Ever wondered how coffee beans go from cherries into your cup? Here's how it works:
- Coffee plants are cultivated from Kona Arabica seedlings; a plant may produce for a hundred years or more
- It takes seven or more months for fruit to grow to ripeness after the plant flowers
- The coffee cherries are picked when ripe; ripeness is determined by color (a deep red) as well as via a scientific instrument that measures the sugar content
- If cherries are allowed to get too ripe, they start fermenting and dry out
- Once picked, a machine rinses the cherries
- Another machine then squeezes the cherries, so that the bean is extracted; the skin and pulp are then used as fertilizer on the coffee plants
- Beans must be processed the same day they are extracted, or they begin to ferment
- The beans go through another machine to separate the parchment layer of skin from the hard bean (Fabio said, “The coffee bean is like a peanut with two layers of skin. The parchment is a protection to keep the bean from being damaged.”)
- The beans are dried, a process that takes about 30 hours
- The beans are sorted by size and density; the larger/heavier coffee beans have richer flavor and aroma because they have more nutrients and sugar content
- After they are processed, the beans go into a temperature- and humidity-controlled room to prevent mold, which would change the flavor, while they wait for certification as Kona beans
- Once the beans are certified, they are roasted and hand-packed daily for sale
For more about coffee, see our “Did You Know” link, here.
To read about our tour of the Kona Joe’s Coffee Plantation, click here.
Photos by Paul K. Logsdon