The production of coffee involves a series of processes. The aim is to convert the fruit of the coffee into the final product. The production takes place in countries that have the proper environment for the growth of coffee plants. Thereafter, the coffee exporters export the finished product into different countries for profit. The final product has different tastes due to the difference in the processes they go through.
Following processes are involved in producing coffee.
The coffee plant starts giving fruits after 3 to 4 years of plantation. These fruits ripen in around eight months. The farmers pick up the ripe fruits by hand for further processing. Hand-picking of fruits is prevalent in most countries. However, countries like Brazil use mechanized methods for picking fruits.
There are two methods of handpicking. The strip picking method involves picking up all the seeds regardless of whether they are ripe or not. On the other hand, selective picking is a method that involves picking the ripe seeds only. This takes more time as the laborer has to keep track of the seeds that is completely ripe.
The fruits are first immersed in water. This allows the unripe fruit to float in water whereas the ripe fruit sinks into it.
The skin of the ripe fruit is then removed by a wet process. Here, a machine presses the cherries in water. This process removes the majority of pulp from the beans. The remaining pulp requires further processing. It involves fermentation and washing technique. This process needs special attention that the beans do not develop any bad taste due to fermentation. The process may take around eight to thirty-six hours to complete. Thereafter, the beans need a proper wash. This process removes the layer of mucilage from the seeds.
Drying and Milling Of The Seeds
The seeds are then cleaned and allowed to dry. Here, many unwanted particles present in the seeds get removed by the process of winnowing. Particles not separated through winnowing are picked by hand.
A layer of coating still exists in the coffee seeds. For removing this, the milling process is used. It involves the following steps.
Hulling: All the pulp left in the wet process is removed in the hulling process with the help of machinery.
Polishing: Sometimes, there remains a silver skin on the seeds after the hulling process. This process helps in removing those skins.
Cleaning and sorting
The coffee seeds then pass through a series of machines. This process helps in removing the bad and unwanted particles present in the seeds. For achieving this, the seeds first pass through a blower. The powerful machine blows the seeds into the air and they fall at different distances based on their weights. The lighter seeds fall at a far distance. They are generally defective beans and unwanted particles. Whereas, the heavier ones fall close to the machine and are generally the fine seeds.
The sorted seeds then pass through a machine that shakes them and sorts them based on size. At last, the gravity separator shakes them on a tilted table. It leads the heavier beans to settle on one side while the lighter ones settle on another side of the table. The workers further sort these seeds based on color.
It is the process of categorizing the seeds on a different basis. The final taste that this coffee will provide, the altitude at which they were grown and the number of imperfections they contain may become some of the criteria for grading.
Decaffeination, Storage & Roasting
This is a process where coffee seeds interact with supercritical CO2. This absorbs most of the caffeine from the seeds. Alternatively, roasted coffee oil is added as a solvent to the coffee beans. The caffeine dissolves in the solvent and the coffee beans become free of caffeine.
After decaffeination, the seeds are packed in jute bags. Recent times have seen other ways of storing seeds. The green seeds are then roasted at different temperatures to give them different colors and shades.
After a series of the above processes, the coffee becomes ready to be sold in the market. These are then exported to the different parts of the world by the coffee exporters based on their demand in different countries.