From Seed to Cup

This page from the National Coffee Association offers a concise 10-step overview of the journey a typical coffee seed makes, from coffee seed to seedling to what we drink. I’ve made a few notes below, details regarding Bea’s Knees Farm coffee for each of NCA’s steps.

(1) Planting

Grandpa used to find his own young volunteer trees that sprouted from seedlings, and plant them as needed, e.g., when a mature tree died or was under-performing. The volunteers tended to be near rock walls, where beans/seeds would fall and not get picked up.

Several small coffee seedlings that sprouted from fallen coffee seeds/beans.

These are some volunteer coffee seedlings in my mom’s pot. Please follow the delicate stems from the right side of the photo. (1) This is a coffee seed starting to sprout. (2) This seedling can already be transplanted since it has its second set of leaves. The second set are its “real” leaves and looks like the commonly seen coffee leaves. (3) This seedling only has its first set of leaves.

Nowadays, for replacements we would not use these pulapulas (coffee seedlings pulled from the ground). We use young grafted Kona Typica trees from a nursery.  The root stock is semi-nematode resistant, and the tree will likely live longer than a non-grafted tree.  Coffee root-knot nematodes are another problem Grandpa didn’t have to deal with. 

(2) Harvesting the Cherries

We have several harvests and we selectively pick.  Last year we had 7 flowerings, 3 selective pickings from early September through mid-November, and one final strip pick by hand.  The strip pick is done to control coffee borer beetle, and wasn’t good quality and didn’t go into our estate coffee.

(3) Processing the Cherries

We use the wet method (also described as washed).  The parchment ferments overnight before drying.

(4) Drying the Beans

Our beans are sun-dried, then finish-dried in a dryer.  At this point, the beans have been dried from the outside of the bean, in.  By letting the coffee rest at the parchment stage, the moisture gets a chance to equalize throughout the bean.  The parchment rests in a light-, temperature- and humidity-controlled area. How long it rests is another one of those tweak-able variables.  Most of the moisture probably equalizes in a matter of days, but some people like it to rest a minimum of 60 days.

(5) Milling the Beans

(6) Exporting the Beans

According to the University of Hawaii CTAHR July 2014 article, The Economics of Coffee Production in Hawai’i, “Hawai‘i’s production of coffee makes up only 0.04% of total world production.” [emphasis mine]

(7)  Tasting the Coffee

We don’t do this.  This would be done as part of the certification process by the Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture.  Certification is required for green coffee shipped out of the area of production. 

(8) Roasting the Coffee

(9)  Grinding Coffee

My thoughts:

(10) Brewing Coffee

The following cold brew post is a bit wordy and detailed. Sorry.

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