The first step in obtaining the coffee bean is to harvest the bean. It is extremely important that green beans aren’t harvested as these are unripe. Once harvested, the drupes are submerged in water to separate the seeds (beans) from the pulp. The beans come out during this process and are small and green. They don’t take on their classic brown colour and delicious aroma until after roasting.
There are around 60 different species of coffee beans in the world but only 20 or so of them produce fruit that can be used to harvest coffee beans for making coffee. The drupes all have variances based on where they’re grown due to temperature and climate. Most of the world’s coffee is grown in the Coffee Belt which covers countries like Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
There are two main types of coffee beans that are used around the world; Robusta and Arabica. Kopi Luwak is an honourable mention.
More than 70% of the world’s coffee is made using Arabica beans. Originating in Ethiopia, these beans have an intense yet sweet and delicate flavour. These beans tend to be lower in caffeine with a fruity taste making it easily palatable for most people.
The main producers of this bean are Ethiopia and Colombia.
Unlike the Arabica bean, Robusta beans are higher in caffeine and tend to be more bitter. Robusta beans make a coffee with a creamier, fuller body; resulting in a drink that gives a real boost to the drinker.
The largest Robusta producing country is India where the beans grow in the monsoons.
The most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak usually costs over $70 per cup! What makes these beans unique is that they are processed in a particularly unusual way. The berries are partially digested by a civet, a small wild cat, and are harvest once it passes through the cat’s intestines. Somehow this process produces an incredible aroma and makes the beans very sweet with a chocolatey aftertaste.
Harvested cherries are first sorted to remove any damaged or unripe fruit. As this process does not include the full washing process, dirt and soil is removed by using a sieve. Next the coffee beans are dried with the fruit still surrounding them. The beans have to be turned regularly to ensure even drying and can take much longer than in the washed method because of the protective layer of fruit and can take up to four weeks to fully dry. Larger farms sometimes machine dry the cherries and then leave them out in the sun for a few days to finish the process. Once dried, the fruit is sent to coffee silos where the hulling process removes the fruit and these are then sorted and graded.
Pulped Natural/Honey Process
This process produces much sweeter coffee and balanced coffee. After going through the pulping machinery to remove the skin and expose the sugary mucilage, the coffee is dried on parchment but, unlike the wet method, the beans are not fermented. This leaves on the Silver Skin layer intact.
As the mucilage has a lot of sugar in it, the coffee produced has sweet, honey-like qualities to it and the bean can literally ooze the mucilage throughout the drying process.
Wet Hulled/Semi Washed
Many coffees are produced through this method and it creates a rustic, earthy cup of coffee with a sweet, chocolatey aroma.
The main distinction between this process and the Pulped Natural/Honey process is that a portion of the mucilage is removed while the rest is left on the bean. First the coffee is stripped of the fruit pulp until on the mucilage is left and is set aside to dry for only a few hours before being hulled and dried. This process is almost exclusive to Indonesia, specifically Sumatra.
While roasters around the world roast anywhere between light to extra dark, many specialty roasters don't roast past medium to ensure you're getting the richest flavour profile without the bean getting too bitter. As a result, you'll see a relatively small selection of bean roasts on our site;
3. Omni Roast
We go into much more detail about these in our blog posts so be sure to check those out!
Also, you will see MASL used across the site. This just refers to Meters Above Sea Level and it only used when discussing the altitude beans were grown at.