All About Coffee
This begins our series, "All About Coffee" where we learn about the journey coffee takes from the seed to your cup. We'll explore some of the methods used in this process including the various ways of growing coffee plants (or trees); harvesting coffee cherries; milling the coffee beans from the cherries, and how the beans are dried and packed. Then, we will explore the adventures of coffee production from concocting the best blend of beans for each batch roast to quality testing, taste cupping, and packaging the finished products for sale.
Types of Coffee Trees
There are dozens of different types of coffee trees and several of those that produce coffee beans suitable for consumption. Two of the most popular coffee types are the Arabica and Robusta beans. Arabicas are more delicate and harder to grow but yield a much higher quality bean than the easier-to-grow Robustas. Here at Rogers Family Coffee, we only use the highest quality Arabica coffee beans. We refuse to use the lower quality Robusta coffee beans even though this is a very common practice in today's coffee industry.
The Humble Coffee Seedling
Coffee trees are usually grown from seeds or cuttings. Coffee seeds, also known as coffee beans can either be planted immediately or even dried for up to one year and used to plant coffee. Once planted the germination to sprout process can take up to 60 days. Typically, coffee seedlings are grown in nursery beds or polybags until they reach about 8-10 inches tall. Then, they are potted until they are ready to be planted in their final destination.
From Young Coffee Tree to Flower
About two to four years after planting, the young coffee tree will begin to produce small white flowers with a highly fragrant aroma. These flowers will last only a few days leaving behind dark leaves and soon after, small green berries. It is from these small green berries that the ripe coffee cherries are grown. During this intense "growing" period the cherries can consume 70% of the coffee plants nutrients, and will actually halt the growth of the plant. This burden can cause problems for trees with large numbers of coffee cherries since the plant will favor feeding the cherries over itself and can be harmed due to lack of nutrition.
The Coffee Cherry
Each coffee cherry contains two seeds or "beans" as they are called. Once the beans are formed they will be growing inside of an area called the intergument. The coffee bean will consume and replace the intergument with the exception of a final layer that will be referred to as the Silver Skin layer. Around five weeks following the bean gaining its full size, the cherries will begin to change color as they ripen. Turning from green to yellow and eventually red, the cherries are now ready for harvest.
The Coffee Tree
Arabica coffee trees will usually produce fruit in about three to five years but aren't fully mature until about seven years. If left unattended, they would grow to be about fifteen feet tall, but typically farmers keep them at six feet tall for easier harvesting. After the eighth year, the coffee tree begins to produce a full crop and can yield from one to twelve pounds of coffee each year. Each coffee tree commonly can produce cherries for 50 - 60 years, but there have been reports of trees lasting up to 100 years.
Stay tuned for our next article on "All About Coffee".