Many millions of people start their day with a hot cup of coffee, making it one of the most popular drinks in the world. There is a lot that goes into every cup of this delicious beverage. Have you ever considered the journey taken by the coffee beans you’re drinking to the cup? In this post, I’ll tell you more about the coffee-making process.
Whether you are a morning coffee person or need several doses of caffeine to get you through the day, understanding the complicated and intriguing process of producing coffee might increase your appreciation for the beverage.
Planting and Extracting the Beans
The process of planting and harvesting coffee beans is the first stage of a long process. Let’s start at the beginning. Coffee is an annual shrub that thrives in tropical and subtropical climates, with the bulk of coffee beans being produced in nations like Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. Farmers in these areas often hand-pick the fruits of the coffee plants, which is where the green beans are found. The green beans are then removed from the cherries during the next step in the process.
The coffee cherries go either through wet or dry processing. The “washed” method involves making sure the beans are washed, matured to clear off the shells, and then rinsed. High-quality, speciality coffee beans are often processed using as it highlights the true character of a single origin bean. The other method, known as “natural or dry”, preserves the unique tastes and smells of the coffee beans by letting them dry in the sunshine. This technique is often associated with lower quality Robusta beans as it can lead to inconsistent flavours. However, if done right, a processed natural coffee can bring out incredible cupping notes!
After processing, the beans are separated and rated based on their size, structure, and firmness. Specialty coffees are made using the finest beans, whereas commercial coffees are made with lower quality beans that are often blended together to get the best of all the beans they’ve combined for a unique taste.
If you’ve developed a palette for top-notch coffee and want to brew barista-style coffee at home, then you’ll want to make the best use of your beans and invest in equipment that is designed to give you the perfect cup. Coffee appliances and accessories from a trusted and reputable brand like SMEG, a premium Italian appliance brand, can help you achieve the perfect brew, every time.
After the sorting and grading process, the green beans go for roasting. The act of roasting is essential because it draws out the particular tastes and fragrances of the coffee beans. Hot temperatures are used to heat the beans, which causes them to swell and turn from a greenish shade of colour to a dark or light brown, with darker beans often being stronger with a slightly more acrid aftertaste that most connoisseurs have come to know and love. Oils are released from the beans during this roasting process, giving the coffee its distinctive fragrance and taste.
Coffee beans with the same origin, farm, processing and roasting still can give a variety of flavour profiles depending on the grind size and brewing method you use. Purchasing whole beans and grinding coffee yourself is by far the best approach as it assures a level of freshness that pre-ground coffee doesn’t provide. In order to get the most from your coffee, store the beans in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags and grind the beans yourself just before brewing.
Brewing is the last stage in the preparation of your perfect cup of coffee. There are several ways to achieve a good brew, including drip, French press, pour over, percolate (moka pot), and cold brewing. Each technique employs a distinct method and recipe, i.e. grind size, coffee/water ratio, brewing time, as well as water temperature, which can give the coffee a distinct flavour and level of strength.
Here are some of the most popular brewing methods people use:
Drip Coffee Maker
The basic concept behind drip brewing is to hold the coffee beans inside a filter while using hot water to release the tastes and smells from them. Electric drip coffee makers are very popular particularly in US and Nordic countries. A drip coffee maker heats the water inside the machine from a reservoir tank. The device then pours the hot water over coffee grounds, resulting in liquid dripping into the coffee carafe. The machine does all the work, meaning you have more time to get ready or do other tasks. The intensity and flavour of the coffee might vary depending on the length of time that hot water is in contact with the coffee, as well as the water’s temperature.
French press brewing involves soaking ground coffee in a carafe of hot water, typically for four minutes, before pushing the plunger down to filter the grounds from the prepared beverage. This approach promotes a more intensive extraction of tastes and fragrances by allowing the coffee to come into contact with the water for a longer duration of time.
Achieving the perfect pour over brew involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds held in place by a paper or metal filter in a pour over funnel, e.g. V60, Chemex, Origami or Kalita. The coffee’s taste and fragrance are extracted by the water as it drips through the grinds and into a carafe or mug. You have more control over the brew since you can modify the water’s temperature, the rate at which it is poured, and the size of the bean grind, which all combine for the perfect cup. Pour overs tend to have more flavours than regular drip coffee, since the process takes longer and the water has more time to pull the oils and flavours from the coffee ground.
From planting and gathering the beans to preparing the finished product, the production of coffee is a lengthy, intricate, and intriguing endeavour. There is a brewing technique and bean out there that is perfect for everyone, whether you choose a potent, full-bodied cup or a smoother, less bitter one.
So, the next time you enjoy a nice cup of coffee, consider the time and effort that went into each bean.