Coffee is one of the most prized commodities around the world, some believe only second to oil. A coffee tree yields its maximum sometimes between its fifth and tenth year and may bear for about 30 years.

Climate:
The favorable climate for coffee plant is cool, moist, and frost-free. It grows well at higher altitudes in the tropics and subtropics. The temperature of about 75°F (24°C), well-distributed annual rainfall of about 50 in. (127 cm) with a short dry season should be maintained. The land should be fertile, deep, well-drained soil, especially of volcanic origin. Coffee is often grown in the shelter of taller trees because strong winds limit coffee production.

Plantation in Nursery

The beans obtained from coffee plants is the seeds for the cultivation of coffee. It can also be planted which will grow into a coffee tree. The coffee seeds are planted in large beds in shaded nurseries. After sprouting, the seedlings are removed from the bed and then planted in individual pots carefully in formulated soil. Watering should be done frequently and should be shaded from bright sunlight until they are grown enough to be permanently planted. Planting is done during the wet season so that the soil around the young trees remains moist and the root becomes firmly established.

Harvesting the Cherries:

For newly planted coffee trees, it takes around 3-4 year to bear fruit. The fruit is known as coffee cherry. When the cherry is ripe, it turns into bright and deep red and then it becomes ready for harvesting. And then it is ready to harvest. Hand-picking of coffee is labor-intensive and difficult to process. The coffee crop picked by hand is labor-intensive and difficult to process. Coffee is harvested in one ot the two ways:

1.

Strip Picked
At once, the entire crop is harvested. This is done by either hand or machine. All the cherries are stripped off of the branch at one time.

2.

Selectively Picked
The ripe cherries are harvested individually by hand. Pickers rotate among the tree every 8-10 days.

A good picker averages approximately 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherry a day, which will produce 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. The day's harvest is then combined and transported to the processing plant.


Processing the Cherries:

The coffee should be processed as quickly as possible to prevent spoilage. Coffee is processed in one of the two ways:

1. Dry method

It is practiced where water resources are limited. The freshly picked cherries are spread out on huge surface to dry in the sun. To prevent from damage, the cherries are raked and turned throughout the day, and covered during night, to save from getting wet in case of rainfall. This is continued for several weeks till the moisture content of the cherries drops to 11 percent. Then the dried cherries are moved to warehouse for storing.

2. Wet method

In this method, the pulp is removed from the cherries after harvesting and the beans are dried with only the parchment skin left on.

Initially, the freshly harvested cherries are passed through a pulping machine where the skin and pulp is separated from the bean. The pulp is then washed away with water, usually to be dried and used as mulch. When the beans are conveyed through water channels, the lighter beans float on the top and the heavier ripe beans sink to the bottom. Next they are passed through a series of rotating drums which separate them by size.
After that, the beans are transported to large water-filled fermentation tanks for 12 to 49 hours depending upon the condition of beans, the climate and altitude. This process removes the slick layer of mucilage that is attached to the parchment. After fermentation, the bean will be rough to touch. At that time, the beans are rinsed by sending through additional water channels and finally are ready for drying.


Drying the Beans

If the beans are processed by wet method, the pulped and fermented beans must be dried to approximately 11 percent moisture to properly prepare them for storage. Those beans still encased inside the parchment envelope can be dried under the sun. They can be also dried by machine. Once dried, the beans are kept in sisal or jute bag.


Milling the Beans

The parchment coffee is processed in the following manner and then exported

1)

Hulling
Machines are used to remove parchment layer from wet processed coffee. It removes the entire husk of the dried cherries.

2)

Polishing
Polishing machine removes any silver skin that remains on the beans after hulling.

3)

Grading and Sorting
The coffee beans are precisely sorted by size and weight. Also they are closely evaluated for color flaws or other imperfections.

  The bean size is represented on a scale of 10 to 20. The number represents the size of a round hole's diameter in terms of 1/64's of an inch. A number 10 bean would be the approximate size of a hole in a diameter of 10/64 of an inch and a number 15 bean, 15/64 of an inch. Beans are sized by being passed through a series of different sized screens. They are also sorted pneumatically by using an air jet to separate heavy from light beans.
After that, defective beans are removed. It is done by either sophisticated machines while the beans move along an electronic conveyor belt. This might include over-fermented beans, those with insect damage. This process is done both by machine and hand, insuring that only the finest quality coffee beans are exported.

4)

Exporting the Beans
The milled beans are known as "Green coffee". They are shipped in either jute or sisal bags.

Examining the taste of the coffee

Coffee is repeatedly tested for quality and tasted at each and every stage of production. This process is known as "Cupping". Firstly, the taster carefully evaluates the beans for their overall visual quality. The beans are then roasted in small laboratory roasters, immediately ground and infused in boiling water, the temperature of which is carefully controlled. The taster (cupper) smells the brew to experience its aroma. After letting the coffee rest for several minutes, the cupper breaks the crust by pushing aside the grounds at the top of the cup. Again the coffee is nosed before the examination of the taste begins. To taste the coffee, the cupper slurps a spoonful with a quick inhalation.

Roasting the Coffee

Roasting converts the green coffee into the brown beans. The brown beans are ready to sell in the market. The roasting machine maintains a temperature of about 550 degrees Fahrenheit. The beans are kept moving throughout the entire process to keep them from burning and when they reach an internal temperature of about 400 degrees, they begin to turn brown and the oil locked inside the beans begins to emerge. It is what produces the flavor and aroma of the coffee we drink. When the beans are removed from the roaster, they are immediately cooled either by air or water.