Coffee 101: A Basic Primer On How Coffee Is Produced

Coffee is arguably the world's most popular drink. But as beloved as this beverage is, most people don't know much about how the coffee plant is grown and processed. Here is a brief breakdown of the four steps required to produce your morning cup of java.


An unprocessed coffee bean is actually a seed. Life begins with a seed being planted at a coffee nursery, with care being taken to make sure it is protected from too much sunlight. When the seed sprouts, it is then transplanted to a container, where it continues to grow until it is established enough for permanent planting in shaded coffee tree forests.

Harvesting the Fruit

A coffee tree takes about 3-5 years to begin producing fruit, which are referred to as coffee cherries, as they look very similar to the familiar fruit. When the fruit is a deep red, they are ready to be harvested. In most coffee-producing areas, this work is performed by humans, but in some areas, it has become mechanized. The better coffees have their workers selectively pick only the ripened fruits by hand where machines aren't able to differentiate between ripe and unripe fruits.

Processing the Fruit

Coffee cherries can quickly spoil, so processing begins right away. It is done in one of two ways.

  • Dry Method

This involves laying the fruit out to dry in the sun. They are raked throughout the day to turn the fruit, ensuring they are evenly exposed to the air and sun. The tarps are covered at night to prevent dew or rain from getting them wet. This process can take several weeks and depends on the weather.

  • Moist Method

This process is more industrialized and is used where water availability isn't an issue. Machinery separates most of the fruit pulp from the bean. They are then put through water channels, with the heavier, ripe beans sinking to the bottom. The ripe beans are then soaked in water for a couple of days to remove any remaining fruit from the bean. They must then still be either sun-dried or dried in a commercial dryer.

After going through either process, these milled, green beans are now ready to be exported around the world.


Once the green beans reach their final destination, they are roasted to a temperature that varies between 385-473 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature they are roasted to determines whether they are considered a light roast, dark roast, or somewhere in between. The lighter the roast, the more the inherent flavors of the bean remain intact. The darker roasts get flavor from the roasting process itself.

Once the beans are roasted, all that's left to do is grind the beans and brew yourself the perfect cup of coffee. To learn more, contact a company like Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC.