Where Does the Coffee Bean Come From?
A coffee bean comes from the center of the coffee plant's cherry (fruit), and is the seed of the plant.
Beneath the coffee cherry's outer skin is the fruity pulp, beneath which is the silverskin, a fine, extremely thin layer of skin that surrounds and adheres tightly to the coffee bean.
Coffee Harvesting and Processing - Dry and Wet Processing
After the coffee cherry is harvested, the coffee bean is processed by either dry processing, wet processing, pulped natural processing, or semi-washed processing.
Dry processing involves drying the coffee cherry (fruit) in the sun for a period of time and then raking and turning the coffee cherry repeatedly until it is generally free of any dried fruit.
Wet processing is a method of getting the parchment off by first removing the pulp from the coffee bean in the process called pulping. Then the mucilage is removed through fermentation and finally the beans are dried, either in the sunlight or using forced-air drying.
Green Coffee Beans
Each method of coffee processing has its own taste and aroma implications, yet in both cases the end result is green coffee beans with a moisture content of about 10.5%.
After processing, and before the coffee beans are roasted they are known as green coffee beans, though the color is typically more of a bluish-green.
Peaberry Coffee Beans
About 93 to 99% of all coffee cherry encase two half-beans. When there is just one whole coffee bean in the coffee cherry it is known as peaberry.
Valued for their robust flavor, peaberry are the rarest type of coffee beans and have a higher density than non-peaberry coffee beans because they're able to absorb all nutrients within the coffee cherry. Coffee brewed from peaberry is known to have a smooth consistency and rich aroma, but is more difficult to roast because the larger size means less even heat distribution.
Coffee Bean Varietals
Coffee plant varieties are derived either through natural selection or through selective breeding for specific genetic traits, resulting in distinct genetic subspecies of the main coffee species (e.g., Arabica, Robusta, Canephora, and Liberica).
Different varietals (cultivars) have distinct flavors, body (mouthfeel), and other basic coffee characteristics (e.g., acidity, sweetness/bitterness, and aftertaste/finish) as well as varying amounts of caffeine.
Variations in cultivars likely reflect the particular region where the coffee was grown, including its climate, soil, and other regional factors (e.g. average amount of sunlight; altitude, etc.), and also how the coffee was harvested and processed, producing distinctive characteristics.
From the Coffee Farmer's Fields to Your Kitchen Table - Premium Gourmet Coffee
Learn about coffee harvesting and processing, coffee grading and roasting, coffee grinding and packaging, coffee storing, brewing, and all about the coffee beverage itself including Espresso.
Scholars of the Revered Beans will like the Coffee Terms and the World's Best History of Coffee.
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