Coffee Processing


Coffee Processing: What do you think, your favourite beverage is? May be coffee, right! Well, this is the most beloved drink of all time with a whole mysterious history. Produced using the finest beans to create a masterpiece of true art is in the sense of taste. Also, the second largest trading commodity on Earth is coffee. I have a good impression that you know all about the great taste of this fancy drink but did you ever think on how the Coffee Process happening, going through many stages?

Did you know any single data about the plant?

If yes, then good, you are a true lover! If no, then you just love it as a drink. But you have nothing to worry about since we are here to teach you all what you need to understand about it in brief while including every important detail without missing any. Let us commence our tasty adventure now!

We would be first exploring the natural science of this amazing plant in order to teach ourselves the major role conducted by Mother Nature on this beverage

The plant is a bushy or shrubby plant with waxy leaves parallel to each other and the berries are growing along the branches just like the cherries of the Sakura (cherry blossom). There are many types but the real popularity is crowned upon the types namely Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee worldwide.

The plant takes about 5-6 years to fully mature and produce the fruits at 3-4 years after planting and the best years of productivity is seven to twenty years. The maximum life span of a plant is approximately is a century. The first plant was discovered in Ethiopia.

The average production of one plant is 10 to 11 pounds per years. You can have a cultivation in any climatic condition expect frosty snowy winter like weather. Equatorial zone is the best region for cultivation and the most popular coffee types are mostly cultivated in Brazil and Sri Lanka.

Now let us peep into details of our main topic of this article.

How is Coffee processing taking place?

Though you drink it every morning since you were a little toddler, did you ever imagine how it is produced while going through numerous stages in order to have a perfect finish!

Yet, you have no idea on how much hard toil the farmers and all the other labourers face to have this drink on your table daily.

So, let us have a great look at the first process of this massive marvel of nature.

01. Picking


The coffee bean is inside the berry of it which grows on the tree. Usually, it is harvested once a year since it takes about 365 days approximately to ripe. Most of growers use one of these methods to pluck their cultivations. There are two practical methods used namely mechanical method and hands-on method to do this task. But technically there are a few methods used as well.

  • Selective Picking –

In this process basically you pick the ripe cherries only. Let the unripe cherry fruits remain and be ripening later. The ripeness is always determined by the physical appearance and the texture. All you have to do is to gently squeeze the cherry. If it has been ripened then it will be soft and be a so brightly red. 

  • Stripe Picking – 

It is the most common method used by industrial producers. All the ripened and unripe berries are sweep at once. So, when the majority of the berries are ripe, this technique is used. The cost is too high but it worth for the commercial producers since the time spent is reduced. You can even use your hand to do this.

  • Rake Picking – 

You use a rake to gather the cherries that have been fallen to the ground. But it would be easy to just place a sheet or a net to collect the cherries as they fall. So, your task of picking would be easier. Then you have to sort the ripe and unripe cherries separately.

  • Mechanical Picking – 

Large scale commercial planters are using big machines to remove the cherries from the plant. The method used by each machine is different such as some machines use the technique of vibrating the trunk, shaking the tree so that the berries would fall to the ground where as brushes that sweep the berries of the tree.

Next we will go to second stage of making coffee. It is quite important to pay more attention to this in order to have a perfect cup with a perfect finish as well.

02. Dry Process

This is the simplest, organic and the oldest method of processing coffee. This method is used to remove the beans of the coffee cherries and dry them. The coffee cherries are laid out in the sun on a basement veranda and during night time they are covered to protect from getting wet from rain until about two or three weeks. After this the hull is removed mechanically.

There are two basic steps that we should follow to bring this process more successful as follows;

  • Cleaning – 

First, clean the harvest cherries to separate the cherries that are ripe, unripe and overripe to remove the un-cleaned particles such as; the greenery parts stalk shoots and soil. And also, this can be done by the method of winnowing which is done by hand and the use of a massive sieve. The ripen seeds can also be separated by flotation.

