From Seed To Cup - All You Need To Know About The Coffee Making Process

Coffee is not only a drink; preparing a perfect blend of coffee is an art. Coffee aficionados begin their day with coffee and end their day with the same. Recently in India, traditionally a tea-drinking country, the cafe culture has boosted coffee consumption, especially among the urban youths. Just the aroma of coffee is enough to awaken instantly. It takes a lot of time and effort to plant coffee until it reaches different areas of the world. With the rise in speciality and signature coffee roasts available at cafes, everybody is keen to know what goes inside the perfect blend of coffee? What makes coffee a unique experience? Here we will tell you all about the coffee-making process.

How Is Coffee Made?

Coffee is ideally planted in the rainy season when the soil and environment have a lot of water. The region where coffee plantations are is known as bean belts between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. Coffee production happens in higher altitudes in the southern part of India. Brazil is the largest exporter of coffee in the world. There are two types of coffee plants producing two varieties of coffee blends, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica roast has less caffeine content than the robusta variety. However, Arabica is the most extensively grown variety and requires lesser temperature than robusta variety.

Planting the Seed

How are coffee beans made? Coffee beans are roasted and then ground to make coffee. Much care goes into coffee plantations from an ideal bed of moist soil, shaded nurseries, and frequent watering to create perfect seedlings. These seedlings are kept safe till they grow strong enough to move to a permanent location. In the beginning, adequate water supply or rains are required for coffee plant growth.

Harvesting and Picking

Coffee production takes about 4-5 years. Coffee plants bear fruit known as coffee cherry, the first seed that grows and is processed to make coffee powder. Initially, the coffee cherry is green in color that gradually turns bright red in due course. These are then hand-picked or mechanically picked. Manual hand-picking is a labor-intensive process to ensure that only ripe cherries are picked, making this variety more expensive. Coffee is picked or harvested in two ways.

1. Selective picking

In this method, expert farmers pick only ripe red coffee berries and let unripe berries stay on the plant. Every 10 days, these farmers rotate in coffee plantations and carefully handpick those perfectly ripe coffee cherries. This method is time and labour intensive and used to pick the highest grade coffee beans and Arabica beans. Do you know, each day, 100-200 pounds of coffee cherries are harvested. Then ground to produce around 10-20 pounds of coffee in a day. Can you see how much labor goes into creating your perfect blend?

2. Stripping

Here, all cherries are picked, either through a machine or hand, irrespective of whether they are ripe or not. It is generally practiced in regions of flat topography like Brazil, where devices are employed to strip the coffee plants and extract beans.

Sorting and Selecting

This step processes the coffee cherries or beans. Coffee processing employs two techniques.

1. Dry Processing

In this technique, coffee cherries are left out in open sunlight for 20-30 days so that the moisture content goes as low as 11%. This method is employed in water-scarce regions. Throughout the day, coffee beans are racked multiple times to dry evenly and not ferment. After all, beans get dry, they turn brittle and dark, and the skin becomes loose and easy to remove.

2. Wet Processing

It is a newer method of removing the pulp from coffee beans using water. It helps separate overripe and unripe cherries. After passing coffee beans through water channels, all the beans are pushed into pulping machines to separate skin and pulp. This whole process creates coffee mucilage which is a sticky part of the coffee bean. Natural enzymes then digest this mucilage, and after that, coffee regains its original flavour as before the processing. All the beans are then dried in the sun or mechanically for 24-48 hours. Right after this process, sorting and selection of coffee beans happen. At this stage, coffee is known as parchment coffee.

Pulping the Cherries

This method produces sweet or honey-like coffee. In this method, mucilage is not removed as in wet processing. The mucilage layer is sweet, providing sweetness to those coffee beans. It was first practiced in Brazil, which produces famous honey coffee across the world. However, this coffee is made in areas with less humidity, as it is of utmost importance to dry the coffee beans as soon as they are processed.

Fermenting

Coffee beans are fermented to remove the parenchymal layer of mucilage. But do you know, one particular type of coffee fermentation occurs inside a unique cat-like animal called Kopi Luwak or Cat poop coffee? This process of coffee cherries fermentation occurs inside the belly of a cat-like animal called the Asian palm civet. Its feces or poop is collected for making a unique, excellent coffee. Don't fret much as these beans undergo heavy cleansing before getting roasted. Kopi Luwak is known to be easily digestible and is less acidic.

