, grab a cup of your favorite brew and a comfy chair, and let’s get started!

How is Coffee Made

Exploring the Origin of Coffee Beans

It’s safe to say that even individuals who’ve never had a cup of coffee before are aware that it exists in bean forms. But where do those little things we like to smell, grind, and finally drink originate?

It’s important to note that coffee beans are not beans at all. Coffee plants can be grown from these seeds if they are planted. As you may have guessed, the beans from these plants are used to make the coffee you drink every morning.

Coffee cherries, which are the fruit that develops on coffee plants, provide the seeds for the beans. Coffee plants generally grow on uneven terrains, such as a mountain or hillside, making harvesting difficult. For those of us with short tempers, the plant’s fruit-bearing period can be as long as four years! Just a few examples of why you should show your appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into producing your daily cup of joe.

You should be aware that the beans you buy at the grocery store are not the same as those you pick straight off the plant. This is due to the fact that the coffee beans we use have already been treated and roasted… but we’ll get to that in just a moment.

Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee beans, although they are harvested all over the world. Even yet, many people like beans from Central America, Latin America, and Africa. Indonesian coffee is also a favorite among certain individuals.

A Coffee Production Overview

Once the countless tons of coffee cherries have been harvested, the processing phase can begin. To remove the fruit’s outer shell implies that just the bean remains to be used in the coffee-producing and brewing process.

The farmer’s method for preparing the coffee for consumption has a significant influence on the final flavor of the bean. We’re going to discuss some of the most popular coffee processing methods that are available to growers.

The Wet Method

Once the fleshy pulp of the coffee cherries has been removed, the beans are fermented in water tanks for 18-24 hours using the wet processing method. This aids in the decomposition of the bean’s slimy outer coat. After that, the beans are washed in fresh water and either dried in the sun or in a huge mechanical dryer that rotates.

The Dry Method

The dry technique, sometimes referred to as the natural approach, is spreading out the collected coffee cherries on a large terrace to dry. In areas with a restricted water supply, this procedure is prevalent. The cherries are placed in a de-pulping machine after they have been properly dried. Ethiopian and Kenyan coffees, in particular, tend to have a fruitier flavor as a result of this processing procedure.

The Honey Processing Method

If you’re looking for a cup of coffee that’s sweet without any added sugar, the honey processing method is the best option for you.

The approach has its origins in Costa Rica, where it was first used as a test to see if it might reduce water usage. Despite the name, there is no honey involved in the processing of the coffee beans.

During the fermentation process, the sticky mucilage that coats the beans (commonly referred to as “honey”) is left intact rather than being removed from the coffee cherry. There are four different honey processing categories depending on how long honey-coated beans are left to ferment.

Honey Processing Categories:

White Honey Process: Coffee’s honey-like mucilage is stripped from the beans in the range of 80 to 100 percent. With the least amount of fermentation time, white honey processed beans produce a coffee that is just faintly sweet, rather than an overwhelmingly sugary brew.

Yellow Honey Process: It is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of the honey in the bean is extracted during the yellow honey process and that these beans ferment fast. However, it takes a week for them to dry.

Red Honey Process: Red honey processing removes up to 50% of the coffee beans’ mucilage. A drying period of two to three weeks follows. Processing these beans this way can be problematic, since they can get sour or over-fermented if not constantly monitored.

Black Honey Process: The black honey procedure removes as little of the coffee’s honey as possible, and these beans ferment the longest, sometimes lingering up to 2 weeks! Because of the lengthier fermenting period, the brew is often richer and more full-bodied.

Dehydration Method

For those of us who enjoy instant coffee, dehydration seems to be the only way it could exist.

Spray or freeze-drying is used to dehydrate entire coffee beans, which have been roasted, ground, and brewed before they are dried. Many people turn to crystalline coffee granules when a traditional coffee maker is unavailable or they want a cup of coffee in a jiffy.

Spray Drying Process: The coffee granules are made by spraying liquid coffee concentrate into extremely hot and dry air.

Freeze Drying Process: After chilling at 20 degrees Fahrenheit and again at -40 degrees Fahrenheit, the liquid coffee is transformed into a block of frozen coffee. Instant coffee crystals are left behind after the mass is broken down into minute grains and then transferred to a drying vacuum.

Decaf Coffee

When the beans are still green, the decaffeination process begins. To begin, boiling water or steam is used to swell the coffee beans. Then, a solvent is applied to eliminate the caffeine from them, such as ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, or carbon dioxide. For roasting and packaging, the freshly decaffeinated beans must first be dried.

Decaffeinated coffee isn’t made in the same way by all manufacturers. Others avoid any reliance on chemical solvents in their processes. They use the Swiss Water Process instead. Pure water is used to extract the caffeine from the beans while also removing the dirt, dust, and silverskin from them.

