CELEBRATING THE SEED-TO-CUP JOURNEY
Ever wonder what goes into a perfect cup of coffee? They say each bean is touched over 22 times before it’s consumed, which makes drinking coffee a celebration that should not only be savored, but shared.
The seed-to-cup journey is truly something special. It’s amazing to see how much time, commitment and heart goes into your morning cup!
Yes, this is how a coffee tree actually sprouts! It pushes the seed (or what we refer to as the bean) up through the soil as the roots begin to form. After a little while, a pair of leaves will emerge through the seed and push it apart, and then the “bean” will fall to the ground.
It’s special to be reminded that there’s life in coffee – yes, after drying and roasting, the germ dies – but to think that the entire coffee industry and millions of lives revolve around a seed is mind blowing.
It takes 4-5 years to produce the first crop of a coffee plant, while the land on which it grows will produce fruit for about 25 years.
Each coffee plant has a yield of 1-2 pounds of roasted coffee. To put that into perspective, it takes 2,000 cherries (5 lbs) to produce one pound of roasted coffee. So in one year, a 2-cup-a-day drinker will consume the annual harvest of 18 coffee trees!
Did you know that this is how coffee grows? The coffee beans used to make your morning cup of joe are actually the seeds inside of these coffee cherries.
The red ones are ready to be harvested, while the green ones still need more time to ripen up. This is why coffee is so often picked by hand!
Coffee cherries turn a bright, deep red when they’re ripe and ready to be harvested. It’s within this essential time frame that they must be picked in order to produce a high quality cup.
A good picker averages approximately 100-200 pounds of coffee cherries a day! This will produce 20-40 pounds of coffee beans. Understanding the labor-intensive work behind each cup makes us appreciate each sip a little bit more.
Once the coffee has been picked, processing must begin right away to prevent fruit spoilage. Depending on location and local resources, coffee is processed in one of two ways:
In the DRY (natural) method, the freshly picked cherries are spread out on huge surfaces to dry in the sun (which makes for an ideal napping spot for this little guy! ^^). In order to prevent the cherries from spoiling, they’re raked and turned throughout the day for several weeks until the moisture content drops to 11%. The result on taste? Naturals tend to have more fruit and fermented flavors because the bean has more time to interact with the sugars from the cherry as enzymes break down the mucilage around the bean.
The WET (washed) method removes the pulp from the coffee cherry after harvesting so the bean is dried with only the parchment skin left on. The result on taste? Washed coffees are prized for their clarity and vibrant notes. Removing all of the cherry prior to drying allows the intrinsic flavors of the bean to shine without anything holding them back.
While processing methods likely aren’t something you consider when choosing your go-to coffee, this distinction really has an impact on how “fruity” versus “classic” the flavor profile in your cup will be. Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, you might want to consider sticking to dry/natural processed coffees!
Coffee beans have a natural barrier called the parchment layer that protects them from environmental changes. Removing this layer requires a delicate but abrasive approach in order to be efficient without damaging the bean. Once milled, the “green coffee” beans are graded and sorted before they’re ready for export.
Turning a raw seed into a dynamic, water soluble bean is both an art and a science. It’s at this stage of the process that the flavors in your resulting cup are shaped and the promise of the green bean is fulfilled.
Roasting requires both craft and instinct, as well as attention to smell, appearance, and sound. By carefully planning how much heat the bean gets during various phases, you can accentuate particular characteristics, mute others, and even develop the mouthfeel and body of the beverage. Becoming a skillful roaster is no easy task, which is why we’re thankful for the experts we’ve had the opportunity of getting to know since we began our Wanderup journey!
Every great cup of coffee starts with a fresh grind!
Believe it or not, you can have the highest quality coffee, the perfect roast, pure water, premium filters and an excellent coffee maker and still ruin it all with an incorrect grind. But don’t let your woes stop you! Some basic knowledge about coffee grinding goes a long way toward helping you achieve that perfect brew.
Regardless of your brewing method, the basic goal of grinding coffee is the same: break down the roasted bean to expose the interior and allow the right amount of oils and flavors to be extracted. Ground coffee has much more surface area than whole bean coffee, allowing water (the extraction agent) to make contact with more coffee when brewing. More contact means a more vibrant, flavorful cup!
The main “rules” of coffee grinding are:
- Grind your coffee right before you’re ready to brew
- Choose the right grind size (fineness/coarseness)
- Select and use a high quality coffee grinder
- Keep your coffee grinder clean
Stay posted for more on grinding tips and check out our Wandercup grinder to help you achieve that perfect cup every time!
Coffee is personal- the “right” way to make it is however you like it best!
Today with all the new and progressive coffee brewing options available, you might have a tough time deciding on just one method as your go-to. Cold-drip? Pour over? An AeroPress brew? You may swear by French Press, but unless you’ve tried them all, how do you really know what you’re missing?
Since there are so many ways to achieve an amazing cup, check out our coffee series, which covers each of the different brew methods in depth.
At last, our favorite step of the process!
Knowing the labor of love behind the coffee you drink makes savoring each sip even more special. For over 600 years, coffee has changed the world politically, socially and intellectually. It’s a beverage that brings people together and fuels us to achieve amazing things.
We hope you enjoy your cup a little extra today!
Sonam & Dan