I don’t know about you, but I drink a lot of coffee, my first drink of the day is always tea, simply because it’s more refreshing, but then it’s coffee all the way, i prefer proper ground and filtered but an quite happy with instant too, as long as it’s not the really cheap stuff.
The chances are if you have a cup it will be Brazilian or at least a blend which includes Brazilian, because they produce 30%, closely followed by Columbia. Equatorial regions are where coffee is grown as it’s a tropical plant which likes plenty of hot, damp, humid conditions to produce it’s small red berries which the coffee bean as we know it, is inside of. It does differ from many commercial crops though as the berries must be picked at the right moment for the full flavour to be produced when the beans are roasted, therefore it’s picked by hand to make sure that exact moment of perfect ripeness is achieved.
Once the flesh has been removed to expose the coffee bean inside, they are laid out to dry in the sun, this is usually done on flat roofs or on large flat areas of dry ground, as they dry they are turned to make sure they are dried properly.
It’s worth mentioning that although many coffee companies now insist on buying fairtrade coffee that not all companies are as ethical, so if you are concerned about this (as we all should be) make sure you look out for the fairtrade label when you buy. A popular one is the Jamaican blue mountain coffee
The roasting is next, the beans are often shipped to another country for this process, which is why you will have an Italian roasted coffee for example, it’s not that the beans are grown in that country, rather that the roasting, blending and possibly grinding processes are performed there. The real flavour is controlled when coffee beans are roasted and it is a very skilled and in many cases, well paid job. As the coffee beans are roasted, they start to pop, if the beans are taken out after the first popping noise, this produces a mellow lighter flavour, if however they are left in for longer and allowed to go much darker (like the ones you see in the local Costa coffee in those little trays, provided the kids haven’t got to them and mixed them all up!) this produces the deep rich flavours of stronger coffees such as espresso. One of the reasons that more expensive coffee is more expensive is not necessarily so much to do with the beans themselves as the roasting process. The longer the beans are roasted, the higher the chance that they will split, this means they need to be taken out as if they are left in and stored for any length of time they can go off and are no good for the brew.
So next time you are sitting outside your favourite coffee shop drinking that espresso, give some thought to the journey the beans have been on and the process which has made them into the worlds second most popular beverage.