The Journey from Coffee Cherry to Green Coffee Bean

Coffee Cherry to Green Bean

Coffee is a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions around the world. But have you ever wondered how that cup of joe is made? The journey of coffee begins with a humble fruit called the coffee cherry. Let’s dive into the fascinating process of coffee cherry processing and how it transforms into the green coffee beans that will eventually be roasted and brewed into the cup of goodness we all know and love.

Key Takeaways:

  • Coffee starts its journey as a fruit called a coffee cherry, which grows on coffee plants in the coffee belt.
  • The main species of coffee plants used in the commercial industry are Arabica and Robusta.
  • Coffee cherries are harvested when they turn a deep red color.
  • Processing methods for coffee cherries include the dry method, wet method, and other variations.
  • After processing, the beans are dried, hulled, and sorted to remove the parchment layer, resulting in green coffee beans ready for export and further processing.

The Coffee Cherry Harvest and Processing

The coffee cherry harvest is a labor-intensive process. The cherries are either strip picked, where all the cherries are removed by hand or machine, or selectively picked, where only the ripe cherries are handpicked.

Once harvested, there are different processing methods to remove the pulp and mucilage from the beans. The dry method involves sun-drying the cherries and raking them multiple times a day until they reach the desired moisture content. The wet method, on the other hand, involves removing the skin and pulp before fermenting the beans in water and drying them. There are also variations called semi-washed methods, where the mucilage is not removed.

Regardless of the processing method, the beans need to be dried to a specific moisture content and hulled to remove the parchment layer. After grading and sorting, the resulting green coffee beans are ready for export.

Here is a comparison of the different processing methods for coffee cherry:

Processing MethodDescription
Dry MethodThe cherries are dried in the sun and raked multiple times to achieve the desired moisture content.
Wet MethodThe cherries are depulped, fermented, and then dried.
Semi-Washed MethodThe cherries are partially depulped, fermented, and dried with the remaining mucilage intact.

Each processing method imparts unique characteristics to the coffee beans, resulting in different flavor profiles and aromas.

The Coffee Supply Chain and Trade

The coffee supply chain is a complex network that involves various stakeholders, from smallholder farmers to coffee traders and cooperatives. Understanding this supply chain is crucial to gaining insights into the journey of coffee from the farm to your cup.

At the beginning of the coffee supply chain are the smallholder farmers. These farmers typically own small, low-yielding farms in remote areas where coffee is grown. They play a vital role in coffee production, cultivating and harvesting the coffee cherries.

coffee supply chain

Once the coffee cherries are harvested, they are sold to agents who act as intermediaries between the farmers and larger coffee buyers. These agents aggregate the coffee cherries from multiple farmers and sell them to larger buyers, ensuring a consistent supply of coffee for processing.

Large cooperatives also play a significant role in the coffee supply chain. These cooperatives collect coffee from several thousand members, providing support and resources to farmers. They ensure the coffee is processed and prepared for export in accordance with quality standards.

Coffee is traded in both physical and futures markets. In the physical market, participants buy and sell physical, green coffee beans of different qualities for immediate delivery or shipment. This market allows the supply and demand of coffee to be met in real-time.

The coffee futures market, on the other hand, involves buying and selling forward contracts based on a reference price for standardized quality coffee to be settled in the future. This market provides a way for traders, roasters, and producers to manage price risks and plan for future coffee needs.

The Role of Smallholder Farmers and Cooperatives

Smallholder farmers and cooperatives are essential contributors to the coffee supply chain. These farmers often face challenges such as limited access to resources, fluctuating market prices, and the effects of climate change.

Cooperatives provide support to smallholder farmers by offering training, financing, and resources to improve their farming practices and yield. By working collectively, these farmers gain access to markets, negotiate better prices, and have a stronger voice in the coffee industry.

The Impact of Coffee Trade

The coffee trade has a significant impact on the economies of coffee-producing regions and the livelihoods of farmers. Fluctuations in coffee prices can directly affect the income of smallholder farmers, making it challenging for them to cover production costs.

Issues such as oversupply, market speculation, and economic factors can lead to price volatility in the coffee market. To address this, fair trade practices have emerged, aiming to ensure a minimum price and fair compensation for coffee farmers.

“Fair trade coffee ensures that farmers receive a fair price for their hard work.”

Companies like Kickapoo pay higher prices to support coffee growers and promote sustainable practices. Consumers can also contribute to supporting fair wages for farmers by purchasing fairly traded coffee or contributing to programs that support coffee growers.

In conclusion, understanding the coffee supply chain and trade is crucial to realizing the efforts and challenges faced by smallholder farmers and the impact of our coffee choices. By supporting fair trade practices, we can help create a more equitable and sustainable coffee industry.

Coffee Roasting and Flavor Development

The roasting process plays a vital role in developing the unique flavors and aromas of coffee beans. It combines the artistry of the roaster with the precise application of heat to unlock the full potential of the beans. Let’s take a closer look at how coffee bean roasting impacts flavor development and the role of coffee roasters in this process.

During coffee roasting, the green coffee beans undergo significant chemical changes that result in the rich flavors and enticing aromas we associate with a perfect cup of joe. The roasting process typically takes about 10 to 15 minutes and involves carefully controlled exposure to heat.

As coffee beans roast, they go through distinct stages. First, moisture evaporates from the beans, causing them to change color from green to yellow. Next, the beans undergo a process called caramelization, where sugars within the beans transform into flavorful compounds, producing aromas reminiscent of toasted caramel or chocolate. The longer the beans roast, the darker they become, resulting in a deeper, bolder flavor profile.

