Fire Department Coffee
Group of people learning how coffee is made

How Coffee Is Made: Step By Step From Bean To Cup

November 18, 2020

Ever wondered how coffee is made, what it looks like in the wild, and how on earth it gets from a plantation on the other side of the world to your mug? We can answer that! 

Let us tell you all about coffee production in a simple, jargon-free way!

1. Planting the coffee beans

Because unprocessed coffee beans are actually seeds, they begin their journey in shaded nurseries away from direct sunlight. They are then replanted in individual pots a few days after sprouting and, once they’re strong enough, moved to their permanent position.

The planting process works best during the rainy season to keep the soil moist.

2. Coffee harvesting

It can take around 3-4 years for those sprouts to turn into bushes with ripe, brightly colored coffee cherries. They can either be machine harvested or hand-picked following one of these two methods:

  • Strip picking, where all the cherries are collected off the branches;
  • Selective picking, where only the ripe ones are, and the farmers will go back every ten days to pick more. This treatment is usually reserved for high-quality Arabica beans.

While in most coffee regions there’s only one main harvest season a year, some countries have a main and secondary crop.

We believe that it’s important that the planting and harvesting process are carried out with respect for the environment and fair wages for these workers. That’s why at Fire Dept. Coffee we only partner with ethical and sustainable farms.

Coffee cherries before later coffee production stages

3. Coffee processing

Once the cherries are picked, the coffee processing phase can be carried out in two ways:

  • The traditional dry method (unwashed or natural) takes longer but is still popular in smaller farms or regions with water scarcity. The cherries are spread out and left to dry in direct sunlight for 15-20 days, regularly moved and raked, and covered at night until the now brittle outer layer can be removed easily;
  • The relatively more modern wet method relies on water to move the cherries, which then go through a pulping machine that removes the skin. Afterwards, they can either be sun- or machine-dried.

4. Coffee milling, grading and sorting

The coffee beans are hulled by removing their dried husk, polished (for higher quality beans) to remove any leftover sliver skin, sorted and graded based on their size and weight. 

5. Coffee tasting

Before being sent to roasters, the beans are checked through the coffee cupping process to define their quality and identifying its flavors, acidity levels, body and aftertaste.

Coffee cupping

6. Exporting the coffee

What can now be referred to as green coffee is then shipped to roasteries (yay!).

7. Coffee roasting

That’s where we come into play! The coffee roasting process consists of turning these green beans into the aromatic brown ones that you’re used to.

Depending on how long each batch is roasted for, you can obtain light, medium or dark roasts.

Coffee grinding process

8. Coffee grinding

Our coffee can either be purchased as beans or, if you value speed and practicality, as grounds. In the second case, we also take care of the grinding process for you.

9. Packaging and distribution

Finally, the beans or grounds are packaged and distributed to shops or, in our case, directly to your secret coffee stash. Freshness is key when it comes to flavor: that’s why we always roast our coffee to order and ship most of it on the same day.

Now that you know how coffee is made and the amount of care that goes into each plantation and batch, we bet your next cup of Fire Dept. Coffee will taste even more special!

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