Ever wonder what goes into your daily brew? Here's a quick breakdown of the not-so-quick process:
1. Seed and Planting: A baby coffee seed is planted by a farmer, becomes a seedling shrubby and then gets planted again. D'aww, precious. It's ideally planted under other trees for shading, protection, and biodiversity.
2. Maturity: Three years and a lot of tender love by the farmer later, it becomes a mature shrub and is ready for harvest! Woohoo!
3. Harvest: Coffee is harvested at origin. Most regions have a yearly harvest, while others have two (i.e. Colombia and Kenya). Various villagers neighboring the farms are employed to help with the harvest. This is when most farms come fully alive. #WerkIt
4. Processing: After the coffee is harvested, it's milled/cleaned from its outer fruit by one of three common methods: washed, natural, or semi-natural (AKA honey process). Once the outer fruit is gone, the coffee seed is left in a husk-like casing called parchment (pergamino in Spanish). It's left to dry a little, and then the parchment is removed. Defects are then sorted out by hand or machine, and the coffee beans may also be sorted by size using meshed screens. Remember, for smallholding farmers, most of these processes are done by hand. [More on process]
5. Export and Import: Once the coffee is fully processed and deemed pretty enough for export, it's bagged up in jute bags typically weighing 69kg (152lbs). All coffee bags are put into large shipping containers, loaded onto huge barges, and...bon voyage! From this point, it will take about two months for the coffee to arrive at its destination. [More on harvest schedule]
6. Roasting: The shipment of the coffee arrives at our warehouse, and we cut open the bag and get started. Each coffee has its own unique temperament dependent on different variables like elevation or process. We sample roast, listen to what the coffee wants from us, make adjustments, and then roast to bring out the unique character of that coffee. It's then—finally—ready to get packaged and delivered to you.
So, on your next home brew or cafe visit, remember to take a little moment to reflect on all the hard work that went into making your few ounces of coffee happen. From farmer to barista, it takes a village.
And here's a link to our process illustration wallpaper for your laptop [download].