Nutrition Meets Food Science

The Journey of Coffee from Bean to Cup

Coffee is the most popular beverage consumed all over the world. Younger or older, everyone enjoys drinking coffee as it refreshes our mind and makes feel energetic. The morning is incomplete without a hot cup of coffee. Even the aroma of the coffee makes feel fresh.

Coffee is made from two types of coffee beans, Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. This bean undergoes through many processes until it comes to our cups. Coffee Arabica is most widely consumed across the world as Arabica tends to have a smoother, sweeter taste, with flavour notes of chocolate and sugar.

Excited to know how this coffee comes to your cup? Let’s go through the amazing journey of our favourite drink from a bean to our everyday life.

Why we all enjoy drinking coffee? Its because of the caffeine present in the coffee.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a bitter substance present naturally in coffee beans. It is found naturally in tea, coffee, chocolates and many soft drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant which increases our activity of brain and nervous system thus helps to stay alert and prevent tiredness. Caffeine has been linked to many health-related benefits like: Helps to prevent Type 2 diabetes, promotes heart health, improves mood and brain function, helps decrease the risk of cancer, etc.

The U.S Food and Drug administration (FDA) has recommended not more than 400 mg of caffeine a day (which means about 4-5 cups of coffee a day), which is a safe amount of caffeine for healthy adults to consume daily. If caffeine is consumed in large amount it can have negative effects on the health like insomnia, anxiousness, anxiety, upset stomach, nausea, headache, etc.

How this Coffee is processed?

Processing of Coffee:

HARVESTING: Harvesting is done, depending upon the colour of the cherries. They have berry like appearance and start as green, small and unripe fruits. Once it gets matured the cherries typically turns red. Only ripe cherries are harvested. Red colour indicates that the cherries are ready to be harvested. Each healthy tree produces approximately 2,000 coffee cherries a year.

What happens after the cherries are harvested?

There are 2 methods of processing the cherries: The wet method and the dry method.

WET METHOD: Almost 50 percent of coffee in the world is produced by wet method as it is fast as compared to dry method. In this method the ripe cherries are placed into the pulping machine that removes the pulp from the cherries. It takes less time as compared to dry method. After this method the bean goes for fermentation.

FERMENTATION: Fermentation is a very important process. It is important for the development of flavour which everybody enjoy. During fermentation many chemical and enzymatic reaction takes place which is very important for the flavour generation. Fermentation is done by placing the cherries into a large tank for about 2-3 days. This method removes the remaining pulp from the cherries and only the beans are left.

DRYING: After fermentation, drying is the most important step as it prepares the bean for the next processing steps. Drying is carried out in the sun for about 8-10 days or mechanical dryers can be used which will reduce the time of drying. Coffee produced by wet method is known as Parchment coffee.

DRY METHOD: In this method, after harvesting, the cherries are placed in mechanical dryers like rotary dryer, drum dryer, etc. Now a day’s sun drying have been replaced by mechanical dryers due to faster processing. Drying helps to remove the outer skin and the moisture is reduced to more than 11%.

HULLING THE BEANS: After drying the beans are hulled in order to remove the outer skin. This can be done manually or by the hulling machine. A hull is a papery layer surrounded around the coffee bean, thus hulling is done to remove this layer from the bean.

All these processes are carried out on the field, but this is not enough, the journey is not yet complete.

So, let’s dive into the remaining processes that takes place at the industry or coffee processing plant.

ROASTING: Roasting is carried out in the roaster machine at a temperature from about 180°C to 250°C. Drum roaster is most widely used for roasting of coffee. During this process, colour of the bean changes into dark colour due to the caramelization of sugar and also development of flavour & aroma takes place. It is very important process as the colour of the final coffee depends on roasting. There are 4 types of roasts: Light roast (light brown colour at 180 to 205°C), Medium roast (brown colour at 210 to 220°C), Dark roast (dark brown at 225 to 230°C) & Extra dark roast (black colour at 240 to 250°C).

GRINDING: Grinding of beans is done in a grinder. The purpose of grinding is to extract the flavour of the coffee and to increase its solubility. The grind size of coffee ranges from very coarse to very fine depending upon the choice of coffee drinkers.

PACKAGING: Packaging is also important to maintain the taste and freshness of the coffee, if not packed properly then the flavour will be destroyed and it can become moist which is not acceptable. Coffee is often packed in glass jars, pouches, plastic containers, paper bags, etc.

Now, let’s see what are the different types of coffee:

Instant coffee: Instant coffee is obtained by concentrating the mixture of ground coffee and water heated (under pressure) at 175°C. It can be done by various drying methods like Freeze drying, Spray drying, etc. This coffee is more soluble and gets easily dissolved in liquid. Advantage of instant coffee is its speed of preparation as compared to any other coffee.

Granulated coffee: This is the coffee which is obtained by simply grinding the coffee beans to a desired size. It takes more time to brew as compared to Instant coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee: Decaffeinated coffee also known as decaf coffee is regular coffee except the caffeine has been removed. In this 97% of caffeine has been removed. The beans are decaffeinated before they are roasted and ground.

Coffee Uses:

  • As a flavouring in food industries for Cakes, Bakery products, Ice creams, Beverages, Chocolates, etc.
  • Pulp of the cherries can be used to make beverages and juices.
  • Coffee is also used in some Alcoholic drinks like Whiskey, etc.

So, enjoyed the process of this beautiful journey of coffee from a bean to cup? It travels a long distance until it comes to our cup. It undergoes many processes and steps so that we can enjoy our favourite drink. So, enjoy your coffee & have a brewtiful day and let’s not forget about the efforts taken to make it.


Ms. Samreen Shaikh

Jr. Food Technologist, PFNDAI

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