What is a coffee bean?

Having a bit of knowledge about the process of coffee is neat in having a connection to what makes your morning coffee so incredible. Use this information to boggle some minds and to stay connected to the hard work that our farmers are putting in on a yearly basis. 

 There are 5 layers to the coffee bean:

  1. Skin / Pulp: On the outside, the two coffee seeds are covered by a cherry-like skin. With the exception of dried-in-the-fruit or Natural Process coffee, this outer layer is removed within a few hours of harvest. In an edible cherry we might call this skin the “flesh”. Its also called the “pulp” and the machine to remove it is called a depulper.
  2. Mucilage: Beyond the skin lies the mucilage, a sticky, gluey substance surrounding each of the two seeds. Since it is so sticky and sugary, it is sometimes called Honey. (Mucilage is found in most fruit. It’s not unique to coffee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucilage)
  3. Parchment: After the mucilage, a layer of cellulose protects each of the coffee seeds. When dried, this layer looks and feels like parchment paper, hence the name.
  4. Silver skin: There is an even thinner layer that coats the seed. This layer is called the silver skin. This layer comes off during roasting. If you ever notice flakes in ground coffee, that is usually bits of silver skin or chaff that didn’t separate from the beans during the roast process.
  5. Seed / Coffee Bean: As you’ve already discovered, basically the coffee bean is one of the two seeds from inside the coffee cherry (Peaberries are an anomaly in which only one small, round seed formed inside the cherry. Usually, about five percent of all coffee is graded as a peaberry.) It is dried and infertile by time we receive it, ready to roast.

Hope that you have enjoyed the short lesson about what comprises the coffee bean. It is a really amazing fruit (yea, thats right!) and we are proud to bring you fresh, arabica coffee that is taken care of at each stage in its process! Don't forget to shop our coffees and let us know what you think! Read about the difference in process coffees here!


(adapted from the site: http://blog.seattlecoffeeworks.com/roastery/earth-honey-process/)