Ordering a coffee cup in a coffee shop is a everyday habit that’s very simple and that’s done “mechanically”. Usually no one thinks and images about the work hidden behind a coffee cup.
Beyond the roasters work, trying to select and achieve the best blend, there’s the growing aspect that is a “world” made of life, secrets and peculiarities usually unknown.
Behind a coffee cups there are a mixture of skills, sensations, hopes, hard work and desires.
Into this section all the growing green coffee phases will be analysed so to understand what there’s into a each roasted coffee bean.
- Type of coffee
- Seed extraction
- Packing and shipping
1.1 Type of coffee
Coffee plant (Coffea) belongs to dicotyledones class, and these one are under the phanerogames family. Coffee is compound by different species, but the most widespread are Arabica and Robusta (Canephora). Coffee plant is a evergreen shrub that can become 10 meters high and that’s widespread into tropical regions. The final result we see, the coffee bean, in reality is one of the two seeds enclosed into berry coffee plant. The coffee berry is quite similar to a red cherry.
Arabica coffee plant was born in Ethiopia region. Arabica is the most valuable coffee plant and it represents the 75% of the overall coffee world production. Coffees made with Arabica have a round taste, a little tip of sour, and a “chocolate” touch. Their scent is intense and the crema has hazel colour close to the reddish one with an agreeable bitter tip. Arabica plant is very sensitive to hot temperatures and humidity: it grows on altitudes within 900m and 2.000m. It’s very well know that higher is the growing altitude and better are the organoleptic roasted beans features.
Beans from Arabica have lengthened shape, with an internal rut that has a sort of S drawing. The colour is green (more or less intense) with blue shades. The caffeine content can vary from 1,2% to 1,7%
Robusta coffee plant, as its name suggests, has a very good resistance to hot temperatures and parasites. It’s very widespread into tropical lowlands and it grows on altitudes within 200m and 600 m. Coffees made with Robusta have a flavour more “sharp-edged”, astringent, with less fragrance, a tip of bitter taste and a brown crema colour on the grey side. Beans from Robusta are rounded with a very straight internal rut and their colour is a pale green with some grey shades. The caffeine content can vary from 1,6% to 3,2%.
Coffee plants propagate by seeding or by cuttings, and it takes four years before having a fully ripened plant ready to produces its fruits (called cherries). Arabica flowers pollinate themselves (autogamy process) while Robusta flowers are pollinated by insects flying from flower to flower. The coffee flower produces a drupe (or stone fruit) that’s very similar to a cherry. Inside this cherry there are two oval seeds that have a flat side crossed by a little rut.
Coffee plant have a continuous cherries productions: usually after every cloudburst the flowers appear on the plant and after 7/9 months cherries are ready. Because of this process, during years height of cloudburst, it’s very typical to have plants loaded of cherries in different maturation status.
The continuous cherries productions triggered by cloudbursts have a very heavy impact on the mature cherry picking method. The two most common picking methods are:
- Picking: this is the most expensive method because it’s hand-made. Only the mature cherry are selected so the pickers in charge of the selection have to check the coffee rows many times during the week.
- Stripping: this methodology is “harder” for the coffee plants because cherries are pulled up by pickers’ hands passing strongly along the plants’ branches. Due to this method all kind of cherries are picked up: mature cherries, unripe cherries, rotten cherries, leaves, etc. The quality picking of this method lower of the first method we analysed.
According to the two picking methods used the final coffee cup taste can change a lot. Thanks to the picking system the cherries have a same maturation level while with the stripping system the presence of different maturated cherries could give a worst result into the coffee cup. Due to the presence of unripe cherries the coffee taste will result more bitter and astringent.
The picking method has been mechanized where there are plat plantation but the quality result is very similar obtained from the stripping. Using machines for picking the cherries the risk for plants damages can increase.
