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Specialty Coffee

Health & Wellness
By: Brooke R. and Olga G. October 20, 2017

When you stop by your local Raw Republic, you may notice a new addition to our stores… shiny, brand new coffee machines! We are excited to announce our partnership with Panther Coffee – Miami’s specialty coffee roasters. Currently we are serving classic offerings like espresso and almond milk latte’s, but in the near future we will be kicking it up a notch with signature beverages that will energize your mind, body, and spirit!

Our executive chef, Olga Gavrilenko, was recently traveling abroad and writes to us about her experience with specialty coffee from around the world.

“I am writing to you as I sit in the Himalayan Java Coffee House in Kathmandu, Nepal. It brings me back to 2012, when I similarly enjoyed speciality roasted coffee in Shangri La, China. Specialty brewed coffee has made itself popular around the world for the locals and tourists alike; offering an array of signature drinks from ristrettos to cappuccinos.

Many specialty coffee entrepreneurs share a similar objective of supporting farmers in developing countries through fair trade, while delivering their consumers high quality coffee that goes through a perfected process of roasting. South Florida’s own Panther’s Coffee does just that with a mission to source, roast, and prepare the finest coffees in the world, creating a transaction that is mutually beneficial for all participants.

When we sip on our coffee, we rarely consider how much went into creating that perfectly brewed cup. It is an extensive journey, starting from a small planted seed, ending with a perfectly designed foam topped beverage. Throughout the process, there are multiple stages during which it all can be ruined, and even one spoiled coffee bean can turn a pot of speciality coffee into a bitter tasting concoction.  

We often hear the term “regular” coffee, which is often ascribed to coffee of poor quality that is produced with lack of sustainability, and at the end of the day, literally leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

On the other hand, most cases of speciality coffee guarantee quality through all stages of the coffee production process, from seed to cup, and from flavor to the physical effects it has on your body.”

Below we will describe this unique process in detail, to provide more reasons as to why we went above and beyond to select only the best for Our (Raw) Republic!


GROWING:

  • Quality inspected coffee seeds are selected.
  • Unprocessed and vital coffee seeds are planted in large beds inside shaded nurseries; mostly during a wet season, so that the soil remains moist while the roots become firmly established.
  • The seedlings are watered frequently and shaded from bright sunlight until they are hearty enough to be permanently planted.

 

DID YOU KNOW? There are two different species of coffee: softer Arabica and Robusta, which is more bitter, but easier to grow. Roughly all speciality coffee comes from the top 10% of Arabica seeds.

 

HARVESTING:

  • Depending on the variety, it will take approximately 3 to 4 years for the newly planted coffee trees to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested.  
  • Coffee is mostly picked by hand, either “strip picked” or “selectively picked”. Strip picking is a quicker process but it also means all the berries of the tree are picked at the same time. Selective hand picking takes more time but gives better result, as only the beans that are just at the peak of ripeness are picked and raw beans left for later.
  • A good picker averages approximately 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries a day, which will produce 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. Each worker’s daily haul is carefully weighed, and each picker is paid on the merit of his or her work. The day’s harvest is then transported to the processing plant.

 

PROCESSING:

  • Once the picking is complete, the coffee has to be processed as quickly as possible to prevent spoilage, via dry, semi-dry or wet method.
  • When using the dry method, coffee beans are spread to dry onto a large surface and dried under the sun. In order to prevent the cherries from spoiling, they are raked and turned throughout the day, then covered at night or during rain to prevent them from getting wet. Depending on the weather, this process might continue for several weeks for each batch of coffee until the moisture content of the cherries drops to 11%.
  • In the wet method, the pulp of the bean is removed and beans are fermented in tanks and washed with great amounts of water. If done wrong, false fermenting and washing can give coffee impurities and a bad bitter taste that cannot be removed afterwards.
  • The wet method removes the pulp from the coffee cherry after harvesting so the bean is dried with only the parchment skin left on. First, the freshly harvested cherries are passed through a pulping machine to separate the skin and pulp from the bean.  
  • Then the beans are separated by weight as they pass through water channels. The lighter beans float to the top, while the heavier ripe beans sink to the bottom. They are passed through a series of rotating drums which separate them by size.
  • After separation, the beans are transported to large, water-filled fermentation tanks, where they will remain in these tanks for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to remove the slick layer of mucilage (called the parenchyma) that is still attached to the parchment.
  • When fermentation is complete, the beans feel rough to the touch. The beans are rinsed by going through additional water channels, and are ready for drying.

 

DRYING:

  • If the beans have been processed by the wet method, the pulped and fermented beans must now be dried to approximately 11% moisture to properly prepare them for storage.
  • These beans, still inside the parchment envelope (the endocarp), can be sun-dried by spreading them on drying tables or floors, where they are turned regularly, or they can be machine-dried in large tumblers. The dried beans are known as parchment coffee, and are warehoused in jute or sisal bags until they are readied for export.     

 

MILING:

  • Hulling machinery removes the parchment layer (endocarp) from wet processed coffee.  Hulling dry processed coffee refers to removing the entire dried husk of the dried cherries.
  • Polishing is an optional process where any silver skin that remains on the beans after hulling is removed by machine. While polished beans are considered superior to unpolished ones, in reality, there is little difference between the two.
  • Grading and sorting is done by size and weight, and beans are also reviewed for color flaws or other imperfections.
  • Beans are sized by being passed through a series of screens. They are also sorted pneumatically by using an air jet to separate heavy from light beans.
  • Finally, defective beans are removed either by hand or by machinery. Beans that are unsatisfactory due to deficiencies of unacceptable size or color, over-fermented beans, insect-damaged, unhulled are removed.

 

EXPORTING:

  • The milled beans, now referred to as green coffee, are loaded onto ships in either jute or sisal bags loaded in shipping containers, or bulk-shipped inside plastic-lined containers.

 

TASTING:

  • Coffee is repeatedly tested for quality and taste through the process referred to as cupping
  • First, the taster evaluates the beans for their overall visual quality. They start with smelling.
  • After letting the coffee rest for several minutes, the tester breaks the crust by pushing aside the grounds at the top of the cup. Smell first.
  • The taster’s last objective is to spray the coffee evenly over the taste buds, and then weigh it on the tongue to determine the final quality.
  • Samples from a variety of batches and different beans are tasted daily. Coffees are not only analyzed to determine their characteristics and flaws, but also for the purpose of blending different beans or creating the proper roast. An expert cupper can taste hundreds of samples of coffee a day and still taste the subtle differences between them.  

ROASTING:

  • Roasting transforms green coffee into the aromatic brown beans.
  • Most roasting machines maintain a temperature of about 550 degrees Fahrenheit and the beans are kept moving throughout the entire process to keep them from burning.
  • When they reach an internal temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, they begin to turn brown and the caffeol, a fragrant oil locked inside the beans, begins to emerge. This process called pyrolysis is at the heart of roasting it produces the flavor and aroma of the coffee we drink.  
  • After roasting, the beans are immediately cooled either by air or water. Roasting is generally performed in the importing countries because freshly roasted beans must reach the consumer as quickly as possible.

GRINDING:

  • The objective of a proper grind is to get the most flavor in a cup of coffee. How coarse or fine the coffee is ground depends on the brewing method. The length of time the grounds will be in contact with water determines the ideal grade of grind. Generally, the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared. That’s why coffee ground for an espresso machine is much finer than coffee brewed in a drip system.