What is coffee? Coffee is a brewed beverage that is made from roasted seeds, which are commonly referred to as coffee beans. The coffee plant, scientifically known as Coffea, is a flowering evergreen shrub or small tree that is native to tropical regions of Africa, Madagascar, and the Comoros Islands. There are many different species of coffee plants, but the two most widely grown for commercial coffee production are Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta.
The coffee plant produces a fruit that is known as a coffee cherry, which contains two seeds or coffee beans. The coffee beans are harvested by either hand-picking the cherries or mechanically stripping them from the branches of the coffee tree. The harvested coffee cherries are then processed to remove the outer layers of pulp and skin, leaving behind the coffee beans. There are two primary methods of processing coffee beans:
- The Washed Method: This method involves removing the outer layers of the coffee cherry by washing it in water, leaving the coffee beans clean and free of any remaining fruit. The coffee beans are then dried and stored until they are ready to be roasted.
- The Natural Method: This method involves drying the coffee cherries in the sun, allowing the outer layers of the fruit to dry and become brittle. Once the fruit is dry, it is removed from the coffee beans, leaving behind the dried beans with their outer layer intact. The beans are then stored until they are ready to be roasted.
After the coffee beans have been processed and dried, they are typically roasted to bring out their unique flavors and aromas. Coffee roasting involves heating the beans to a high temperature, which causes them to undergo a series of chemical reactions that develop their flavor and color. The degree of roasting can vary depending on the desired flavor profile, from light roasts that are more acidic and have a milder flavor, to dark roasts that are more bitter and have a stronger flavor. Once roasted, the coffee beans are ready to be ground and brewed into the delicious beverage that we know and love.