Do you know where your coffee comes from? If you have only known coffee from the supermarket, then you are in for a treat because today we are going to show you where coffee starts from — the coffee cherry!
Now, if you drink freshly roasted coffee, then you may know a little bit about cherries and beans, but do you know much about the actual cherry and the plant it’s grown on?
The different parts of the coffee cherry have an impact on the processing method and on your coffee’s final profile.
Today we are going to look at the anatomy of the coffee cherry so we can really understand and appreciate those beautiful coffee flavours we have come to know and love.
Let’s Look at the Coffee Plant
The first thing we need to understand is that the bean, which is what you grind and roast, is the actual seed of the cherry. A coffee plant produces coffee cherries, and inside the cherries are the beans.
The trees are covered in beautiful dark green leaves that have a waxy look to them. You will then notice that the tree is covered in beautiful red cherries.
The Anatomy and Layers of the Coffee Cherry
The coffee cherry has many layers and in this post, we are going to look at each one. This is where the process comes from when your beans go from the tree to their process stations.
There are washing stations, drying stations and more because each layer has to be dealt with before we get to the actual bean.
The outer layer of the coffee cherry is called the exocarp. It is green until it ripens to a bright red, yellow, orange, or even pink, depending on the variety.
Next, once the outer layer is removed, you will run into the pulp, or a thin layer called the mesocarp. This layer along with another layer is the sweet layers with sugar in them and they are needed during the fermentation process when processing the cherries.
After all of this, you finally will reach the coffee seeds, known as the endosperm, but most everyone else will know them as beans.
Each cherry will usually have two beans inside and each one is covered by a thin epidermis known as the silverskin and a papery hull called the parchment or the endocarp.
When the beans go through the milling process, the parchment is usually removed and what you are left with are gorgeous green coffee beans ready for roasting.
How This Affects Your Coffee
Most of the time, the coffee cherry skin and fruit are usually discarded. However, many times, these are dried and turned into cascara for other products.
There are different processes out there to remove the skin and pulp from the coffee beans. These processes are what develop each flavour of the coffee. Each method has an effect on the flavour and profile of the final coffee.
For example, washed coffee has all of the fruit flesh removed before drying. But in natural coffee, the fruit flesh is removed after drying.
In honey and pulped natural processing, the skin and sometimes part of the pulp is removed before drying but the remaining pulp and other layers are removed after the process.
If you leave the pulp on, you wind up with a sweeter coffee. Washed coffees have clean, more consistent flavours that can show off a lot of acidities. Natural coffees have a lot more fruitiness, sweetness, and body. If you do not watch this process carefully, you can get some really bitter flavours and you do not want that.
Now that you understand a little more about what the coffee cherry is and how it affects the flavour profiles of the coffees you drink, you will be able to appreciate the process more.