Coffee is considered a complex agricultural product that requires the most out of care in all of its stages:
As you can already imagine, the coffee production holds a major part of all labour-intensive businesses, where each step of its production requires highest levels of knowledge, education and attention to detail. Therefore, finest quality coffee beans come from the hardest working coffee-growing companies in the entire world.
The ideal coffee-growing conditions are tropical and subtropical climates. This is why some of the greatest producers of best-quality coffee beans are coming from Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Coffee trees are usually grown to be 8-10 feet tall and it takes 4-5 years for a coffee tree to be ready to start producing coffee. During the ripening process, coffee cherries turn from green to yellow and once they reach the peak of their ripeness, they get a dark red colour. This is why coffee beans are commonly referred to as ‘coffee cherries’, because it is astonishingly surprising how the form, the colour and the size of coffee beans resemble to cherries.
Normally, coffee plantations are harvested by farmers and their families by hand, no matter how large the plantation may be. Believe it or not, coffee harvesting brings a tremendous work! Coffee cherries ripen at different times, depending on climate, the tree and the farm itself. Sometimes, it may require up to seven pickings to finish the entire harvest.
The ‘processing stage’ is a complex procedure that involves several ‘in-between activities’, such as: depulping, fermenting, drying and sorting. Soon after coffee beans have been harvested, they need to go to depulping within 24 hours. Depulping can be performed at the coffee plantation (farm) or in a centralized depulping station. This is the process when coffee seeds are separated from their outer layer of skin, also called ‘flesh’. It is of the utmost importance to depulp the coffee cherries within 24 hours, because if not, they will give the coffee a rotten, fruity flavour and ruin its quality. Fermentation gives accent to the body and flavour of the coffee beans. Usually, fermentation takes from five hours to three days, depending on humidity and altitude of the specific area. Once fermentation is completed, coffee beans are washed in several series and this is called ‘wet processing’. Afterwards, coffee beans are dried either mechanically, or by the sun. When it comes to sorting, coffee beans can be sorted in three ways: by machine, by hand and by hand with conveyor assistance.
The roasting procedure is a special skill, somewhere between science and art. This is the stage when highest attention to detail must be paid, along with outstanding sensory skills and sensory memory. The ultimate goal of roasting the coffee is to enhance all the qualities of the coffee beans, so that they can offer their fullest potential.
Brewing the coffee needs to be done with a lot of care and of course, love for coffee. In fact, brewing the coffee means honouring all the hard work that has been previously done before you can enjoy your cup of earthy, rich-flavoured coffee.
There is not much to be said about this stage, except for: Is your coffee ready? Cheers!