• Tia Brown

The Truth About Quality Coffee

Researching for a simple "list of coffee facts" took an unexpected turn. For the worst or for the better, I'm not really sure. One thing is certain: my "quality" coffee will never taste the same again!

I fancied myself a coffee expert: get the more expensive coffees, get the whole beans for better flavor, and use a French Press if you want to get the maxim health benefits. If you really want to go all out, try an organic brand.

I thought I knew how to make a good cup of coffee. The truth shocked me.

Here is the truth about real quality coffee that nearly turned my whole morning routine upside down.

First, we'll briefly dive into where coffee comes from and how it goes from seed to your cup. Then we will discover the benefits and hazards of those processes, and why they matter.

From Seed to Cup: the Basics of Coffee

Coffee is the seed of a fruit, called a coffee cherry.

Coffee and chocolate are sometimes grown together because the chocolate trees shade the coffee. They are often harvested at the same time.

Coffee plants take 3-4 years before they will make cherries. I thought of growing my own coffee plant until I found this out. I don’t know if I could be that patient!

They are harvested by hand or by machine. The best method is picking only the best ripe beans one at a time by hand. A fast method is stripping each branch of beans, either by hand or machine.

The next step is processing. There are two ways to do this: wet or dry. In the dry method, the coffee cherries are simply spread out to dry. In the wet method, the cherries are separated mechanically from the bean and then fermented in water.

After being rinsed and dried, they are put through hulling machinery to remove everything left of the cherry off of the beans. Then a polishing machine ensures that they are clean and shiny for the next step: grading and sorting.

Some coffee producers are pickier than others when separating the bad beans from the good beans. Some do it by machine, some by hand, some both.

The best beans are then shipped to Tasters (you can actually taste coffee for a living!!). The Tasters receive a sample of a few of the roasted beans and carefully judge it for quality and—of course—taste. They just try coffee all day long. Sign me up!

Now for my favorite part of the process: roasting. The beans arrive green and come out as that dark brown coffee bean we know and love. And the smell! I’ve heard just the smell of freshly roasted coffee is to die for!

When I researched all of this, at first I just shrugged. Okay, that's cool. So what? But the more I dug, the more I realized that HOW the coffee gets to my cup matters tremendously!

To save some time, I'll skip to the good stuff.

Here's the secret behind healthy, quality coffee:

  • Organic: No chemicals!

  • Shade-grown

  • Individually hand-picked

  • Dry processed

  • Small batch, carefully roasted

  • Whole bean

  • Fresh roasted

Why are these important?