Rumors About Coffee

Two of the most popular (and arguably most repulsive) falsehoods about how coffee is created and manufactured are being addressed now that we’ve gotten to the bottom of it. Let’s go!

Ground coffee contains ground-up cockroaches.

You’ve undoubtedly heard something like that before, presumably from a strong pre-ground coffee skeptic.

Dr. Douglas Emlen, an entomologist, disclosed in an NPR interview that at least 10% of green coffee beans are contaminated with ground cockroaches, which inspired these myths. It’s impossible to get rid of these creepy crawlies, so they’re crushed into the beans during processing.

FDA has defined a maximum number of natural faults in foods that pose no health risks to people, and sadly, they include insect byproducts. But as of yet, there is no evidence that cockroaches have been found in your favorite package of ground beans.

Coffee comes from elephant poop.

Fortunately, the cup of coffee you’re enjoying while you read this post is not made from elephant feces… Unless, of course, you spent $120 for the bag of beans from which you brewed it.

Only a Canadian entrepreneur named Blake Dinkin’s Black Ivory Coffee uses elephant feces in its roasting process. For his product, he uses elephants to process coffee beans and then extracts them from the inside of their bodies.

“Kopi luwak,” or “civet coffee,” is a notion borrowed from “elephant feces coffee,” except that the Asian palm civet is used in the processing.

You may be wondering why somebody would risk drinking crap coffee. There are others who swear by the smoothness and low acidity of Black Ivory and civet coffees, claiming they are the best of the best.

Tasting Coffee

It’s beginning to get fascinating, isn’t it? Some lucky people, known as cuppers, get to be the first ones to sample the coffee beans that have just been harvested and processed. A small batch of green coffee beans will be roasted and ground for taste testing after they have been visually assessed.

A competent cupper can evaluate several batches and samples in one day and yet be able to identify distinct defects or peculiarities. For more than simply finding out what’s wrong with the coffee, it’s important to taste-test it to identify which beans work best together.

To judge the coffee’s fragrance, the cupper inhales deeply. The scent has a significant impact on the quality of the coffee. Next, the cupper will take a small amount of coffee, cover his taste buds, and spit it out

It is only after the beans have been sampled that they may be sent to roasters…

As a result, we think it’s an art form.

Roasting Coffee Beans

One of the most critical steps in the journey is the roasting of the coffee beans. The green coffee beans are handled with great care throughout the roasting process, which results in the delicious beans we get to savor at home.

Despite the fact that professional coffee roasters handle the majority of the work, some serious coffee connoisseurs roast their own beans at home.

Let’s take a tour of the coffee roasting process from start to finish:

Pre-Heating: In order to begin roasting green beans, the drum must be warmed to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The roasting temperature will vary depending on the type of roasting equipment and the method of roasting.

Drying: Having entered the roaster, the coffee beans are now beginning to absorb the warmth of the machine. The water within the beans is now evaporating, causing steam to develop.

Aromas and Sounds: It’s at this point when the roasting process really gets going. Beans are caramelizing, water is escaping through steam, and the iconic first crack can be heard. Now that the beans are ripe, they may be ground and used to produce coffee.

Further Caramelization: As soon as the first crack forms, they will continue to caramelize until they are fully roasted. At this point in the roasting process, the beans are the most preferred.

Dark Roast: The sugars will start to burn if you keep roasting. Cold brew coffee is typically made with these dark roasted beans.

Check out the video below for a more in-depth look at how coffee beans are roasted in order to obtain a better understanding of how coffee shops get roasted beans from the roasting process.

Packaging

Upon roasting, the beans are packed and exported throughout the world to be sold in supermarkets and cafes. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of packaging in the success of a coffee company. The packaging of a product plays a significant role in helping customers remember a brand when it comes to their coffee.

Coffee firms should not cut corners when it comes to packing since it is the only way to ensure that the processed beans remain as fresh as possible until they reach you and your coffee maker or espresso machine.

Grinding the Coffee Beans

The sound of fresh beans being ground in a coffee grinder is the best sound in the world. When it comes to grinding coffee, patience and care are required at every step of the process.

It’s a good idea to invest in a grinder if you don’t already have one.  The entire coffee brewing experience can be positively impacted by switching from pre-ground coffee to grinding your own beans. Even if it takes a bit more time, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the tastes as a result. It’s also worth noting that nothing of this caliber ever comes without effort!

What if you don’t have access to a coffee grinder but still want to experience the full, complex tastes of whole bean coffee? You don’t need a grinder to ground your coffee, so don’t worry.

More flavorful coffee is produced by grinding beans to a finer particle size. It’s critical that this step be not missed, since a poor grind can spoil a good batch of coffee beans. Consider the various grinds and their suitability for different types of coffee.

