So sorry for the delay. I have been seriously researching how is Coffee grown. The more I dig deeper, the more I start to see that I have been so wrong. I had thought that it we can grow it ourselves with the plants, which you can buy in our local Nursery store. How was I wrong. You would need several hundred thousand just to make a bag of coffee beans. I had learned that the coffee bean is the seed or the pits, of the coffee “cherry” and it is not grown in the ground, like how I had been thinking. Can you imaging that the Bean itself was growing like a carrot or something like that??
The Coffee Cherry can grow on a shrub or an actual tree, depending on the variety and where it is grown. These cherries resemble a grape. As mention before, that the beans are grown on the inside of the cherries. Usually there will be 2 of these “pits” growing and some of the time, there will be 1 “pit” and it is known as a “peaberry”. It takes approximately 5 to 9 months for the coffee cherry, to mature and then it can to be picked. The cherry starts off from bright green color to pink, red, dark red, purple and finally to black. Typically, most farmers knows that the best time to pick is when the cherries turn to dark red. If you wait until they black, the cherries are usually rotten by this stage of the game.
An example of how the beans look like.
It does take about 5 years before the plants to begin producing the coffee cherries and that is if the right conditions are being met such as climate, rain, sunshine and shade. These trees can grow up to 16 feet if they are not trimmed back yearly. Most farmers will keep them about 5 to 7 feet. By doing this, the farmers get a lot more yield, year after year. Also it is much easier to harvest the cherries, at a lower height. The life span of the trees are about 25 to 30 years and it can produce roughly 1 to 1/2 pounds of roasted coffee per year. Arabica coffee is a self pollinating tree. Which is why we have more of this kind of coffee on the market. This much easier for the farmers. The tree does all the work, and they farmers do not have to worry if there are any bees or other pollinators near their farms.
The picture on the left is shows how coffee is grown in the sun and then right shows how it is grown in the shade, under the canopy of the other trees. (photo from The Nature Conservancy)
The coffee beans are still hidden, the thick pulp. The pulp is a sugary, jelly like flesh. Under the pulp, there is another protective layer of called the parchment and then there is another cover layer called a silver skin. These layers have to been removed if you want to get to the bean. Wow, all that work just to get the bean out. Reminds me of Christmas and all the gifts that you have to take off the wrap.
This is how the coffee cherry looks like when it is open. The beans are still under the cream colored flesh. (Image from The Great Fruit Hunt)
So you see, there is a long enough process that takes, for us to have coffee in our mugs. I couldn’t believe that it takes 5 years just for the shrub/tree to produce some fruit. Let us raise a mug and drink our coffee!!
Until next time,