What’s in the bean? Unpacking the coffee cherry
If you’re a Craft Coffee regular, then you know that we know exactly where our coffee comes from. That’s because we’re proud supporters of #DirectTrade which means that both you and your roaster have a clear line of site to the farmer that grew that coffee.
But have you ever thought about what’s inside the humble coffee cherry?
Understanding the different parts of the bright red coffee cherry will give you further insight into the factors that influence the distinctive and delicious final coffee profile.
The beans that our roasters roast, grind, and brew to make coffee are the seeds of the coffee fruit.
The skin of the coffee cherry initially has a green colour until it ripens to be bright red, yellow or occasionally pink-the final colour depends on the variety of the cherry. Beneath this skin is the cherry pulp that contains mucilage and layers full of sugar that come in handy during the fermentation process.
Finally, we strike gold! The coffee seeds, known more commonly as coffee beans, are at the centre of the cherry.
There are usually two beans in a coffee cherry, each of which is covered by a thin epidermis known as the silverskin and a papery hull that we call parchment. The parchment is removed in the dry milling process, during hulling. Occasionally green beans are sold with the parchment layer intact, but usually machines are used to remove this layer and any remaining fruit from the precious beans.
The silverskin is difficult to remove prior to roasting as they are in actual fact a group of cells strongly attached to the beans for support and protection. However, roasting sheds the silverskin, now known as the chaff, with ease.
There are two different options to take during the coffee harvesting process that determine the final taste profile: 1) Washed coffee and 2) Natural processed coffee.
Coffee cherries begin to germinate as soon as they are taken from the branch, and germination uses the sugar in the coffee seed or bean. As the germination process stops when they coffee drying begins, the aforementioned two options have a big impact on the final product.
Natural processed coffees are taken to the drying terrace earlier than the washed coffee drying process. Because of this, more sugar remains in the natural process coffee and you end up with a sweeter bean then you would had it been washed.
Ultimately it is all about preference. Washed coffees have a more distinctive, clean and consistent flavour that can feature a lot of acidity while the natural coffee beans are fruity, sweet and full of body.
Whatever the process, if your coffee comes from Craft- It’s bound to be delicious!