There may have been some instances in your life that while having a hot sip of your cup of coffee an idea came to your mind, how did this all happen? In other words, where did this coffee come from? To begin with, this entire coffee-making process is a careful combination of science, art, and heavy manual labour. So, let us begin our journey to learn how coffee travels from the farms of the rainforest to your coffee cup.
Growing Coffee In Plantations
To begin with, a coffee plant needs a tropical or subtropical climate to flourish and generally speaking areas within 1,000 miles of the equator are the best for this purpose. Don’t worry, elevation is of not that much importance, as you can grow coffee at sea level, going all the way up to 7,000 feet. And common farming equipment namely Mahindra Jivo plays a vital role when it comes to arranging the soil for this very job.
Coffee Plants Begin Their Lives In Nurseries
Coffee plants begin their life’s journey in nurseries where experts are present to manage the whole of this growing process. Additionally, there is a lot of science working up front in the soil, the food, water, and the amount of light that each plant gets in the early stages of its life. And once these coffee plants are 18 to 24 inches tall, the time is right to move them to the coffee farm, where they are kept 10 to 12 feet apart.
Furthermore, when we are talking about coffee harvesting from trees, it is a manual labour-intensive process, as there are no machines that can do this job. In other words, when it comes to harvesting coffee beans there is no alternative to human labour. As both farmers and their families along with fellow workers take along a huge basket and harvest each bean by hand. And they use equipment like Mahindra JIVO 365 to ferry these beans from the farm.
Additionally, in most cases (on a global scale), coffee farms are nearly five to seven acres in size, as any bigger farm than that will require an entire army of workers to harvest the beans. To be precise, natural harvesting is one of the most labour-intensive parts of the complete coffee growing process.
Post the hand-picking work of coffee beans, their depulping work must be complete within 24 hours or less. And in case you miss out on this time, there are greater chances that the coffee beans will taste somewhat rotten, in other words, things have gone out of hand. That is why a major segment of premium coffee growers come into the market with small batches, which makes the entire process easier to manage and provides you extra control when it comes to implementing quality control standards.
At this stage, all the coffee beans are shifted to huge tanks that are made up of wood, plastic or cement, and here they are left to ferment for a few hours to a few days. But the actual time varies, in other words, it is a trade secret for the majority of coffee farmers. And when the fermentation process is complete, these beans are removed from the fermentation vat after which they are washed.
Next in the line-up is the sorting process. There are mostly two techniques that farmers use during this process: by machine or by hand. During the machining process, a conveyor belt carries coffee beans beneath a camera, whose work is to throw out the defective beans with the help of a small burst of air.
Meanwhile, during the by-hand sorting process, a group of workers will take their positions beside the conveyor belt and visually inspect and remove any defective beans that come to their visual notice. Additionally, this manual labour procedure adds to the landing cost of the coffee, but also offers a lot of jobs to the female segment of our society in the process.
Roasting The Coffee Beans
This is the stage where the coffee gets into its original form. Additionally, the roasting part includes both art and science in equal quantities, as every coffee roaster has a method that is specific to them. They have come up with this method, with experience in roasting coffee beans, that is decades old. Also, roasting is the process that gives a coffee bean its flavour, which can be acidic to citric flavour, to adding several natural tastes namely chocolate or vanilla.
In all, the complete roasting process can be challenging, but worth the task. Furthermore, a major segment of coffee farmers deploys a tool whose industrial name is “Agtron roast analyzer”. This instrument is famous for accurately testing the classification of the roast from a scientific viewpoint. The point system that this machine uses ranges from 0.0 points (the darkest) to 100 points (the lightest). Besides, the ultimate purpose of roasting is to completely reveal the flavours of the bean.
When it comes to quality control, most coffee farms resort to the use of on-site laboratories. Here they collect samples of the coffee beans, the roast and the final coffee product itself and inspect their flavour, colour, size, density, imperfections and other features that affect their market value. To sum it up, the final goal is to do away with the poor quality batches of coffee and allow only the best quality coffee to make its way into the market from coffee farms.