Welcome back to my Coffee Journey, this is G for Green Beans.
Green Beans in Starbucks Talk are new partners (employees) who need to be trained.
And of course, Green Beans are literally Green Beans, as in Coffee Beans. Coffee Beans are the seeds inside the coffee plant's cherry.
Let's have a closer look at how these cherries are grown and processed:
New coffee plants grow in germinators, which provide protection and nutrients for their initial development. Young seeds take about 60 days to sprout.
After two months, seedlings are planted into plastic bags filled with soil, and are kept in shadowed nurseries. They will stay there for about six months, after which the grown plants are transplanted to their final place on the farm. Plants are 1 - 1.5 meters (3 - 5 feet) apart.
Cultivation requires weeding, fertilising, plague and disease control.
Years of applying acidic fertilizers in conjunction with leaching, may cause low pH, reducing the microbial activity that drives nutrient availability in soils.
That's why one of the most important practices in coffee production is crop nutrition. For every ton of green beans removed from the trees, about 40kg nitrogen, 2.2kg phosphorus and 53 kg potassium should be added annually.
This is typically done two months before the main harvest and two months after the main harvest.
A coffee trees's life cycle is between five and ten years, with the first harvest being picked after two years. After five years, a coffee tree is "pruned" = trimmed back, giving the tree a chance to be productive for another five years.
Flowering occurs after dry periods. It'll take about two to three months from blossoming till ripe cherries are ready for harvesting.
The coffee cherries will ripen over the course of six months, depending of wet and dry seasons. Meaning the coffee pickers need to come back every other week to pick the new cherries, as soon as they're completely ripe and have an intense red color.
|Photo by Michael Burrows fom Pexels|
Coffee cherries are mostly hand picked. No machine will distinguish the level of ripeness as well as the human eye!
|Photo by Michael Burrows fom Pexels|
Coffee cherries are depulped within 24 hours of picking. Depulping is the process of separating the coffee seeds from the outer layer of flesh.
Then the beans are spread out over large concrete slabs or on drying beds to be dried by the sun, being regularly turned for drying evenly.
A hulling machine removes the dried pulp, parchment and silver skin from the exterior of the beans. You will learn more about coffee processing in my post about Java, Indonesia.
Coffee beans are sorted by hand for quality control, making sure every bean meets the highest quality standards.
|Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash|
The beans are placed in burlap sacks, labeled and prepped for shipping. Each sack can weigh 100 - 150 pounds.
Coffee is shipped worldwide by cargo ships, trucks, trains and planes.
As they arrive at a port, the beans are inspected and transported to specialty coffee roasters and stores.
Up to this point, the coffee beans have been green.
|Photo Credit: Michael Burrows on Pexels|
Roasting is art and science at the same time. You have learned a thing or two about it in my respective post. The beans are roasted slowly until they turn light, medium or dark brown. The darker the color, the stronger the flavor.
Knowing the precise moment to cool the beans takes practice and experience. You don't want to burn them!
Once the beans are cooled, they are placed in tubs to get ready for weighing and packaging.
Bags need to be properly sealed to ensure coffee freshness. Starbucks has developed a special kind of packaging called FlavorLock bags.
Enough for today, though.
We'll be talking more about freshness, grinding and actually brewing coffee in upcoming posts!