Today we will learn more about natural coffee beans – in which countries they are cultivated, what tastes, how many pounds of beans are collected from one bush, etc. But, surprisingly, the common expression “coffee bean” is biologically incorrect, coffee beans are not the beans at all! From this perspective, coffee beans are neither beans nor nuts.
Despite their common name, coffee beans aren’t actually beans or nuts, which might come as a surprise to many people. In fact, they are classified as seeds.
A bean is defined as a mature seed of a leguminous plant, such as a kidney bean or a soybean. Nuts, on the other hand, are a type of fruit that has a hard, woody shell that encloses a single seed, such as an acorn or a hazelnut. Coffee, however, is not classified as legumes or nuts.
Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee plant’s fruit, which is commonly referred to as a coffee cherry. When the coffee cherry is ripe, it is harvested, and the outer layers are removed to reveal the two seeds (or coffee beans) inside. These seeds are then roasted and ground to make the coffee that we all know and love.
Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee plant’s fruit, which is commonly referred to as a coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are small evergreen trees or shrubs (Marena family), the birthplace of coffee is Africa, growing in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, in the area between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Some of the largest producers of coffee include Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Honduras, and Uganda, among others.
Coffee plants are typically grown at high altitudes in rich, well-drained soil with consistent rainfall, and they require a temperature range of 60-70°F to thrive. They can grow up to 30 feet tall, but most are pruned to around 10 feet to make harvesting easier. Coffee plants have dark green, glossy leaves that are about 4-6 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. The leaves are arranged in pairs on the stem, and the new growth is a lighter shade of green.
It takes about 3-4 years for a coffee plant to start producing fruit, and they can continue to produce for up to 20 years.
Coffee plants produce small, white, sweet-smelling flowers that grow in clusters at the base of the leaves. The flowers are followed by green berries, which grow in clusters on coffee trees and are round or oval in shape. Their size is usually comparable to that of a grape or cherry, and their color varies from green to red or yellow depending on the coffee variety and maturity. When fully ripened, a single fruit contains one to four beans, which range in color from pale green to light brown. The beans have a small almond-like shape and size.
A single coffee bush can produce anywhere from a few pounds to over 10 pounds of coffee beans per year, depending on various factors such as soil quality, climate, and farming practices. However, the average yield per bush is typically around 1-2 pounds per year.
Preparing for Consumption
When the coffee cherry is ripe, it is harvested, and the outer layers are removed to reveal the coffee beans inside. These seeds are then roasted and ground to make the coffee that we all know and love. There are several different processing methods that can be used to prepare the beans for roasting and consumption. These include the natural or dry process, the washed or wet process, and the honey or pulped natural process. Each method produces beans with a slightly different flavor profile, and some coffee aficionados have strong preferences for one method over another.
Coffee beans is often tested for quality by professional coffee tasters, who evaluate the flavor, aroma, acidity, body, and overall balance of the coffee beans. These professionals are known as “cuppers,” and they use a standardized rating system to grade the coffee’s quality.
Video: Growing Coffee In Containers & Our First Harvest