Coarse Grind

There are still a few fragments of coffee beans left in the coarse grind. This is the most common size for a French press, and it resembles sugar granules.

Medium Grind

The most common grind is a medium grind. It’s a common grind for drip coffee makers since it’s halfway between coarse and fine.

Fine Grind

The coffee bean is ground to a fine powder when it is subjected to a fine grind. If you were creating espresso, you’d use this type of coffee.

By grinding the beans too long, you may wind up with the improper grind size for your brewer, wasting a few pounds of coffee. Even though it’s difficult, making errors is a necessary part of growing as a professional. Nonetheless, if you’d like to learn more quickly, check out our coffee grind size chart.

Brewing the Coffee

We’ve finally arrived at the most exciting phase of the process: brewing the coffee. It’s important to note that, unless you’re preparing a cold brew, you’ll need hot water to make the coffee. Baristas and home coffee drinkers alike are continuously experimenting with new brew methods to produce better-tasting coffee.

Here are five of the most popular ways people make coffee at home.

Drip Coffee

The most prevalent method of making coffee is drip. The automated drip machine uses hot water to brew the coffee beans, which is then filtered into a pot on the ground below.

French Press

With a simple plunger mechanism, the French press is a great method to brew coffee without having to leave the house. The French press brewer does not require any installation or equipment, and it is small enough to fit on your kitchen counter without occupying too much room.

Cold Brew

The popularity of cold brew in the coffee industry is on the rise. Cold brew is prepared by brewing with water that is either cold or room temperature. It has a milder flavor and a softer texture than normal coffee. If you can believe it, cold brew is sometimes spiked with nitrogen to make it more caffeinating.

Pour Over

The pour-over technique is a variation of drip coffee that incorporates boiling water to make a flavorful cup of coffee. In terms of flavor, this approach is by far the most distinctive out there. Pour-over brew is the way to go if you want a cup noted for its distinct flavor.

Moka Pot

Brewing the grounds in the Moka pot is accomplished by the application of heated steam. Espresso-like coffee may be made at home using this method. In addition to being compact and lightweight, they are excellent camping food options because of their portability. Every time you bring it out, your guests will be curious and wonder, “What’s that?”

It’s a good idea to challenge yourself to try something new, even if you’re usually content with the coffee that comes out of your drip machine. As a bonus, you’ll learn a little more about your favorite beverage.

Popular Questions About Coffee

Are coffee beans seeds?

The sealed jar of coffee beans in your pantry has you curious to see what happens when you plant one of them in your garden. How much money can you save by growing your own coffee beans if a coffee tree sprouts?

When your only source of coffee is already roasted and processed, you won’t have the ability to develop any new coffee farms. Beans that haven’t been processed can still be used to start a coffee plant since they are seeds.

The procedure of caring for these plants involves a lot of time and patience because it might take years before they ever yield coffee cherries, so don’t get too enthusiastic about the thought of producing coffee.

Not to mention the extra year it might take for those cherries to mature!

Growing your own coffee seems fantastic in principle, but it’s probably (certainly) easier to buy the beans already ground up.

Is coffee a fruit?

Somewhat. Because it’s a seed, not a fruit, the coffee bean isn’t classified as a fruit. However, the coffee cherry is where it all begins (which is edible, and nope, it does not taste like coffee). So, while coffee beans themselves are not fruits, they are a component of a fruit, which indicates that, sadly, drinking two cups of coffee a day does not equate to eating the recommended two cups of fruit each day since the actual coffee bean isn’t a fruit.

Is coffee a grain?

Nope. As previously discussed, coffee beans may be found inside the coffee cherry, directly in the center of the red fruit’s pulp and peel, making them a grain food. Grain foods are hard seeds developed without a hull or fruit shell.

How is flavored coffee made?

To make flavored coffee, freshly roasted coffee beans are mixed with a flavoring oil while they’re still warm.

Added tastes might be synthetic chemicals made from concentrated flavors, or they can be natural flavors that have been extracted from the food. Natural flavor oils, such as vanilla, chocolate, or nut extracts, can also be used, although they are less usual than artificial flavoring since they are more expensive and time-consuming to produce.

Whether the beans are wet, dry, honey, or Swiss Water prepared before they are roasted and blended with the flavored syrup is up to the maker.

Summing Everything Up

The journey from a tree full of brightly colored coffee cherries to a steaming cup of coffee (or iced coffee, for those of you who prefer the latter) has been an incredible one. This is a labor-intensive procedure, but the end result is a superior product and a vibrant community of coffee lovers.

Next time you enjoy a cappuccino or latte, remember how much effort went into making it.

You’re going to love it much more now!

Let the caffeine flow!

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