Did you know that coffee actually comes from a cherry?
That’s right, the dark coffee bean that produces your morning drink, actually began it’s life as a red coffee cherry. Coffee is grown in a region known as the “bean belt”. Coffee is a very picky plant and likes specific kinds of weather to grow and flourish. It grows best in tropical regions around the middle of the planet and near the equator in countries such as Brazil, Ethiopia, Mexico Guatemala and more. It takes about three to four years for a coffee plant to mature and produce fruit that is ready to be turned into a coffee bean. However each tree only produces enough coffee cherries to for one to one and a half pounds of roasted cherries. One pound of green coffee equals about 12 ounces of roasted coffee.
There are two types of coffee plans, Arabica and Robusta. The Arabica coffee plant is the most common type and about 80 percent of all coffee comes from the Arabica plant type with different varietals based on the location it is grown. South America accounts for about 45 percent of all coffee exports and most of this coffee comes from Brazil! In fact much of what Blue Donkey uses is from Brazil.
Once the coffee cherry is ripe, it is hand picked by the farmers who look for the ripe cherries to gather. After the cherries are picked they must be processed quickly so that they won’t spoil. Coffee cherries can go through two different process to go from cherry to bean. Coffee is either wet or dry processed. Wet processed coffee is run through a machine that removes the pulp and skin from the coffee cherry leaving only the bean and parchment skin. Dry process is when the cherries are spread out in the sun to dry. Farmers must keep an eye on the cherries as this can take several weeks and the cherries must be raked and turned so that they dry as evenly as possible.
Once the coffee bean is dry it goes through several more steps as it goes from cherry to the green bean that finally gets roasted!
Written Lydia Watson