The process of how coffee beans are picked and delivered to the United States is critical to maintaining incredible quality and taste. There are many steps that happen in between and we thought it would be exciting to provide a little insight into the coffee process. Coffee is a journey and each cup tells a specific story about that coffee bean and its global impact.
3,600 - 4,300 feet
Type of Plant
Our coffee cherries (as they're called from the coffee tree) can be either red, orange, or yellow in color. The cherries are ready to be picked when the seeds are able to easily be popped out of the cherry skin and into your hand. Waiting until the right time for the picking is crucial to achieving the maximum flavor for the coffee.
After the cherries are collected, the next step is to take the cherries to the pulping station. As the cherries run through the machine, metal blades remove the beans and separate them from the cherry. The skin and remainder of the cherry can then be used for composting into the hillsides or used as alternative sources of feed for livestock.
Now it's time for the beans to be cleaned and washed (on our honey process, the beans are not cleaned but rather skip straight to the drying stage of the process). This is done by moving the beans into tanks of water. The washing process often happens up to seven times. At this stage, smaller beans that may have defects are removed as they float to the service since they don’t have the density to sink. Quality and grading are done throughout much of the process to ensure high quality.
After rinsing, the seeds will remain in tanks or containers for approximately one to two days to ferment. This is done in order to clean the bean. The length of time that the beans stay fermenting depends on the temperature outside, the desired profile for the bean, as well as how thickness of the mucilage layer. The process allows for certain bacteria to take over and do its natural thing.
You have probably seen pictures of our beans on outdoor bamboo drying beds. This is where the beans are not laid out in a thin layer as to use the sun to naturally dry the beans. The beans are raked and rotated to create an even amount of drying around the entire bean. The bamboo allows for an even amount of airflow to be present on top and bottom of the bean resulting in an equal distribution of air, which is why they beans are typically on raised beds. The end result of this process is typically referred to as the bean is in the “parchment” stage. In this stage, the beans can be stored for a little while longer than in the green and ready to roast stage.
The beans are then transferred to a hulling machine where the parchment is removed. The machines then take the green bean out of the shell and grade it into two separate qualities: Grade A and Grade B. There are sizing sheets that allow the smaller beans to slip through and are placed in a separate container than Grade A beans. The parchment is also kept to be utilized as compost and typically is taken back up to the hills to be placed at the root of the coffee tree. Any damaged or irregularly shaped beans that made it through the previous checks are filtered out at this stage to ensure those buying our Grade A products are getting nothing but the best. There are about 50 or so individuals that grade at this stage before sent to the grading machine for a final size grade.