Coffee beans go through several stages during roasting:

  1. Evaporation of moisture
  2. Yellowing
  3. Caramelization
  4. Development of roast flavors

The degree of roast significantly impacts the resulting coffee flavor. Light roasts, such as City or Light City, retain more of the coffee’s original characteristics, showcasing bright acidity and delicate flavors. Medium roasts, like Full City or American, offer a balance of acidity, body, and flavor development. Dark roasts, such as French or Italian, feature rich, bold flavors with lower acidity levels.

Coffee roasters, the skilled professionals who oversee the roasting process, play a crucial role in ensuring consistency and quality. They carefully select and source green coffee beans, considering factors such as origin, variety, and processing methods, to achieve desired flavor profiles. Roasters also develop and refine their own unique roasting profiles, taking into account variables like time, temperature, and air flow to achieve the perfect roast.

Coffee roasters take great care in roasting small batches of beans:

Roasting ProcessDescription
Batch RoastingRoasting small quantities of beans to ensure control and consistency
Roast ProfilesDeveloping unique roasting profiles to bring out desired flavors
Quality ControlEnsuring each batch meets high standards of taste and aroma

Once coffee beans have been roasted to perfection, they are promptly packaged to preserve freshness and delivered to coffee enthusiasts. From the meticulous selection of green beans to the precise application of heat, every step contributes to the distinctive flavors and captivating aromas that make coffee a beloved beverage worldwide.

coffee bean roastingNext, we’ll explore the fascinating world of coffee production and market trends.

Coffee Production and Market Trends

Coffee production is a colossal industry, with a staggering 169.1 million bags (60 kg) produced worldwide during the 2019/2020 season. However, coffee farmers face the constant challenge of market trends and fluctuating coffee prices. These unpredictable shifts often have a significant impact on their livelihoods.

In 2019, the price of coffee plummeted to under $1 per pound, reaching its lowest point since 2006. This drop was primarily due to an oversaturated market and Brazil’s volatile economy. For coffee farmers to break even on their production costs, they need to receive a minimum price of around $1.20 per pound.

Fair trade coffee presents a viable solution that ensures farmers receive a fair price and adequate compensation for their hard work. Companies like Kickapoo go one step further by paying higher prices to support coffee growers. By purchasing fair trade coffee, consumers can play an active role in supporting these farmers and promoting equitable wages.

Additionally, consumers can contribute to various programs and initiatives aimed at uplifting coffee growers. Through their actions, they can help create a sustainable and fair coffee industry, where farmers receive the compensation they deserve.

Benefits of Fair Trade Coffee:

  • Provides farmers with fair prices for their coffee
  • Safeguards against exploitation and promotes ethical practices
  • Supports sustainable farming methods and environmental conservation
  • Encourages community development and empowerment

By choosing fair trade coffee, consumers can make a positive impact on the lives of coffee farmers and their communities while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.

YearCoffee Production (in million bags)

Note: The table above showcases coffee production in millions of bags over the past five years.

coffee production market trends

The Final Stage: From Roaster to Cup

After the coffee beans have been roasted, they are packaged and sent to coffee roasters. Coffee roasters purchase the beans and roast them to their desired specifications. The freshly roasted coffee is then ready to be brewed and enjoyed by consumers.

There are various brewing methods, such as drip brewing, French press, espresso, and pour-over. Each brewing method brings out different flavors and aromas from the coffee beans. Consumers can choose from a variety of brewing options and customize their coffee experience to suit their preferences.

The journey of the coffee bean ends when it is brewed and served in a cup, providing a delightful and flavorful beverage to coffee lovers.


What is the journey of a coffee cherry to becoming a green coffee bean?

The journey begins with the coffee cherry, which is harvested from coffee plants. After harvesting, the cherries are processed using methods such as the dry method, wet method, or semi-washed method. The beans are then dried, hulled, and sorted to remove the parchment layer, resulting in green coffee beans ready for export and further processing.

How are coffee cherries harvested and processed?

Coffee cherries can be strip picked or selectively picked. After harvesting, the cherries undergo processing methods such as the dry method, wet method, or semi-washed method to remove the pulp and mucilage. The beans are then dried to the desired moisture content, hulled to remove the parchment layer, and sorted.

What is the coffee supply chain and how does it work?

The coffee supply chain involves smallholder farmers who sell their coffee to agents, who in turn sell to larger ones before reaching the processing mill. Large cooperatives also collect coffee from multiple members. Coffee is traded in physical and futures markets, where participants buy and sell physical, green coffee or engage in forward contracts based on a reference price.

How are coffee beans roasted and what role does it play in flavor development?

Coffee beans are roasted to develop their flavor and aroma. Roasting involves exposing the beans to the right amount of heat over time. The roasting process includes stages such as moisture evaporation, yellowing, caramelization, and development of roast flavors. The degree of roast determines the resulting flavor, which can range from light to dark.

What are some market trends and factors that impact coffee production?

Coffee production is influenced by market trends and fluctuations in coffee prices. Factors such as an oversaturated market and unstable economies can lead to price drops. Coffee farmers need to receive a minimum price to cover production costs. Fair trade coffee ensures fair compensation for farmers. Supporting fair trade or contributing to programs that support coffee growers can help ensure sustainable coffee production.

How is coffee brewed from roasted beans?

After roasting, coffee beans are packaged and sent to coffee roasters. The freshly roasted coffee can then be brewed using various methods such as drip brewing, French press, espresso, or pour-over. Each brewing method brings out different flavors and aromas. Consumers can choose from a variety of brewing options to customize their coffee experience.