In the first post, we talked about the first three steps in taking coffee from seed to cup: planting, harvesting and processing the coffee beans. This month’s post will be focused on the next three steps in the process: drying, milling and exporting the coffee beans.
Step 4: Drying the Beans
As we mentioned last time, there are two ways a coffee farmer will process the beans: dry processed or wet processed. If the farmer has used the wet process, the pulped and fermented beans now need to be dried. The goal is to hit 11% moisture so they can be prepared for storage.
Wet processed beans still have the parchment layer (the endocarp) and can be sun-dried by spreading them on drying tables or floors. Similar to the dry processed method, the beans need to be turned regularly. Once they are dry, the beans get stored in jute or burlap bags.
Step 5: Milling the Beans
Prior to shipping the dried beans off to coffee roasters, coffee farmers process the parchment coffee following these steps:
- Hulling: This requires the use of a machine to remove the parchment layer (endocarp) from the wet processed coffee. If we’re hulling dry processed coffee, the entire dred husk (exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp) is removed.
- Polishing: An optional step, polishing is where any silver skin that remains on the bean after hulling is removed by a machine. There’s really no difference between polished and unpolished beans. Cameron’s buys a mixture of both!
- Grading & Sorting: The next part of the milling process is to grade and sort coffee by size and weight. The beans also get reviewed for color flaws or other imperfections. This step is a series of scans. Typically, the bean size is represented on a scale of 10 to 20, the number represents the size of the diameter. But we don’t need to get too technical here.
During this process, the defective beans are removed usually by both hand and machinery. Coffee beans can be deemed unsatisfactory due to size or color, or if they’re over-fermented, insect damaged or unhulled. Here at Cameron’s, we really want to ensure we’re only receiving the finest quality coffee beans, so we work with farmers who are extra attentive through this process!
Step 6: Exporting the Beans
After the coffee beans are mulled, they are referred to as green coffee. They got this name because after drying and mulling, that’s the color that they appear! The burlap bags full of green coffee are then loaded onto shipping containers. Fun fact, each jute bag of green coffee typically weighs about 60 kg, or 132 lbs.
We hope you’re enjoying learning more about the process of how your cup of coffee came to be! Please be on the lookout for the next installment in this series!