Coffee, what seems to be the world’s favorite beverage, has a distinctive aroma and a variety of tastes from bold to light and earthy and even a bit spicy. Today we have easy access to coffee shops which are on just about every corner, but you’d be surprised at the special care and environmental conditions it takes to produce the much loved beans that make up the world’s favorite brew.
Coffee berries are produced by a variety of smaller species of evergreen bushes also known as Coffea plants. The seeds are located in coffee “berries”, which grow on these plants that are harvested in more than 70 countries, largely in India, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Brazil is the world’s premier coffee exporting region, however Vietnam actually tripled their exports between 1995 – 1999, and grew to be a key grower of Robusta beans. Indonesia has become the third major exporter and is the key producer of washed Arabica coffee. The most traded agricultural commodities in the world today are actually unroasted (green) coffee.
The environment, climate and rainfall have an effect on the growth of Coffea plants, and the fruit flowering and maturing timelines vary. Generally, the Arabica species takes around 7 months, and 9 months for Robusta. You can tell the berries are ripe and ready to be harvested when they turn a red/purple color.
Arabica coffee plants are probably the most common, typically grown in volcanic regions where the moist soil is regularly tilled and fertilized. The higher the coffee is grown the longer it will take, and the better it will taste. Flavorful coffee takes time and that is why some blends can cost more than others.
Once they’re ripe, the coffee berries are harvested, carefully processed, and dried. Next the seeds are roasted at various degrees, based on the flavor desired, sold as coffee beans or ground, and then brewed into the delicious cup of coffee you enjoy today.