  • Drying – 

As the second step, we will be drying the bean under the hot sun. The cherries are laid out in the sun to get dry on a concrete courtyard. And then their shell is removed with the use of machines. It will take about three or four weeks to ensure these cherries are dried before they absorb the moisture, maximum 12.5 -13.0 percent.

Though this is the legendary method of coffee processing, it is widely used in many countries even at present since this process is not damaging the quality and could be carried out in regions where water is limitedly available like Ethiopian states and Yemen.

03. Semi Dry Process


This is moderately a new method that is introduced and used by Brazil and Indonesia. This method is an end product of brew that is an enlarged body which are delicately acidic. This is also known as “Well Hulled” or “Semi Washed” process. 

This process allows you to wet grind where the hull of the dried the seeds is removed mechanically with the use of a pulping machine. Lately, these adhesives may be washed before these beans get dried. After some time, this mucilage is not being washed way and they are allowed to wait a day before the beans are dried.

The swollen white beans arrive at the second drying phase. At twelve to fourteen percent of moisture content turns it in to dark green which depicts the coffee beans are semi washed. Usually, the objective of using of this method is to increase the intensity of the body of it which is commonly found in the Brazilian and Indonesian coffee states.

04. Wet process

Wet process or the pulping stage is also an important stage during the art of processing coffee. On this stage, the pulp is washed away to expose the coffee beans. Furthermore, this wet processing is used to decrease the acidity in gourmet coffee.

This process begins when the cherries are washed and cleaned with the use of necessary equipment’s to secure the quality of the coffee seed. The fresh fruits are pulped with the use of a pulping machine. They are sorted by immersing them in water and then the over ripe and unripe fruits will float except the ripen fruits as they will sink. This will result a balanced product with a great fruity colour as the best cherries are used.

You can do this process by using the following methods:

1. Ferment and wash method

In this method of wet processing the residue of the pulp is taken away by hydrolysing the cellulose particles by fermenting the beans in a medium of microbes and later washing them with a large quantity of water. This fermentation can be carried out with extra water or in dry fermentation this is done in the juice of the fruit itself.

Accordingly, you have to pay good attention and has to be careful in order to ensure that the coffee does not get any unfavourable, undesirable or savoury taste. Majority of the coffee types, taking away of mucilage to fermentation takes approximately two and half days but it depends on the temperature, the texture of the mucilage layer and the concentration level of enzymes present in it.

The end product of this fermentation is monitored by touch since the covering surface which surrounds the beans, disappearing the slimy texture it possesses and appears a roughly “Pebbly” marble like feeling. When this process is over you have to thoroughly wash the beans using clean water in tanks or using other special washing machines.

2. Machine assisted wet processing

In this wet processing, neither fermentation nor separating the remainder of the pulp is done. Rather, this is completed with the use of mechanical scrubbing. This processing could end the use of water and pollutions since ferment and washed water stinks. Additionally, the removal of mucilage by the use of machines is far easier and more predictable than removing by fermenting and washing.

Thus, by eradicating the ferment stage and prematurely separating fruit and bean, the mechanical demucilaging has a possibility that removes an important source that the mill operators possess a favouring coffee.

Moreover, the ecological criticism of this ferment and wash method has increase moot, this is because the combination of low water equipment’s and tanks of settlements paves the way for conscientious mill operators to operate fermentation with limited pollution too.

05. Milling


The important phase which is the quality of the coffee is controlled and cannot be understated easily. Insufficient milling or allowing the seeds to over dry will ruin the opportunity to become a superior at the end. Extreme safeguard is highly needed to obtain a superior bean, so that outcome flavour is not lost.

Since, this process is very important, so is the types of milling too. There are two main types of milling as wet and dry where the cost is control.

