How do you turn coffee fruit into coffee?
Discover the whole process of transformation of coffee cherries, up to the cup. Several steps are carried out in order to improve the coffee, before going to the cup. Transformation is a long process that requires good expertise and proper handling.
Picking and sorting
The fruits of the coffee tree are small green cherries which, when ripe, take on a bright red color. That's when they're sweet tasting and ready to pick. As they do not ripen at the same time, most coffees are still harvested by hand. Experienced pickers only pick ripe red cherries, so picking can take a few weeks. After harvest, the cherries must be processed and dried in order to be bagged and stored until roasting. The pulp and the mucilage of the cherry will have to be removed in order to release the famous coffee bean which hides inside! Over the years, farmers have developed different methods to dry coffee optimally.
Pulping and fermentation
Each estate and plantation uses its own process for picking fruit, but may use different pulping methods . Pulping is a process used to extract the coffee stones from the heart of the cherry. There are 3 methods (washed or semi-washed , natural and honey).
-The washed method with fermentation (wet process)
Once harvested, the cherries are taken to the factory to be sorted and processed through a series of steps. The first step is to submerge them in tubs filled with water so that the unripe cherries can float to the surface and be removed. Ripe cherries go through the pulping phase , which removes their skin and pulpy layer. The resulting grains are steeped in a fermentation tank for 8 to 30 hours to soften and remove their mucilage. The last step is to dry the grains mechanically or by spreading them out in the sun. Once finished, the beans are sorted, graded and packaged.
-The Semi-washed method
This process follows all the steps of the washed process, but at the fermentation stage, these do not contain water.
-The Natural method with pulp (dry process)
The cherries are picked when ripe from the tree and placed with their skin on, the coffee dries in this way for 15 to 20 days. It must be raked every day in order to obtain the ideal humidity level. This method consists of detaching the skin from the grain and saves water while preserving certain characteristics of the taste.
-The Honey method (dry and wet)
The cherries are pulped and dried without going through the fermentation stage in vats. The mucilage (honey) from the fruit adheres to the grain, adding characteristics of sweetness to the cup. Since the remaining flesh “caramelizes” when it dries in the sun, a lot of the sugar ends up in the grain.
- There are different levels to the honey method: white, yellow, red and black. These are determined by the amount of mucilage left on the grains.
- This method brings out mild, but sweeter tasting notes and a well-developed body.
As the coffee has gone through all these steps in order to remove the bean from the cherry, it must then be rinsed with plenty of water to rid them of impurities and remnants of mucilage. The drying of the grains can then begin and is done by exposing them to the sun and to the air either on concrete patios, or on " African beds ", a sort of fabric table allowing the air to circulate better. Workers stir the coffee beans regularly with a rake to ensure even drying. The grains will dry for 4 to 30 days depending on the method used.
Subsequently will be ready to be packed to travel to roasting factories around the world and our online store!
Good tasting 🍒☕