The process of bringing coffee into your cup
The plant from which we get coffee beans is an evergreen shrub belonging to the Rubiaceae family, genus Coffea. The most widely grown species are known as Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta.
These two main species of coffee can be distinguished by their appearance (arabica is flat, long, oval, green, and has a sinuous groove, whereas robusta is round and brown with a sinuous groove, and by their original habitats (arabica comes from east Africa, and robusta from west Africa.
There are three ways in which coffee is harvested:
1) Picking: the “cherries” of the coffee plant are first handpicked. This is a painstaking and expensive method for picking, but if offers the highest standard in quality.
2) Mechanical harvesting: the cherries can be harvested mechanically – making the process faster and cheaper – but the quality of the result will be lesser than with the handpicked cherries.
3) Stripping: this method is also faster and cheaper than handpicking, but it represents the lowest quality result of all three methods because this one strips all of the fruits regardless of how ripe they are, meaning you end up with a mixture of cherries at various levels of ripeness.
Once these cherries have been harvested, they are then processed in order to get at the green coffee bean.
There are also three methods of processing the cherries to obtain the green bean:
1) The wet method
Coffee treated with this method is also known as “washed”, and it is usually the highest quality Arabica coffee that is treated using this method. Because this method is only used on ripe fruits, it generally goes hand in hand with handpicked cherries so that they can be picked out at their optimal ripeness.
This method is also a slow and costly one, which involves soaking the cherries in water for 16-36 hours to make them swell and soften. The outer flesh is then removed by a machine, and then the cherries are once again left to ferment in water for another 12-36 hours, allowing any remaining viscous substance to separate from the bean.
The beans are then washed to remove any leftover impurities, and the ripest of the beans can be picked out at this point as well as they will be heavier. At this point the beans are dried in the sun for up to 3 weeks, and then finally are scoured one more time to remove the final layer surrounding the coffee bean. At this point the green beans are finally ready to be packaged and sold to a roaster.
2) The dry method
Coffee treated with this method is also known as “natural”, and is quicker, easier, and less costly than the wet method. With this method the cherries are simply laid out in the sun to dry for 3-4 weeks, being raked and turned periodically to ensure an even drying.
The dry cherries are then peeled, stripping the bean of it’s outer layer all at once. Although this method is much simpler than the wet method, the beans will lose some of their aroma, and some of the sugary substance of the outer pulp will pass into the bean. Accordingly “natural” coffee will be sweeter and less aromatic than “washed” coffee.
3) The semi-dry method
This method falls somewhere in between the two others, and when done successfully is able to achieve a balance between the coffee’s acidity and body. To achieve this, the ripe cherries are separated from the unripe ones by using a the minimum amount of water.
Next, the pulp is removed mechanically and the coffee bean – still covered by some wet mucilage – is laid out to dry. This allows the bean to be less affected by the sweetness of the pulp during drying.
Pierro commercial coffee machines are an Australian owned company manufacturing commercial coffee machines specifically designed for the Australian coffee industry.
If you are looking to buy or rent a coffee machine for your work environment which is simple to use and produces 100% pure espresso then our Pierro corporate coffee machine range is perfect for you.
For more information on The Pierro coffee machine range, for purchase or rental, please contact us direct or feel free to visit our Sydney head office and showroom at 8 – 12 Robert Street, Rozelle NSW 2039.