Hence, there are four main types of techniques that should be followed to achieve a high – quality cup of coffee. They are as follows:

1. Hulling

The hulling possesses a very rich and also an interesting history. There are a lot of unknown and un-revealed information and facts about this important stage of making coffee. Coffee was initially a manual task but it is now automatically done by machines called Hullers. In 1894, the first coffee hulling machine was patented by C.E. Lip. His objective was to make the coffee hulling process easier by separating a cleaning the berries.

This process is carried out while they are still in the bean form. The endocarp is removed while it is wet and then the drying process is done. The dried seeds are gathered in amplitude in a special granary until they are sent to the place where hulling mechanism is completed. All the outer shell [husk] of the dried coffee cherries are removed with the use of hulling machines.

2. Polishing

Coffee polishing is an additional step that is usually skipped by a majority of millers. This involves in getting rid of any sliver skin that have escaped from the previous hulling method. Polished beans are considered as superior since it is the best beans that are filtered through many stages. The polished beans are approved to be offer higher quality than the unpolished beans.

3. Cleaning and Sorting

This process involves in removing the final layers of dry skin and remaining food particles from the dry coffee. This stage is also referred to as Dry Milling. Removal of dehydrated food residue is the technical meaning of cleaning though simply the parchment skin or the dry mucilage removal.

The history of this process runs back to the ancient Yemenian Empire which used simple mill stones to sophisticated machines used to gently whack the coffee.

Sorting is usually done by size and density. Majority of the coffee with great quality undergo through many sorting done by machines either based on their sizes or density, all the while taking away the unnecessary materials such as rocks, sticks, nails and multiple debris that have contaminated the quality of coffee.

4. Grading

Though you have come across the term “Grading” when reading about it, you must be wandering but what does this mean? Who found it?

The SCA Coffee Bean Classification is the standardised method of grading coffee. It judges the quality by contrasting the amount of defective them and total cup quality. There are exceptions that are followed and compared such as the bean size, density and quality. The grades are classified as given below:

  • First Grade: Speciality grade, the beans have no primary defects and zero to three full defects.
  • Second grade: Premium grade, the coffee that you most often would be drinking.
  • Third Grade: Exchange grade, these beans will have fifty percent or above screen. Supermarkets brands are often using these beans.
  • Fourth Grade: Standard grade, these are created for dodgy territories.
  • Fifth grade: OFF grade, you really do not want these beans because they are total dirt.

06. Storage

This is referred to a broad – term describing the packaging and preservations of coffee beans in the whole process from cultivating to brewing. This is typically applied to ideal home storage for maximum consumer enjoyment.

The commercial and industrial storage of it is usually termed as are house storage since the coffee beans or the bulks of packed instant coffee are piled over one another under special storing conditions such as controlling temperature, controlling moisture content in the atmosphere and the suitable pressuring scales inside the store houses.

07. Roasting


This process is carried out by heating the seeds to augment fragrance and ultimately increasing the solubility. But what is the significant of solubility? It is because solubility is an essential element of coffee brew. The rate of solubility of any material in a specific roast is the rightful key to achieve the right exaction through temperature, time and grinding size. It is a theory.

When it undergoes roasting, five main changes appear.

  • Drying or yellowing – this is the initial stage where the moisture content of the beans is taken out and sets the basic foundation for the other stages.
  • Maillart reaction – the first browning of coffee. This process is often associated with the odour of baking bread. Both equally delicious.
  • First crack – This is the first exothermic reaction. It processes an audible sound like the popcorn popping but however producers no cracks or explosions
  • Second crack – Mostly darker roasted coffee will undergo a second roasting through a process called second crack which is the vicinity of full breaking down of coffee.
  • Carbonization – Total breaking down. A burning disaster, hazard.

The Bottom Line

As we mentioned above, there are many crucial stages it undergoes to arrive on your pleasant table every morning. As the processes become more develop it becomes easier and tastier. Whether the different steps that are followed are good or bad it depends completely on the producers. So, we recommend you to be generous and wise in choosing the right coffee that suits you the best. It should be satisfactory and much more stunning.

THANK YOU for joining and reading.

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