Welcome to this new blog series on the Ntaba Coffee Haus website! This series is called From Farm to Cup and will explore aspects of coffee science: farming, processing, grading, roasting, cupping, and brewing. Throughout the series there will also be some brew method tips for you to make coffee from home, since you don’t have to be a professional to brew good coffee. Today we are starting by exploring how coffee is grown. So, settle back, sip some coffee, and enjoy this From Farm to Cup blog experience.
From Farm to Cup is the Ntaba Coffee Haus slogan, but this slogan means more than just words on a page. Coffee farming is an incredibly detailed and specific process. Not many people know about how coffee is grown or the many steps that need to happen for coffee to become the drink that is cherished and consumed all over the world. At Ntaba Coffee Haus, we love spreading knowledge and joy about our freshly roasted African coffee, and it all starts from a historical introduction.
Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia in the 11th Century when a goat shepherd noticed his goats eating this particular berry and becoming extremely energetic. After that, he told some monks and soon word spread far and wide about the amazing energy berries. The discoverers and first drinkers of coffee unironically called it “qahveh khaneh” which means wine of the bean.♦1 At the time there was no better way for coffee to be described than something similar to wine. So, what do these berries grow on and how do they grow?
Coffee is grown on two types of trees, Arabica and Robusta. Over time, Arabica has become considered the finest of the two coffee trees. Arabica is more sought after for the taste by specialty coffee shops that are more locally owned and managed. Because we fall into this group of shops, we will focus on the Arabica coffee trees. The trees are grown by seeds in nurseries and take at least 6-12 months to start producing fruit. However, coffee farmers usually wait 3 years until a new plant will produce the quality of fruit that is desirable for sale. Many of you may be confused at what I just said. Fruit? Yes, fruit. Coffee is actually a fruit and not a bean. Technically considered a cherry, the coffee fruit is green before it matures and changes into a darker red when ripe. When the fruit is ripe the coffee is then handpicked from the trees and it begins its crazy journey to becoming the drink we all love and appreciate. ♦2
Check in next week as we dive into what happens to coffee after it is picked from the tree! From Farm to Cup really is quite an amazing experience!
◊ Written by Andrew Watson, Manager at Ntaba Mellwood, v60 lover, and Interstellar‘s #1 fan
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♦1 – Milos, Giorgio. “Coffee’s Mysterious Origins.” The Atlantic, 8.6.2010, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/08/coffees-mysterious-origins/61054/.
♦2 – Hoffman, James. “The World Atlas of Coffee.” Octopus Books, 10.4.2018.