Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Basic Training Part 1: Processing and Roasting

Over the past few months, I've written up a training manual for my new employees at Vida Coffee Co. After thinking it over, I think that this very basic knowledge of coffee could be better utilized posted and available for all those who are interested- you, the reader. So, this is what I have done. The first section focuses on the processing and roasting of coffee from its origins to the roasters.

Coffee is grown in four main areas around the world: Central and South America, Africa, Asia, specifically Indonesia. People in these regions must pick the coffee fruit from the trees by hand (the fruit looks something like a cherry and is often given this name). There are two main ways of initial processing employed by the coffee growers.

The first processing method is called the “dry” method in which the newly picked fruit is laid out in the sun to dry after the fleshy portion of the fruit is removed and the coffee bean is left by itself. After the unwanted debris are winnowed out of the bean product, the desirable beans are spread out on large concrete or brick patios to dry, sometimes taking up to four weeks; then they are shipped.

The second processing method is called the “wet” or “washed” method in which the newly picked and de-pulped fruit is dumped into water and allowed to soak. During the soaking, the coffee beans are sorted by size and density. The low quality, low density, beans are removed easily from the tub because they rise to the surface. The beans are then de-pulped further through a process of fermentation or machine washing. Either method removes any remaining pulp adhering to the bean's silverskin parchment jacket. The fermentation method requires significant monitoring so that the fermentation does not produce unwanted taste characteristics.

After the new batches of coffee are processed by their growers, they are packed and sold to coffee roasters. The “green beans” (coffee not yet roasted) are roasted according to each roaster’s standards. Larger coffee companies use enormous mega-roasters that are computer automated and have a lower roast quality due to their hands-off methods and huge quantities. The individual connoisseur could buy a batch of green beans and roast them on their own using a barbecue grill, but will oftentimes result in low quality coffee due to lack of appropriate equipment.

The answer to both of these imbalances is to find a roaster with the proper equipment and skill to provide the perfect coffee product. These roasters will usually employ barrel roasters that roast 50-100 lbs of coffee at a time. Coffee is checked frequently to oversee its roast progress, enabling the master roaster to achieve their perfect result. This is the type of roaster Vida Coffee Co. uses. After the coffee is roasted, it is air-cooled and shipped to coffee shops.

Lord, thank you for the great coffee, those who grow it, and those who roast it so well. I pray you would keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.

No comments:

Post a Comment