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From Tree to Cup, What Your Coffee Did Before it Landed in Your Cup

We depend on it to stay awake after a long night with sick kids. It’s one of the first things we think about when we open our eyes in the morning. We make it into lattes and cold press… but have you ever wondered what your coffee did before it landed in your cup? We’re taking a photographic tour of the coffee process that you can watch as you sip your morning brew.

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  • Seed to Seedling 1 of 20
    Seed to Seedling
    Coffee beans are actually seeds. It takes four years from planting the seed until the shrub is producing coffee cherries to harvest.
  • Coffee Cherries 2 of 20
    Coffee Cherries
    The coffee tree is actually a shrub. Each cherry on the shrub must go from green to bright red before it can be harvested.
  • Harvest 3 of 20
    Harvest
    Each tree in Burundi produces about 1 Kilogram of cherries that must be picked by hand over the course of 6 weeks.
  • Pre-sorting 4 of 20
    Pre-sorting
    Farmers deliver their daily picking to a local washing station. Before being paid by the station the farmer must sort out any over or under-ripe cherries.
  • Weighing the Cherries 5 of 20
    Weighing the Cherries
    Farmers deliver their daily picking to a local washing station. Before being paid by the station the farmer must sort out any over or under-ripe cherries.
  • Cherry Collecting 6 of 20
    Cherry Collecting
    All the farmers who delivered to the washing station in a day have their coffee combined and pulped together into one day lot.
  • De-pulping 7 of 20
    De-pulping
    The fully-washed coffee process starts with the removal of the skin on the coffee cherry. It is then sorted by size and density and fermented to remove all the fruit.
  • Grading and Rinsing 8 of 20
    Grading and Rinsing
    After 12-18 hours of fermentation, the coffee is graded by density in rinsing channels.
  • Rinsing and Drying 9 of 20
    Rinsing and Drying
    Basket full by basket full the wet coffee parchment is delivered to the pre-drying tables.
  • Pre-drying 10 of 20
    Pre-drying
    Before moving the wet parchment into the full sun the coffee is pre-dried and hand-sorted to look for defects and damaged beans.
  • Sun drying 11 of 20
    Sun drying
    Raised drying tables are used to sun dry the parchment encased coffee. Continual hand stirring of the parchment allows even drying of the coffee.
  • Moisture content 12 of 20
    Moisture content
    On average it takes 14 days to fully dry the coffee. Each night the coffee is covered to keep out moisture and in the heat of the day shade cloth is used to keep out the harshest of the sun's rays.
  • Storage 13 of 20
    Storage
    After the coffee parchment dries to 11% moisture content it is stored in 50kg bags at the washing station.
  • Delivery 14 of 20
    Delivery
    Parchment is delivered to the dry mill for the final process in preparing the coffee for shipment.
  • Dry Mill 15 of 20
    Dry Mill
    The dry mill removes the parchment from the green coffee bean and grades the green coffee by size and density.
  • Hand Picking 16 of 20
    Hand Picking
    Top grade coffee goes through further hand picking to remove any defective beans.
  • Export 17 of 20
    Export
    Green coffee is graded and put into 60kg bags for shipment to roasters around the world.
  • Roast 18 of 20
    Roast
    Our green coffee arrives at your local roaster. It is then roasted to medium or dark brown at around 180 degrees C.
  • Brew 19 of 20
    Brew
    Espresso. Pour-over. Drip pot. However you order it, the beans are ground and then brewed.
  • Drink Up 20 of 20
    Drink Up
    The best part of the process.

All images copyright Kristy Carlson… please don’t steal, it’s mean.

Read more from Kristy at Long Miles Coffee Project . For daily updates of her adventures in Africa, be sure to follow her on FacebookTwitter and especially Instagram. 

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