1.4 Seed extraction
The coffee cherries, just after the picking have to be extracted for obtaining the beans. Extraction can be divided into two main methods:
Dry method: the result of this method are the so called natural coffees. If the picking has been made with the stripping method it’s important to wash all the cherries so to take off all the impurities and other foreign bodies (i.e. leaves, little branches, etc.) that could be mixed within the cherries.
Usually the cherries can be sieved and then cleaned with an high pressure water jet, or can be plunged into water streaming basins. Just after the cleaning process the drying treatment takes place in putting the cherries under a sun bath so to dry up them. The drupes are stocked into cement farmyards and are moved and mixed so to have all them under the sun bath. The drying process concludes into drying houses. When the drupes are completely dry the decorticate phase starts so to obtain beans free from skin, fleshes etc.. At the end of that phase the beans have to be classified (for dimension and type) because they don’t have all same quality.
Wet method: the result of this method are the so called wash coffees. The wet method is used mostly when the cherries have been harvested by picking. This process is a little bit more elaborated than the dry method but it guarantees better quality results.
Just after the cherries picking they are put into water tanks to separate the matured cherries from the unripe and shrivelled ones. Then the cherries are put into a machine that extract the beans: because this process leave some pulp around the beans, those one have to stay two or three more days into water tanks so to liberate completely from the pulp left. The last but one step is the drying phase: usually it’s made under sun bath (it’s the best methodology) but often some drying machines are used. The last phase is to clean the dried coffee from the pergamin (a sort of film that wrap up the beans) using hulling machines.
But which are the differences between a washed coffee from a natural one?
A washed coffee has a more intense colour very verging on pale blue. It’s due to the better silver skin removal process that the washed coffees have a superior quality: beans are more homogeneous and have a better aromatic features.
Into the producers countries Brazil mostly uses the dry method whereas Centre America, Kenya, Ethiopia and few others use the wash method.
Once the green coffee has been obtained thanks to the process analysed previously, a further process is set up (manually or electronically) to select and to distinguish unripe, overripe or fermented beans. Then the green coffee is selected using those criteria:
- Production origin
- Processing method
- Harvesting year
- Botanic species
- Number of impurities and defects
- Beans’ shape and size
- Organoleptic features (usually only Brazilian coffees have that detail reported)
Usually the defect and impurities rate is calculated only for Arabica coffees: this calculation considers the number of defects and impurities analyzed and found into a 300g sample.
Once the green coffee has been selected and classified it’s stored into below 50% relative humidity rooms. The product is closed into jute or sisal sacks and at this point the content has a 11%/12% relative humidity level.
1.6 Packing and shipping
Before shipping the green coffee is transferred into 60 kg standard bags: the coffee can now be shipped via sea closed into ventilated and humidity controlled containers. The beans are checked and weighed at the beginning and at the arrival of their journey to control the sea trip did not affected their characteristics.
CO.IND’S COMMITMENT TO QUALITY
On the coffee market since 1961, Co.ind employs the best resources in every phase of product processing. The experience gained in the private label production, demanding the highest standards, allows Co.ind to guarantee an excellent quality from the bean to the cup for each of its own brands Meseta, Attibassi and Carracci, and in private label production as well, tailoring our work according to the client’s specific needs.
Raw materials – As previously said, green coffee is shipped to Castel Maggiore production site after a careful selection of the best Arabica and Robusta plantations from all around the world.
Processing – Selection, roasting, blending, grinding and packaging of coffee are carried out by Co.ind through a highly automated production line, and a know-how that combines human experience and technological accuracy.
Certifications – Every year, Co.ind carries out more than 11.000 checks on its coffee, engaged in maintaining a level of excellence in any step of the production. The extreme attention to every phase is proven by the several certifications awarded to Co.ind in the fields of food and workplace safety, and customers satisfaction.
Commitment to our customers – Co.ind is always engaged in providing an high quality product and assuring the best assistance to its consumers, be they Horeca professionals who buy coffee beans, or families who enjoy ground coffee and capsules for domestic use. All our clients can rely on Co.ind for any after-sales necessity, from technical assistance to training courses for professionals.