Many people start their day with a cup of coffee. I know I do. But few people stop and think what they are actually consuming. Granted that we just want our caffeine fix, so where the coffee is from won’t be the first thought that comes to mind. Maybe this article inspires you so that when your coffee machine is brewing that liquid goodness, you will give a thought to the producers that make your morning coffee possible.
Coffee comes from a plant from Ethiopia. The origin plant is known as Coffea. From this plant there are two important species for the commercial use: arabica and robusta. Arabica trees produce a fine, mild, aromatic coffee and represent approximately 70% of the world’s coffee production. The Robusta tree is more resistant to disease and parasites, which makes it easier and cheaper to cultivate. Robusta beans produce a coffee which has a distinctive taste and about 50-60% more caffeine.
Okay, but I don’t care about some plant in Africa whether is strong or aromatic. Right. These trees have flowers and these flowers eventually turn into a a fruit: coffee cherries. Depending on the variety, it will take approximately 3 to 4 years for the newly planted coffee trees to produce a fruit. In most coffee tree varieties the coffee cherry turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested. There are a few methods to harvest coffee cherries, but the one with best results (and also more expensive) is to handpick the cherries. Other methods include strip harvest or machine harvest, however, you will get ripe and not ripe cherries and you might damage the coffee tree.
Inside these cherries that coffee farmers have handpicked for us, there are coffee beans. Depending on their size they are classified and have specific characteristics. But that’s for another post… And these coffee beans are processed through wet, dry or mixed methods, which again, is for another post.
The point is that these coffee beans are the ones the barista at your local coffee shop grinds to make your daily caffeine input. Or the ground version of them when you do your coffee in the morning.