Some people may think coffee bean is a kind of beans, but actually it is the seed of Coffea plant. The fruit of Coffea, or coffee cherry, mostly contains two seeds with their flat sides together, and the coffee cherry with only one round seed is called peaberry. There are typically two types of coffee worldwide, Arabica (~65% of the market) and Robusta (35% of the market). Although the flavors of Arabica are better than Robusta, it is harder to cultivate and required more strict environment, and relatively, the price is higher. Therefore, Arabica is usually used for specialty coffee, and Robusta for instant or drip bag coffee. Arabica can still be divided into various branches, and the commonly known branches are Caturra, Bourbon, Typica, Catuai, Catimor, and Geisha. The fun fact is, with the same type of coffee beans grown in different region will results in totally different flavors and quality, and this is why the coffee is so fascinating and charming.
Coffee beans Processing
There are commonly three different processing methods to get the coffee beans that we are familiar with: Dry process (or Natural), Wet process (or Washed), and Honey (or Pulped Natural).
- Dry process (or Natural)：It is the oldest method to process coffee. After the coffee cherries are picked from the coffee trees, they are spread out evenly and dried out under the sun. To avoid mould and rotting, coffee cherries have to turn regularly. The drying process usually takes about 20 or more days to complete, the skin and dried cherry flesh will then be removed mechanically to get the coffee beans ready to roast. Dry process is commonly used in regions where there is lack of water like Ethiopia and some regions in Brazil. However, because the skin and fruit flesh are not removed until the last step, it has more flavors, like fruitiness and sweetness, than other processes.
- Wet process (or Washed)：Unlike the dry process, all of the pulp and skin except the pectin layer are removed from the coffee cherries beforehand. Then, in order to remove the pectin layer, these cherries will be fermented for 6~80 hours. More, there are anaerobic fermentation and aerobic fermentation, and each process will result in different flavors of coffee. Finally, the coffee beans are washed to remove the pectin layer, then, it is ready to be dried. The washed process creates more brightness (acidity) and cleaner taste to the coffee. However, it requires more water than other processing methods, so it is more expensive to produce, and allows only in the places where have abundant water resources.
- Honey (or Pulped Natural)：It is also called semi-washed or semi-natural process, which combines the wet and dry process. The skin and pulp except pectin layer of coffee cherries are first removed as in the wet process. Then, these de-pulped coffee cherries will go straight to the drying process without the fermentation like in the wet process. Finally, the pectin layer was removed mechanically and get the coffee beans ready to roast. Honey process can also be divided into black, red, gold, yellow, and white honey, depending on how much pectin layer left on the bean before drying. Black honey has the most pectin layer left on the bean while white honey has only a bit pectin layer left on the bean. As of the flavors, white honey is more like the wet process and black honey is more like the dry process coffee beans. Honey process has the sweetness of dry process and brightness (acidity) of wet process, but it is the most expensive due to its complicated processing.
The overall review of coffee beans from different countries
Papua New Guinea
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
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