Evolution from spout to bean

Red coffee cherries

the coffee from spout to Bean

The life cycle of the coffee tree.

The coffee plant grows in the wide, tropical belt at the equator called the coffee belt.

There are two types of coffee – Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica coffee makes up over 70% of the world´s coffee, it is also the most difficult to grow as it is more easily attacked by diseases, pests and frost. This is also why it is the most expensive coffee.

Arabica is available in many varieties – Typica and Bourbon are the best known and from here come i.e., Tico, Kent, Mocha, Blue Mountain to name a few. Catuais is a cross between Mondo Nuevo and Caturra which is a Bourbon variant. Catuais fruits can be yellow called amario or red called vermelho.

All coffee is native to Ethiopia and is wild-growing shrubs.

Coffee cultivation requires a very specific climate and soil at the equator, where there is also a big risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes, frost, floods, droughts and famines.

The coffee plant

The coffee plant starts its life as a spout from a “parchment bean” that is planted superficially in a sandy soil or from a cutting. Over the course of a few days, the spout has pushed the bean out of the ground and obtained the first young leaves. The plant is cared for gently and after approx. one year the small plant is ready to be planted out, preferably under the protection of other plants or trees on a slope or flat terrain. The sizes of the coffee plant vary from small shrubs and up to 18 metes high, depending on the variety.

After 4-5 years it starts to bear fruit and it will do so for approx. 20-25 years, under constant care. The plant can bear ripe fruits, flowers and green fruits on the same branch, therefore it may be necessary to harvest by hand if the coffee farm is located on a difficult terrain. Growing season varies by species and place of growth. The flowers on the coffee plant smell and are reminiscent of jasmine. They sit in dense inflorescences and bloom after a few days, which are replace by clusters of small green berries before turning into red or yellow berries after several month.

Coffee berries

The coffee fruit is called a coffee berry and looks like a cherry in size, shape and color. The pulp is sweet and sticky and protects the coffee beans. There are usually 2 beans in each berry, and they lie with the flat sides facing each other. They are surrounded by a membrane called the silver membrane and are encapsulated in a protective peel called the parchment layer. The beans that are to be seed beans must remain in their parchment if they are to germinate, hence the name Formerly “parchment bean”.

There may be smaller berries than average, and in these berries, there is only one bean called a “Peaberry”. A Peaberry has no flat sides, and it is perfectly round. These Peaberry can be sold at a higher price than regular coffee beans and are therefore not defective.

The Harvest and drying procedures

Once the coffee berry has matured and been harvested, the pulp must be removed either via the wet- or dry method. The drying method is used especially in dry areas.


Solar dryer

      In the drying method, the freshly picked berries are rinsed to sort out defective berries. Then they are spread out so the can sun dry, either on the ground or raised beds. After a few weeks of drying and turning, the berries are sent for processing to remove the pulp and parchment from the beans. The carries are then classified and packed in jute bags.

The wet method is more expensive as it requires more equipment, time and water. Here the berries are rinsed in large tanks where the water loosens the skin and the flesh. During the process, the beans are sorted through sieves by size. Then the beans are dried as with the drying method.

The classifications of the coffee

The coffee beans are classified according to origin and vaiety. Classifications include Kenya AA, Honduras SHG – Strictly high grown and Guatemala SHB – Strictly hard bean.

In addition, the coffee can be classified according to the SCAE Scale – Specialty Coffee Association Europe. Here the coffee is scaled according to size and quality. The highest grades have a score of 82 and up. The coffee in these qualities must have a maximum of 8 defects per. 300 g raw beans. A defective bean can be e.g., cracked, insect-bitten, black bean or overripe bean.

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