Coffee cherries come from an evergreen coffee plant, and although many varieties exist, the two major commercial varieties are Arabica and Robusta. A coffee plant takes about 4 years to reach maturity and is grown in the Equatorial belt between the Tropic of Capricorn & the Tropic of Cancer. Coffee plants require fertile soil, no frost, and thrive between 4,000 & 6,000 feet above sea level.
Coffee is harvested during the dry season, and each tree is picked several times over the course of the harvest, only the ripest cherries are chosen each time. The cherries are then processed to remove the bean from the hull, by either wet processing, semi-washed, or dry processing. Wet Processing uses pressurized water to remove the skins and after a fermentation period, the remaining pulp. The coffee beans are then dried to a specific moisture level prior to being shipped for roasting. The semi-washed process uses the same method for removing the skins, but is then dried before removal of the pulp hulls. Dry processing simply requires a place to dry the entire cherry prior to removal of the remaining hull from the bean.
An additional step sometimes used is to “Monsoon” the coffee. This requires aging in locations that allow the moist air to circulate through the coffee, giving a distinct flavor, not always appreciated by the average coffee drinker.
Posted in: Coffee FAQs