Bean to cup: The coffee production process
24th January 2014
As Britain falls out of love with the cuppa following a dramatic fall in sales of tea bags, coffee has become the rite of passage for a discerning on-trend caffeinated generation. From latte lovers and frappe fiends to cappuccino cravers and Americano aficionados, coffee preparation has become an art form. However, with an estimated 1.6 billion cups of coffee consumed globally every day (that’s just over two million cups every five minutes), the experience has become less extravagant luxury, more necessity.
Loving the fact that drinking coffee is a centuries-old ritual with an illustrious history, our Strong Vend experts have got back to (bean) basics by checking out the awe-inspiring production process; from planting, harvesting, processing and roasting to emptying the beans into our superb bean to cup coffee machines.
Spilling the beans
Allegedly discovered in the 9th century by an Ethiopian goatherd who claimed that his spirited goats had stayed up all night after crazily chewing some strange bright red berries (coffee beans), coffee is now grown throughout South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Robusta coffee has its origins in West and Central Africa, South-East Asia and Brazil whilst Arabica coffee (grown in Latin America, Central and East Africa, India and Indonesia) accounts for around 75% of coffee cultivated worldwide.
From little seeds
A coffee bean is actually a seed that is later dried, roasted and ground. Once sprouting, seedlings are moved and permanently planted into carefully formulated and rich soils where they are shaded from direct sunlight and watered regularly. Trees only tend to bear fruit (or coffee ‘cherries’) three to four years after the seedlings are first planted.
And so to harvest
The green-coloured coffee cherry turns a bright deep shade of red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested; an annual process (twice in Columbia) that lasts for around 25 years until replanting is required. All coffee, whether harvested by hand or machine, is collected using one of two methods: Strip Picked, when the entire cherry crop is gathered at once, even though some cherries may still be unripe, and Selectively Picked, the complex task of removing cherries individually by hand as soon as they ripen. The latter is an extremely labour-intensive process and mainly used to harvest the finer Arabica beans. A good picker averages 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries each day to produce between 20 and 40 pounds of coffee beans.
Processing the pickings
Once picked, the coffee cherries must be processed as soon as possible, weeding out any unripe offerings and removing the fruit of the cherry to reveal the actual bean. Two methods are used: Dry Method, a traditional inexpensive process where beans are dried and hand-raked in the sun, or Wet Method, a machine-extracting practice that uses specific equipment and substantial amounts of water to ensure that the qualities of the coffee beans are better preserved.
A good roasting
The beans are then sorted further to become raw ‘green’ coffee, the flavoured aroma is brought to life by the roasting process, the final stage prior to packaging. Whilst it varies from region to region, light roasts are designed to produce a mild taste, medium roasts give a well-rounded rich flavour and aroma, and dark roasts provide a strong-bodied and more intense flavour, which can provide a bitter aftertaste if the coffee beans are not of high quality.
The best bit
We are passionate about coffee at Strong Vend and believe that our bean to cup coffee machines are the best way to grab great coffee, without having to even leave your office building. Our machines are filled with whole, freshly roasted beans to give you a clean, aromatic cup of coffee, rather than the more synthetic taste of ground ‘pod’ filled machines. If you want to give your team access to consistently brilliant coffee, then check out our coffee vending machines for more information.