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The various stages in the processing of coffee

The 4 stages in the journey of a coffee bean.

The 4 stages in the journey of a coffee bean.

The coffee bean at the wet parchment stage. Green coffee beans, ready for shipping.

  1. Although it is still widely debated, certain types of green coffee are believed to improve with age; especially those that are valued for their low acidity, such as coffees from Indonesia or India.
  2. Coffee bean storage Green coffee stored in bags Green coffee is usually transported in jute bags or woven poly bags.
  3. In machine-assisted wet processing, fermentation is not used to separate the bean from the remainder of the pulp; rather, this is done through mechanical scrubbing. Some coffee is dried on large raised tables where the coffee is turned by hand.
  4. This can either be done by machine or by hand.

Roasted coffee beans, ready for grinding and brewing. These are photos I took on my trip to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica earlier this year.

The first photo shows two beans fresh from the coffee cherry. Most cherries contain two coffee beans which are, of course, the seeds of the coffee tree. These are called Peaberry coffee beans.

  • The pulping is done by a machine which squeezes the cherries between fixed and moving surfaces;
  • Hence, the coffee produced by this method is usually regarded as being of better quality and commands higher prices;
  • Because the pulping is done by mechanical means it normally leaves some residual flesh as well as the sticky mucilage adhering to the parchment surrounding the beans.

Once the cherries have been picked, and the flesh removed, the coffee beans are described as "wet parchment". This is what you see in the second photo.

Coffee production

The wet parchment beans are spread out on huge concrete terraces to dry. This process takes several days. Once the parchment is dry the beans are put through a mill which rubs the parchment off the beans.

In fact, there are two layers of parchment that need taking off.

The six stages of coffee production

Once that is done you are left with the green coffee beans, which you can see in the third photo. The green coffee beans are graded and then put into sacks, ready for transportation to coffee-drinking countries around the world.

It is the fact that the green bean is so stable that allows for coffee to be stored, shipped and enjoyed throughout the world. The final stage in the journey of the coffee bean is roasting.

10 Steps from Seed to Cup

It is the roasting process that transforms the green bean into the brown coffee beans we all recognize in photo number four above. As you might imagine, a huge amount of work goes into the picking and processing of coffee beans through these four stages.

So next time you drink your favorite brew, give a thought to all the effort and expertise that went into bringing your coffee from the tree to your cup.