(Dillon letting you know it’s time for your daily dose of 16ozDays content)
Hi there Coffee Addicts and happy Sunday! This week we’ve spent lots of time planning our anniversary party and drinking way too much coffee. This got us wondering: we, the 16ozDays team, have the gift of working in the coffee industry every day, but not all of you are the same. What do we all really know about our coffee and the process it takes to end up in our cup? For most, the journey starts and ends inside a cafe, drinking your cup of joe. But really, that’s the very last point in a long, time consuming, rigorous, and laborious feat. Today, we will be taking you on a coffee journey, all the way from the ground to your cup.
Stage 1: Planting and Growing
(Growing coffee cherries)
Planting trees can be precarious. Their health is a pertinent aspect of a farm’s future, as these trees can live and produce for up to 80 years. Coffee farms exist most predominantly in warmer, wetter locations such as parts of Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (The Roasterie). The coffee bean inself, unprocessed, is the seed for these trees.
Stage 2: Harvesting
(Hand harvesting ripe cherries)
Once trees have matured and produced coffee cherries, the name for unpicked and unprocessed coffee beans, it’s time to harvest. This is done mostly by hand by harvesters on coffee farms, some of whom can pick up to 200 lbs of coffee cherries a day, roughly 40 lbs of coffee beans (The Roasterie). Only in some flatter locations can this process be done by picking machines.
According to the NCA, there are two main styles of picking: selective and strip picking. Strip picking refers to when every single cherry is picked, selective picking is when only the ripe cherries are picked and harvesters rotate between trees to ensure the most fruitful and pure harvest.
Stage 3: Processing and Drying
(By hand coffee processing)
Processing coffee cherries is done via two main methods: wet and dry. In the dry process, cherries are spread out over large areas to dry in the sun until reaching a moisture level of 11% (NCA). The wet process is when only certain parts of the pulp of the coffee cherry are removed before drying. There are several different styles of this process including washed, honey pulped, anaerobic, carbonic maceration, and more (Paulig). If done by a wet process, cherries are then dried to the same 11% moisture content.
Stage 4: Milling
(Ready to export beans)
Depending on the type of processing and drying the coffee cherries have gone through, some still have the parchment, a thin layer of skin, intact. If so, these beans go through a hulling and polishing process to remove the parchment and remove any remaining skin through a mechanical process (NCA).
Stage 5: Exporting
(Exporting via cargo shipments)
At this stage, the dried coffee beans are now ready to be graded and sorted based on their quality, weight, region, and processing procedures. At this stage, the beans are referred to as green coffee, unroasted but dried beans. They then are exported around the world from farms to exporters or roasteries.
Stage 7: Roasting
(Coffee beans mid roasting process)
At this stage, beans are first evaluated in a series of cuppings by qualified tasters. A small amount of green coffee is roasted and then sampled. The beans are ranked in terms of quality and flavor profile (NCA). Next, it’s sent to roasteries to be finished. This can be done in huge warehouse settings or by individual cafes who roast their own beans. The green coffee is roasted to around 550 degrees fahrenheit. This is the process that truly finalizes the flavors we experience in what we drink.
Stage 8: Coming to Your Cup
(Ready to be ground beans)
Last but not least, beans are ground and brewed; ready for you to drink. Different roasting processes produce different coffee for different settings, this means your espresso is roasted differently than your pourover, etc. All in all, this is by far the shortest part of the beans lifespan, the whole journey taking over 4 years in some cases.
There you have it, a coffee beans journey from ground to cup. There is so much more that we didn’t even cover; for more details we recommend checking out this article by the NCA: 10 Steps from Seed to Cup. We hope that by knowing a little bit more about the coffee journey, we can all have a little more appreciation for what ends up in our mugs, with all the love, hard work, and time put into every stage.
Like we said in the beginning of this post, we’ve got our two year anniversary party coming up and would love to see you all there. It will be taking place at SK Coffee in St. Paul, one of our favorite cafes who also roast some amazing coffee. Part of this event will even be a 30 minute roasting session with owner Sam, during which you can learn even more about this amazing, artistic process. If you’re interested, check out our page: 16ozDays 2 Year Anniversary!
In the meantime, if you’re looking for some awesome spots to enjoy some delicious coffee, check out our most recent post: 7 Minneapolis Cafes with Amazing Patios. We hope you enjoy this lovely week ahead and hope to meet you all soon at our 2 year anniversary party! For now, drink some good coffee and don’t forget to tip your barista.