Coffee trip: from a plantation to your coffee shop
One of the most important parts of your online barista training is learning about coffee and coffee beans itself. Coffee is the world’s most widely consumed beverages. It’s also the core of your coffee business and work.
Various factors impact how the coffee in your cup tastes: from the origin of the coffee tree itself to the processing and brewing method. Location, picking and roasting also give different tasting profiles to your coffee.
There are two main species of a coffee tree: arabica and robusta. Arabica produces nearly all of the world’s finest coffee, while robusta produces heavy-bodies but neutral tasting coffee used in various blends.
There’s also a number of hybrid varietals. Some farmers can have over 15 different coffee varietals at their farm, while others are dedicated to only one type of tree.
Arabica coffee flourishes in tropical climate in altitudes between 2000 and 7000 feet. Coffee plants should receive plentiful rain while the fruit is forming and plentiful sun during the time the fruit gets ripe. Higher altitudes slow the development of the coffee fruit. Such coffee plants have denser and harder bean, which display more acid flavor characteristics.
Like all other plants coffee trees can suffer from leaf rust. This can be a real tragedy for coffee farmers and lead to the loss of harvest.
Usually one tree produces about one pound of green coffee beans. Coffee cherries are picked 3-4 times during harvest. Only ripe juicy fruits can reveal a full potential of a coffee varietal. There are always green and overripe fruits on the same branch with ripe fruits. That’s why the hand-picked coffee is considered to be the best.
A coffee fruit has to go a long way to become a coffee bean. The processing of a coffee bean includes stripping the fruit away from a coffee beans and then drying it out. Mistakes in processing can affect coffee flavor.
- Dry method is the oldest way to process coffee. The fruit is picked and immediately put in the sun to dry. The flesh of the fruit becomes dry and black and later removed by machines. Many of them serve as blend fillers but the some of them rank as the world’s finest, for example Ethiopia Harrar, Yemen Mocha and Brazil best dry processed coffees.
- Wet method is the most common way of coffee processing. The fruit is removed before the coffee is dried. Most specialty coffees are wet processed.
In the wet method the fruit is separated by density in streams of running water. Pulping machines squeeze the ripe fruit, after this the fresh beans sit in their own juices for 12-48 hours.
Then the beans are washed again and sorted by weight. After the beans are dried out their parchment skin is removed by machines. Then the seeds run through vibrating screens. The larger beans are separated from others. After this the beans are subject to another screening by density.
Very often color sorting is used, which means the final selection by hand and eye.
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