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Coffee from Harvest to Cup - Follow the Bean on Its Journey

Columbian Coffee Tree

Many of us who enjoy the wonderful flavor and aroma of a hearty cup of coffee have never stopped to think about how the brew is actually produced. The techniques and processes from getting coffee from harvest to cup have been refined over generations and coffee production is now a multi-billion dollar business. The origin of your morning cup of coffee is the coffee bean, which is actually a seed. If not processed, this bean can be planted to form coffee plant and eventually grow into a fully formed coffee tree producing beans of its own.

The process of bringing coffee from harvest to cup begins in shaded nurseries. The coffee seeds are planted in large beds initially, and then transferred to individual pots with specially formulated soil. At this point in the coffee production process the seedlings are very delicate and will need frequent watering and must be shaded from the sun. Soon they will grow hearty and resilient enough to be removed from the pots and permanently planted in the ground. The transplantation from to the earth often occurs during the rainy season so the soil remains moist, assuring the young tree's roots have the best chance of becoming firmly established.

The average coffee tree will take 3 to 4 years to begin to produce fruit. The fruit that is produced is called a "cherry" due to its bright red appearance. The majority of coffee production plantations around the world still utilize hand picking to harvest the fruit rather than mechanical methods. This is due to the fact that mechanized pickers often damage the delicate fruit. The hand picking method also enables workers to selectively pick only the best and most ripe beans, leaving the others on the tree to finish ripening for harvest at another time.

Once the beans are removed from the fields, there are only a few more steps in the coffee production procedure to get the coffee from harvest to cup. The cherries will be immediately laid out in the sun to dry or first fed through a pulper to separate the beans from the pulp then laid out in the sun. The beans must be dried to a moisture level of 11% before being ready for storage or packaging. Once the beans reach the desired moisture level, they are ready to be bagged and exported all over the world. Over 12 billion pounds of coffee is produced in this age-old fashion and exported every year to people worldwide looking forward to their morning cup of coffee.

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