Drying

After fermentation, all the coffee beans are thoroughly dried under the sun or through mechanical heating to reduce moisture content. Drying is carefully done to prevent the premature fermentation of the coffee beans.

Storing

After the drying process, all the coffee beans are carefully packed into air-tight containers before being sent for milling. Storage is as essential as milling as you don't want to ferment or lose the aroma of the coffee bean before the grinding process.

Milling

After the parchment coffee, coffee beans are hulled or milled, and all the husks or three layers, namely exocarp, endocarp, and mesocarp, are removed to get the coffee beans. Some producers also employ polishing to smoothen the beans further. However, there is not a vast difference in the coffee beans that are only hulled and polished. However, polished beans are considered of better quality than unpolished ones.

Grading

After the milling and polishing process, grading of coffee beans takes place. The beans are examined for colour and defects, and after that, flawed beans are removed. This method is laborious and can take several hours. Sorting is also done pneumatically using an air jet to separate the light from the heavy beans. The beans are then put through a series of screens with holes that can pass through coffee beans of a specific size. The coffee beans are graded on a scale of one to ten.

Distributing

At the end of the grading process, only the beans of the highest quality are distributed for sale to markets. In some countries, the lower quality beans are not discarded; instead, they are taken for further processing and sold as low-quality coffee.

Roasting

It is also called pyrolysis, and this is the stage where the distinct aromatic flavor of coffee births.

Till now, what you have is called green coffee. It is also relished these days, just like green tea. Now, these unroasted green beans are roasted at the temperature of 550F while being turned continuously to avoid burning beans. Now, here is when coffee starts to develop its particular roasting smell. Once the beans reach a temperature of 400F, the ‘first crack’ occurs while the coffee beans increase in size and start turning light brown. As the temperature continues to rise, the color changes to medium brown, and its fragrant oil (caffeoyl) begins to appear.

Three types of roasts are created in this process.

1. Light roast

Light roast is also called cinnamon roast and has dry pale-looking beans. It is the first crack roast where the beans have just started to turn brown.

2. Medium roast

Medium roast is roasted almost till the second crack and has a bit of sweetness due to caramelization. It has no oil covering.

3. Dark roast

Dark roast is a charred and darkest form of roasted coffee and develops in a second crack. It also has oil covering it with a bitter smokey taste. If you like a bitter smokey-tasting coffee, this is the roast for you. Examples are Vietnamese, Italian espresso.

At SLAY, we have three signature coffee blends of Arabica, Robusta, and Mix of Arabica and Robusta.

Slay Signature 100% Arabica coffee has a citrus undertaste.

Slay X is India’s strongest coffee with 100% Robusta with five times more caffeine than other blends.

Slay Madras Mud Blend is an authentic filter coffee with caramelized undertones and a blend of Arabica and Robusta.

Packaging

Post roasting, all types of roasts are packed into airtight bags or stored in air-tight containers to prevent oxidation and exposure to moisture. Packaging is the main factor that retains the taste of the coffee beans till it reaches your cup.

Grinding

Grinding is the coffee-making process that extracts the best out of coffee beans. The size of the grind determines the under extraction and over-extraction of the coffee flavour from the roast. Under extracted coffee tastes bland, whereas over-extracted coffee will be very bitter. Coarse grinds are used for french press, filter coffee, and cold brews, whereas finely grounded roasts are ideal for Espresso and Turkish coffee.

Brewing

Another most critical factor determines the final taste of the coffee. The drip system takes around 5 minutes, and if you prepare a french press, the contact with water should be about 2-4 minutes. Espresso only takes approximately 20-30 seconds to prepare, whereas a cold brew takes around 12 hours or is kept overnight to extract the best flavor out of the grinds.

Drinking and Enjoying

Now the energy elixir is ready for consumption and to gratify your senses. Consume coffee as soon as brewed, as, after some time, coffee begins to lose its aroma and taste.

A lot of effort goes into creating your perfect blend of coffee. What you see in the cafes is far less than what goes into the entire coffee ready-to-drink making process. This whole journey from seed to cup is exhausting but worth an espresso shot.

At SLAY, we want to give you the best of the gourmet coffee experience. From sourcing the best coffee beans to serving them freshly, we have it all covered. Our roasts are fresh, not more than 15 days old. To make your coffee a lifetime experience, we train our baristas in our SLAYCAD to coffee brew as craftsmen. Also, the pocket-friendly prices make it accessible so that each may experience the gourmet experience of a perfect cup without thinking twice about the money.

Written by DropKaffe Food & Beverages Pvt Ltd