Unlike money, coffee really does grow on trees. But much like money, from the tree to your cup, it takes long hard work to get it there.
Like many things in our lives, we often take a cup of coffee for granted, but did you know that your coffee travels around the world before it reaches you? For some of us who live and breathe within a 10 square mile radius, our coffee is worldlier than we are. I believe that knowing how your coffee came into being may not only expand your appreciation for the drink, it may encourage you to appreciate many other things in your life as well.
From the tree to your cup, the coffee preparation process is a complicated one so remember; I am only presenting the rudimentary basics here. Below you will find some links to further explore, if you wish to do so. Come along with me on a short journey to where your cup of coffee begins.
Coffee is grown in Africa, Asia, North and South America where the climate and soil is optimal. The coffee bean is really a seed that is found in the fruit of the coffee tree. The fruit looks much like cherries. When the fruits are ripe they are picked from the tree in different ways that include hand or mechanical methods.
The average coffee tree only produces 1 to 1 ˝ pounds of coffee. Considering how much coffee some of us drink and the fact that it takes a coffee tree about five years for it to produce beans ready for harvesting, this is astounding. Imagine a section of the coffee trees in the world roped off to provide enough coffee just for you. People who have rather large daily coffee habits might need a section roped off equal to the size of a small country.
The beans are then processed by two methods; wet or dry. In the dry method, the entire fruit is dried in the sun. In the wet method most of the fruit and hull is removed before it is dried.
After processing, which includes cleaning and sorting, the beans are shipped to commercial roasters. Some coffee companies have their own roasting plants. Many people like to purchase their beans raw and/or whole, to be roasted and/or ground at home. At any rate, coffee beans should be used soon after roasting. Once roasted, the beans are ground, packaged and shipped.
While I have simplified this process greatly, make no mistake; not only did your coffee travel around the world, from growth to shipping it took at least five years to arrive.
So whether you are enjoying your first or your tenth cup of coffee for the day, savor it like you would a fine wine and appreciate it as you would a precious gem because although it does grow on trees, getting coffee to your cup is a long and arduous task.
Gayle Santana is the Coffee Editor at Bella Online http://www.bellaonline.com/about/coffee