Creating Speciality Coffee: from Bean to Cup

The process of creating awesome speciality coffees!

The world of coffee is always changing, testing out new funky methods and different varieties of crops, but have you ever wondered how speciality coffee goes from being a seed inside a cherry into your cup? Well then, I have good news for you. That’s what this blog is all about! Read on, friends, read on.

If you’ve been a Two Chimps troop member for a while or just joined the treehouse, you would have seen the word speciality coffee all over our website, probably alongside the words single origin and freshly roasted. All these aspects are incredibly important in the life cycle of our roasts and vital in why our roasts are the best. The process of creating our awesome speciality coffee is pretty cool, even though we do say so ourselves!

 

Speciality Coffee Nursery

 

The Cherry

Let’s start right at the beginning; say hello to the humble coffee bean, but not necessarily the one you are used to seeing. We are actually talking about the green beans, or should we say seeds? *pause for gasp*. That’s right, coffee beans are seeds found inside a cherry! You know the cherries you pick up from the supermarket, with that pesky stone in the middle? That is precisely what coffee beans are (but only from an extraordinary cherry plant, of course!) They grow like grapes in bunches and are more oval-shaped than the cherries you are used to. If you’ve ever seen rosehip growing in the wild in the UK, typically during Autumn, this is the best comparison.

Once planted, these seeds are kept in a shaded bed and frequently watered until they are strong enough to be moved to be permanently planted. This tends to be during the wet season, as the moist ground allows the roots to flourish and become firmly anchored to the ground.

 

Coffee Cherries

 

Harvesting

After 3-4 years, the trees will bear fruit, first flowering with beautiful white blossoms like any typical cherry tree. Once pollinated, eight months later, the fruit will be ready to harvest, becoming a deep red colour when ripe. There is, on average, one harvest per year, except in countries like Colombia, where they have two due to its location being on the equator. The best cherries are hand-picked, selecting only the ripest fruit, with a picker rotating around the same cluster of trees every ten days to be selective. A productive picker can collect 100-200 pounds of fruit daily, giving them 20-40 pounds of coffee beans.

However, when demand is high or intended for cheaper large-scale commodity coffee (yuck), the fruit will be strip-picked. This is where all the fruit is taken, regardless of how ripe it is. Machines will also be used for flat terrain areas to strip pick rather than hand pick. Once harvested, the fruit is transported to processing stations.

Find out what happens to the cherry that protected the beans during growing. 

Processing

The cherries have now arrived at the processing hub, and the coffee beans can be extracted wahoo! This is where things get exciting- we are one step closer to that hot cup of brew (happy dance). Coffee beans can be processed in two ways: natural or washed. You may have seen this on our coffee labels; we like to make it obvious which method has been used as it massively affects the overall flavour of the brew.

 

Naturally Processed Speciality Coffee

 

Natural processing is the traditional way to extract the coffee beans. As the name suggests, this is the raw and basic method, where the cherries are laid out to dry naturally, with the beans still inside. They are routinely turned to ensure even drying and to stop over-fermentation. This allows the coffee beans to infuse with all the fruity, funky flavours of the cherry flesh. Although most of our coffees aren’t processed with this method, we love these unique flavour attributes. Our half-caff, pink, and must-try are all naturally processed if you fancy giving them a go yourself! Once the cherries have reached the optimum moisture content of 10-12%, the fruit is pulped, and the beans are removed.

 

Uganda Beans getting Washed

 

Wet processing was formed in the 20th century due to the enhancement of technology and farming machinery. When the cherries arrive at a washing station, the beans are removed straightway, washed, and soaked in water. These beans are also hulled, which is part of the milling process. This removes the parchment skin and the fruit residue. They are then left to ferment and dry, creating a clean, fresh flavour in your cup. This tends to be more popular as the flavours are more consistent.

To read more about these methods, click here!

 

Polishing, Decaffeinating, Sorting and Grading

Polishing and decaffeination are not compulsory when it comes to coffee. The polishing process does what it says on the tin. This removes any dreads of the parchment layer which may remain. At this stage, whether a coffee will become decaffeinated is also determined. The beans are also sorted and graded on size and weight. Using air to blow at the beans, the lighter ones are pushed forward, landing in a separate container. The next machine shakes the beans through a series of mesh, sorting them by size. Any defective beans, such as unacceptable size or colour, are removed as this can affect their score. The beans are then bagged, transported, and stored.

 

Bagged Speciality Coffee

 

Creating Speciality Coffee

When creating speciality coffee, this would be impossible without the gruelling grading process. Speciality coffee is a new ball game in the caffeinated world; it’s truly in a league of its own. We aren’t just saying this; these coffees are graded by professionals in sensory evaluation of green coffee for Arabica and Robusta. They are labelled as Q Graders, which stands for Quality, as this is what they are marking in the coffee. They base their scores on multiple categories such as taste, aroma, mouthfeel, and body, as well as physical factors such as altitude, harvesting method and imperfections.

Not just anybody can become a Q Grader; you must pass a series of thorough tests that evaluate your sensory abilities. To score a coffee, it must be brewed and cupped. This way, they can mark the roast against all the relevant categories. We only source speciality coffees at Two Chimps, as we only want the best!

 

Coffee Beans Roasting

 

Roasting

This is where we step in! It’s our time to shine, folks- or, more specifically, our expert roaster, Jordyn! Before any of our coffees hit the shelf, Jordyn will roast the green beans in small batches before cupping with Head Chimps Andy and Laura, ensuring the flavours are top-notch. If you know how Two Chimps works, we categorise our coffees by label colour, with new coffees coming every 8-12 months. We try to match the roast style and flavour profile with each replacement coffee, so making sure the flavours are the best they can be is very important. Once perfected, the rest of the team will give them a try. With the TCC seal of approval, it’s ready for you, lovely lot! Wahoo!

There you have it, a rundown of how coffee goes from being the seed of a cherry plant right up to becoming Two Chimps speciality coffee!

 

If this doesn’t leave you craving coffee, I’m unsure what will! Shop our coffees below.

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