The Journey Of Your Coffee
More than just a pick-me-up, the coffee in your mug each morning is actually the end product of a process that starts from the ground up. Long before your coffee is roasted and brewed, it has gone through a lengthy process of seed selection, cultivation, and preparation – all of which incorporates a number of different factors.
For single producer coffees, like those sourced by Farm to Roast, there is a more uniform process involved in the production than that of your run-of-the-mill coffees. In order to consider the critical impact of this process on the quality of the final product, let’s take a step back to shed some light on this lengthy but rewarding journey.
Though many farmers don’t have much choice in the matter, the location of a coffee farm has a residual effect on the flavor profile of the coffee after it is roasted. For instance, when grown in two different locales, the same seed will produce very different coffee beans.
Every piece of land is different. Some farms are nestled in humid rainforests, while others are enriched by the volcanic ash of nearby mountains. Other farms are close to lakes, and some are surrounded by other types of fruit orchards. Changes in altitude can also have an impact on the final coffee product. For example, coffee beans that are grown at higher altitudes produce harder, denser beans with a higher concentration of sugar due to the harsh growing conditions that slow the maturation process of the plant.
The Farming Choices
Before the coffee can be grown, the farmer must decide which types of seeds to grow. While certain seeds are chosen for the higher yields they produce, some are chosen strictly for their flavor profiles. Even the size of the green coffee beans can vary between different crops.
Additionally, the hands that harvest the coffee and care for the farms have an impact on the growth of the seeds. Factors like the choice of organic fertilizers, the harvest timing for crop, as well as the pest control methods, all influence the quality and the cost of the coffee – and so influence the living cost of the farmers as well.
The Drying Process
After the cherries are ripe and red, they are cut from the plant. The brighter red the cherry, the sweeter the coffee. If the cherries are allowed to ripen for too long, they will spoil before they’ve been harvested and processed.
Once cut, they need to be processed immediately. The berry is peeled and left for a time to lose all the pulp, then it is cleaned and placed in the sun to dry. The sun-drying process helps to solidify the remarkable coffee flavor. During this process there are many variations that can affect the flavors of the green bean: Leaving the beans with the pulp, taking off the pulp, or putting some of the pulp juice with the drying bean are just a few examples.
From seeds, to plants, to berries, to green coffee beans, the coffee in your mug has typically gone through an extensive decision-making process regarding specific techniques. Understanding these subtle differences during the life-cycle of your coffee bean can lead to a more full understanding of the flavor profile of your coffee.