Coffee is a fruit. The coffee plant is an evergreen shrub with fruit that resembles a cranberry in shape and color. There are normally two seeds in each cherry, which are in fact the green coffee beans. It takes about five years for a coffee tree to begin producing fruit.
Coffee is a tropical plant and growing regions are located along or near the equator. Only perfectly ripe cherries are selectively hand picked and typically the trees must be re-picked three to six times to harvest all the fruit. Harvesting is the most expensive step of processing coffee due to the intensive labor required. All Arabica coffees are hand picked and only the highest quality Arabica beans are used in our Verena Street coffees.
After the harvest, the beans must be separated from the other layers of the coffee cherry by either the wet or dry processing method. The wet method is more expensive however it is the process used almost exclusively on higher quality Arabica coffees like those used for our Verena Street coffees.
The wet method uses water to remove stones and dirt from cherries. Flesh of the fruit is removed with a de-pulping machine, then they are fermented. The beans are then washed and dried in the sun on concrete patios.
The beans are then sorted (by bean size, density, and color) and unwanted objects such as sticks, stones, and damaged beans are removed. Once sorted, the beans are graded on a scale based on the number of imperfections, age of the beans, and cup flavor characteristics. The high quality specialty grade Arabica beans used in our coffees are the top 2% of all Arabica beans.
The Roasting Process
Roasting coffee beans to perfection is an art as much as a science. Different types of coffee require different roasts to bring out their richest flavor.
- The first stage involves raising bean temperature to between 200 and 250F. The beans begin to lose moisture and change color to a pale yellow.
- When beans reach an internal temperature of 400F volatile oils are released that give coffee its distinctive flavor and aroma.
- Moisture is drawn out and the bean cells expand and break open, producing a crackling or snapping sound.
- The sugars caramelize, causing the beans to darken. Oils begin to appear on the bean's surface.
- Roast times range from 90 seconds to 35 minutes, depending on roasting equipment and degree of roast.
- Ending temperature ranges from 410 to 480F.
- Coffee is cooled by air cooling and water quenching that stops the roasting process.
Grinding has the most affect on the flavor of the coffee. Choosing the correct grind is critical for optimal flavor extraction. Grinding can be done at the roasting plant (as many Verena Street coffees are), in a retail store, coffee house or even at home before brewing.
Packaging the Bean
Proper packaging of coffee is the best defense against two of its natural enemies - air and moisture. Before packaging, coffee must also be degassed. Coffee beans release carbon dioxide for six to ten hours after roasting. If coffee is packaged and sealed before all the gases have escaped, the gases will be released inside the container.
After degassing, the beans are packaged in one-way valve bags. These one-way valve bags allow the carbon dioxide to escape through the valve without letting air or oxygen back in.
And the Rest is History
- You buy your favorite blend of Verena Street coffee online or in your nearest grocery store.
- You brew your coffee using your preferred grind and brewing method.
- You put that delicious brew into your belly!