What we refer to as coffee beans are in fact seeds from cherry-like fruits. Coffee trees produce coffee cherries that begin yellow in colour, they then turn orange and finally to bright red when they are ripe and ready for picking.
Coffee cherries grow along the branches of the coffee tree in clusters. The exocarp is the skin of the coffee cherry and is bitter and thick. The mesocarp is the fruit beneath and is intensely sweet with a texture much like that of a grape. Then there is the Parenchyma, this is a sticky layer almost honey-like which protects the beans inside the coffee cherry. The beans are covered in the endocarp, a protective parchment-like envelope for the green coffee beans which also have a last membrane called the spermoderm or silver skin.
On average there is one coffee harvest per year the time of which depends on the geographic zone of the cultivation. Countries South of the Equator tend to harvest their coffee in April and May whereas the countries North of the Equator tend to harvest later in the year from September.
Coffee is usually picked by hand which is done in one of two ways. Coffee cherries can all be stripped off the branch at once or one by one using the method of selective picking which ensures only the ripest cherries are picked. rijo42 gourmet coffee beans are picked using the selective picking process ensuring only the best coffee beans reach your cup.
Coffee pickers can pick between 45 and 90kg of coffee cherries per day however a mere 20% of this weight is the actual coffee bean.
Immediately after picking our coffee cherries must be processed. There are two methods of processing, our coffee cherries are processed with what is referred to as the ‘wet process’.
Under the wet process, the pulp of the coffee cherry is removed from the beans within 24 hours of harvesting the coffee. A pulping machine is used to wash away the outer skin and pulp; beans are then transferred to fermentation tanks where they can stay for anywhere up to two days. Naturally occurring enzymes loosen the sticky parenchyma from the beans.
rijo42 coffee beans are then dried naturally by sunlight.
The dried coffee beans or ‘green coffee’ then undergo another process called hulling which removes all of the layers. Coffee beans are then transferred to a conveyor belt and graded in terms of size and density.
Once graded, the beans are packed in hessian sacks and sent for roasting.
The coffee roasting process transforms the chemical and physical properties of green coffee beans and is where the flavour of the coffee is fulfilled.
Green coffee beans are heated using large rotating drums with temperatures of around 288°C. The rotating movement of the drums prevents beans from burning. The green coffee beans turn yellow at first and are described as having the aroma an aroma similar to popcorn.
The beans ‘pop’ and double in size after around 8 minutes that indicates they have reached a temperature of 204°C, they then begin to turn brown due to coffee essence (inner oils) emerging. Pyrolysis is the name for the chemical reaction that produces the flavour and aroma of coffee as a result of the heat and coffee essence combining. Anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes later a second ‘pop’ occurs indicative of the coffee being fully roasted.
Coffee roasting is an art form within itself, coffee roasters use their senses of smell, sight and sound to ascertain when coffee beans are roasted perfectly. Timing is fundamental in the coffee roasting process as this affects the flavour and colour of the resulting roast. Darker roasted coffee beans will have been roasted for longer than lighter coffee roasts.
All rijo42 coffee beans are packed immediately after roasting using Nitrogen to ensure maximum freshness, coffee bags are also fitted with pressure release valves.
They are then packed into boxes, palletised and dispatched from our roasting house in Spain to rijo42 HQ.