What is Coffee?
Coffee is a brewed beverage prepared from roasted coffee beans that grow inside coffee cherries found on coffee trees. The scientific name of the coffee plant is ‘Coffea arabica,’ and the coffee cherry is known as ‘the coffee fruit.’ The coffee fruit has a fleshy outer layer covering the coffee bean. This is removed before roasting the beans. Coffee beans are often confused with legumes like soybeans, peas, green beans, and other garden crops.
The Origin of Coffee Plants
Coffee plants thrive well in tropical climates that are rich with sunlight, which is why coffee farms are found mostly in Central America and South America. However, these plants are also grown in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world, making coffee beans one of the most traded commodities worldwide.
Do Coffee Beans Grow on Trees?
A common misconception is that coffee grows on trees. That’s not exactly true because the tree only provides the necessary conditions for growing coffee beans. Coffee trees are actually bushes of more than 1 meter in height and much younger than most other fruit-bearing trees. It takes about four to five years before a coffee tree starts producing coffee cherries.
What Are Coffee Cherries?
Coffee cherries, the fruit of the coffee plant, are bright red in color when ripe. They are oval-shaped and about 1 cm long. The outer layer of the coffee cherry is thick and fleshy with a matte finish.
Inside the outer layer lies a thin skin and a delicate pulp, which can either be white or pink in color. This contains the coffee bean that is covered by a parchment shell. The coffee beans are always extracted from the cherries using water.
Coffee cherry is another name for the fruit produced by a coffee tree. It has a bright red color, and it encloses two or three coffee beans inside of it. Coffee cherries are high in sugar.
Once coffee cherries are ripe, they will fall from the tree, and the coffee beans inside of them will be ready for roasting and grinding to make your favorite beverage.
What Do Coffee Beans Look Like?
A coffee bean is an oval-shaped seed that has a shiny outer coating. Coffee beans come from the coffee cherries produced by its plant. The color of coffee beans can vary from greenish to yellow, orange, brown, or black. The color of the coffee beans is an indication of their flavor. The darker roasted coffee bean has a stronger flavor, whereas lighter roasted coffee beans have a milder taste.
Are Coffee Beans Legumes?
Coffee beans are not legumes. Legumes are a type of plant that produces seeds in pods, such as kidney beans or peas. Coffee is actually a fruit from the coffee tree, and those fruits grow surrounding the coffee beans, which you grind to make your favorite beverage.
Are Coffee Beans Seeds?
Coffee beans are not seeds either. Seeds are meant for the reproduction of life, and therefore one tree can produce hundreds of seeds. On the other hand, coffee beans are actually an area of the coffee cherry that contains two or three coffee beans. These coffee beans cannot reproduce, so each plant only produces a certain number of coffee beans per year.
What coffee Is in Actuality?
Coffee is actually a fruit and not a legume or seed. Coffee fruits, also known as coffee cherries, surround the coffee beans inside of them, and they are high in sugar – perfect for animals looking for food sources. When coffee cherries are ripe, they will fall from the tree, and the coffee beans will be ready for roasting and grinding processes.
Are Coffee Beans Sweet?
Coffee is not sweet on its own, but the process of making a coffee beverage will emit a slightly sweet taste. Coffee cherries, where the coffee beans are found, have a high sugar content which means that any part of it – the pulp, the skin, the coffee cherry – can have a sweet taste.
Which Countries Produce Coffee?
Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia are the top three countries where most of the world’s coffee is grown. These countries account for 70% of the coffee production around the world. In addition, these countries trade coffee worldwide.
The Harvesting Process of Coffee Beans
The harvesting of coffee cherries follows a very systematic procedure, ensuring efficient yield and better quality of coffee beans. As mentioned earlier, coffee plants take four to five years before producing any cherries. On average, a coffee tree produces about 1 kg of cherries every year.
The first step of harvesting coffee is to pick the coffee cherries from the branches. Next, these cherries are put in fermentation tanks to remove the outer fleshy layer and loosen the sticky pulp. After this process, the remaining husks or dried pulp is removed from the coffee beans – a process called dry milling.
When is Coffee Harvested?
Just like wine grapes, the harvesting of coffee cherries begins with the ripest cherries first. This ensures that only perfectly ripe coffee cherries are picked and processed.
The time of harvest depends on a number of factors, including climate conditions in a certain region, altitude, and soil fertility.
As a general rule, coffee is harvested between November and March in the Northern Hemisphere and between May and September in the Southern Hemisphere.
What Happens after Coffee is Harvested?
When coffee producers pick cherries from the branches of the coffee tree, they then transport them to a wet mill where they pulp or depulped them. This process loosens the husks or dried pulp, which is removed to reveal the coffee beans underneath.
Then workers wash coffee beans with clean water. This helps remove any remaining fruit particles and make sure no contaminants get mixed in with the coffee beans.
The Drying Process of Coffee
The next step of coffee processing involves drying the fermented coffee cherries to a optimal moisture content for storage and transportation. Coffee beans must be dried within 12 hours because they will begin to germinate after this period.
Drying is done using natural sunlight – a process called sun drying – or by using mechanical dryers. Sun-drying allows for uniform and consistent quality of coffee beans but is usually limited to countries where the climate supports this method. For countries with less sunny days, such as those found in Europe, mechanical dryers are preferred.
What Happens after Coffee Beans Are Dried?
After the drying process of coffee beans, coffee producers store them properly. The ideal temperature for storing coffee is 15°C with a relative humidity of about 60%. They store coffee in airtight containers that can withstand changes in temperature and humidity without affecting the quality of the beans. If you do not store coffee seeds correctly, they will begin to lose their flavor within six months after drying.
The Wet Process of Coffee
Many coffee producers choose dry processing over wet processing because it requires less labor and is, therefore, less expensive. However, wet processing is widely used because it preserves more of the coffee cherry’s original aroma.
After the coffee beans are depulped or removed from their husks, they are put into tanks of clean water where they will soak for 12 to 48 hours depending on how much mucilage – a sticky pulp covering each coffee bean – needs to be removed.
When the coffee is soaking, fermentation begins with mucilage removal, which helps improve the taste of coffee beans. After fermenting, workers wash coffee beans in running water or in a tank of clean water.
This process is repeated until all mucilage has been removed from the coffee beans and they are clean.
Potential Health Benefits of Coffee:
-One of the most important benefits of coffee beans – whether these are green coffee beans or roasted ones – is their ability to help people lose weight and improve their overall health.
-Coffee has a high amount of anti-oxidants which helps combat free radicals present in the body. Free radicals are the number one cause of aging and other health complications, so drinking coffee regularly can also help you live longer!
-The caffeine content in coffee beans helps boost metabolism by about 4-5%, which is actually pretty significant considering that some people drink five or more cups per day.
-The caffeine content in coffee beans also helps in providing a nice energy boost to increase productivity during the day.
Coffee Beans – In a Nutshell
Coffee beans are not seeds or legumes. They actually come from coffee cherries surrounding the coffee beans inside them. Coffee cherries are high in sugar content and can be eaten by animals looking for food sources.
Once coffee cherries are ripe, they become soft and sweet – perfect for harvesting the coffee beans inside of the coffee cherries. Coffee beans are popular for their anti-oxidant abilities as well as their high caffeine content which helps people lose weight, increase stamina and boost metabolism.