The Life Cycle of the Coffee Bean
It is possible to propagate coffee plants from cuttings or shoots, yet most commercial growers choose to start new trees from seeds selected from trees of known quality, productivity, and longevity. As seedlings grow, great care must be taken to keep the soil moist and weed free. Within four to eight weeks, leaves will appear and develop.
These leaves, orelbas de onca, "panther ears" as the Brazilians call them, are a signal to the planters that the seedlings are ready to betransplanted to the nursery.
Soldado:: A Latin American word used to describe sprouting coffee because of the similarity to a soldier standing at attention capped by a helmet-like bean
Protected from the intense tropical sun by large shade trees, the seedlings are transplanted into beds or containers which are raised above normal soil level to encourage thorough drainage.
In this protected nursery environment, the new coffee plants are nurtured from nine to eighteen months, reaching a height of about 24 inches.
The growers' conscientious regimen of gradual exposure to more and more sunlight hardens the young plants, greatly reducing the chance of shock when they are transplanted to the plantation proper.
Nearly all of the arabica trees in the world today, except those of Africa and Yemen, can trace their lineage back to a single coffee seedling smuggled to the New World in 1723.
During the harvest season, whole families turn out and all hands join in the work. The Colonos, the Brazilian term for coffee pickers, carefully select only the fully - ripened fruit leaving any unripe fruit for a second, third, or fourth visit over the four to six month harvest season. A good picker can harvest as much as 200 pounds of fruit each day, the equivalent of 50 to 60 pounds of coffee beans.
Cafe de Panno: Term used in Brazil for coffee picked in the cloth; i.e., a cotton sheet is spread on the ground under the trees. The fruit is then allowed to ripen and fall to the sheet, never touching the ground.
The bright red coffee cherry is beautiful to all, but in the eye of the grower it represents years of work. In the cherry, he sees the result of his toil. The coffee cherry -- actually a casing for the coffee seed or bean -- has four layers. The first is the bright red outer husk, followed by a layer of sweet pulp and then a tough skin called the "parchment." Under this lies one last thin membrane know as the "e;silver skin," and then the bean itself. Now the cherry is ready for further preparation -- by one of two common methods.
Aged coffee: A coffee held in the green bean or dried parchment stage for 1 to 7 years in well ventilated warehouses, usually in the country of origin. This process gives beans a less acidic taste and a syrupy richness of body. Roasted coffee is never aged.
With a blend of modern machinery, skill, patience and deft hands, coffee is prepared for the world market. The removal of the husks and parchments is done with machines specifically designed for this purpose. It is then followed by separation into five or more grades by running the beans through sieves and screens with specifically - sized holes. The traditional practice of manual sorting is accomplished with amazing speed and skill, and any flawed or discolored beans are removed before bagging into sacks marked with grade, plantation, and country of origin. The coffee is then ready for its journey to distant cups.
Cafe Bonifleur: Term from the French West Indies applied to coffee which has been thoroughly cleaned and polished. So called because the polishing machine used is called a bonifleur (improver).
After sorting out any unripe coffee or foreign matter during field harvesting, the coffee cherry is ready for one of two most commonly used methods of preparation.
The wet or "washed" method is used in areas where there is an abundance of fresh water. The gathered cherries are poured into large, water-filled tanks to soften the outer skins before they are removed by pulping machines. The resulting "parchment" is then washed and left to soak from hours to days, dependent upon altitude and location.
Following this soaking period, known as "fermentation," the coffee is thoroughly washed and then moved to the drying terraces.
Cafe Pergamino, also known as parchment coffee, is said to be "in the parchment" when dried, after the outer skin and pulp have been removed by water. Some European markets require coffee exported to them in this manner.
The dry or natural method is the oldest and simplest method of preparation, and three fifths of the world's coffee is still prepared in this manner. Harvested cherries are laid out on cane matting or brick patios under the hot sun where they are then raked and turned several times a day to ensure even drying. The success of this method is largely dependent upon the continuance of clear, warm weather for the two to three weeks required to thoroughly dry the cherries.
On larger plantations or co-ops, drying machines are common, shortening the drying time of parchment coffee to 24 to 36 hours. Now the coffee is ready for polishing and sorting.
Beneficio: a Mexican term, is the preparation area on a plantation where the drying terraces, fermentation tanks, washing vats, and warehouses are located.
From storage in great, covered warehouses where they have been neatly stacked, the bagged coffee beans are moved by conventional transportation to the docks. There, stevedores experienced in the careful handling of coffee, see that the bags are properly stowed aboard ship. In the hold, the bags are layered in tiers, separated by wooden battens or pallets to assure abundant air circulation throughout the voyage.
More than one third of the world's coffee is addressed to the United States, followed by the Federal Republic of Germany.
Mocha: Formerly important coffee port on the coast of Arabia, closed by a sandbar over 100 years ago. Only coffees grown in Arabia are entitled to the trade name "mocha." Coffees are now shipped through the ports of Hodeida and Aden. Mocha beans are small, smooth, and delicious in flavor.
The modern machines for roasting coffee evolved from crude stone vessels used around 1200 A. D., through the first cylindrical designs about 1650, to the computerized roasters now used by the major coffee companies. Yet in the 900 years or so that coffee has been roasted, the basic concept remains the same, create a flavorful, evenly - roasted bean from the green coffee of the fields. Simply put, the beans are heated in a revolving cylinder to a temperature of about 430 degrees Fahrenheit, or 200 degrees Centigrade for the length of time it takes to achieve the desired flavor. Delightfully, the kinds of roasts are as varied as human taste.
The pleasure of coffee is derived from its taste, location, kind of roast, and method of brewing. Served hot or cold, pure or with condiments, the world's most prolific beverage is a celebration after a long journey of years and many hands from seed to cup.
Coffee, you dispel the worries of the great... you are the gift of the friends of God... the common man's gold, and like gold, you bring to every man the feeling of luxury and nobility. Where coffee is served, there is grace, splendor, friendship and happiness. You flow through the body as freely as life's blood, refreshing all that you touch.