How Coffee Is Made: The Full Process From Seed To Cup

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Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages, enjoyed by millions of people every day.

But have you ever wondered how that steaming cup of coffee is made?

From the fields where the beans are grown to the roasting process and the final preparation, there are many steps involved in creating the perfect cup of coffee.

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of coffee and explore the various stages of its production, from the bean to the cup.

Whether you’re a coffee lover or simply curious about how your favorite beverage is made, read on to discover the fascinating process behind the creation of coffee.

Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?

The coffee beans that we use to make our daily cup of joe come from the Coffea plant.

This plant is native to Ethiopia, specifically the region of Kaffa, where coffee gets its name.

According to a popular legend, a goatherd named Kaldi noticed that his goats became more lively after eating the berries of a certain bush.

This discovery was the start of the long history of coffee.

Although coffee originated in Ethiopia, it was first found in the mountains of Yemen.

The coffee plant was exported to the rest of the world through the port of Mocha, Yemen.

The first coffeehouse was established in Istanbul, Turkey, in the 16th century.

By the 17th century, coffee was introduced to Europe and the Americas.

The Dutch were the first to bring coffee to Europe, while the French were the first to introduce coffee to the New World.

Today, coffee plants are grown across the globe, with Brazil being the largest producer of coffee.

Other major coffee-producing countries include Colombia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The quality and taste of coffee can vary depending on where it is grown and the specific type of coffee bean.

Is Coffee a Fruit?

Coffee lovers might be surprised to know that coffee is not just a beverage, it’s also a fruit!

Coffee cherries are classified as fruits because they contain seeds that are processed into roasted beans.

Coffee plants are evergreen trees that bear fruits resembling red or purple cherries when ripe.

Although the fruit is not typically eaten, it is part of the plant that holds the seed that is processed into the roasted coffee bean.

Therefore, the coffee we drink and enjoy is also considered a fruit.

The coffee cherry contains two beans that are covered in a parchment-like envelope.

These beans are removed from the fruit, washed, and dried to prepare them for roasting.

The roasting process transforms the green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans that we know and love.

The flavor and aroma of coffee can be influenced by various factors, including the type of coffee bean, the roasting process, and the brewing method used.

The fact that coffee is a fruit might come as a surprise to many coffee drinkers.

However, it’s an important aspect to consider when thinking about the health benefits of coffee. Coffee cherries contain antioxidants and nutrients that are beneficial for our health.

In fact, coffee fruit extract has been used in various health supplements and skincare products for its antioxidant properties.

How Is Coffee Processed?

Coffee processing is an essential step in the journey from harvested coffee cherries to the roasted coffee beans that we use to make our favorite beverages.

There are three main methods for processing coffee:

Natural (also called the dry process), Washed (also called the wet process), and Honey (also called pulped natural). Each method creates a unique flavor profile in the final cup of coffee.

Natural Process

The natural method is the oldest and most traditional method of coffee processing.

In this process, the entire coffee cherry, including the seed, is dried in the sun.

The cherries are spread out in thin layers to dry, allowing the fruit’s natural sugars to ferment and create a fruity, sweet flavor in the final cup.

This process can take up to three weeks, and the cherries must be turned frequently to ensure even drying.

Once dry, the dried cherry is removed, and the beans are sorted and prepared for roasting.

Washed Process

The washed method involves mechanically removing the fruit flesh from the coffee bean before the beans are dried.

The cherries are first pulped using a machine, which removes the outer skin and fruit pulp, leaving only the coffee bean.

The beans are then placed in fermentation tanks to remove any remaining mucilage.

After fermentation, the beans are washed to remove any remaining debris, and then they are dried.

This method results in a cleaner, brighter flavor profile in the final cup of coffee.

Honey Process

The honey process is a hybrid of the natural and washed processes.

In this method, the skin and some of the fruit’s pulp are removed, but a sticky layer of mucilage (referred to as “honey”) remains on the bean.

The beans are then dried with the mucilage still attached, resulting in a flavor profile that combines the sweetness of natural processing with the acidity and clarity of washed processing.

The honey process requires careful monitoring during the drying process to ensure that the beans do not over-ferment or become too dry.

The Coffee Milling Process: Wet and Dry Milling

After the coffee is harvested, it goes through various processing stages before it is ready for roasting and brewing.

One of the critical steps is coffee milling, which involves removing the parchment hull from the green coffee bean.

There are two primary methods of coffee milling: wet milling and dry milling.

Wet Milling

Wet milling is a more expensive and time-consuming process used to produce high-quality coffee.

In wet milling, the coffee beans are processed while they are still wet, as they have just been harvested. This process involves several steps, including:

  1. Recollection
  2. Pulping
  3. Fermenting
  4. Washing
  5. Drying
  6. Thrashing
  7. Selecting

Dry Milling

Dry milling is a simpler and less expensive method used in places where conditions do not allow for high-quality crops.

In dry milling, the coffee beans are processed after they have been dried.

This process involves the following steps:

  1. Hulling
  2. Polishing
  3. Sorting
  4. Packaging

Drying and Quality Control

Both wet and dry milling processes heavily depend on the drying process, as proper milling results rely on the coffee beans attaining the desired moisture content after drying.

If the beans are not dried enough, they can develop mold or become rancid during storage.

If they are overdried, they can lose flavor and aroma.

After milling, the coffee beans are graded, cupped, roasted, ground, and brewed to create the final coffee beverage.

The Coffee Roasting Process

Coffee roasting is an important step in the coffee-making process that significantly impacts the final flavor and aroma of the coffee.

The process involves three main stages: drying, roasting, and cooling.

Drying Stage

The drying stage is the first step in the roasting process, which involves preheating the green coffee beans to remove any moisture content.

This process is crucial to ensure that the beans roast evenly, as moisture can cause the beans to roast unevenly and affect the flavor and aroma of the coffee.

Roasting Stage

The roasting stage is where the magic happens.

The green coffee beans are heated in a roasting drum at temperatures ranging from 200-230°C for up to 15 minutes.

During this stage, chemical reactions occur within the beans, causing them to change color and develop their unique flavors and character.

There are several stages of roasting, and each stage creates a different flavor profile in the coffee.

For example, a light roast has a light brown color, a milder flavor, and more acidity.

In contrast, a dark roast has a darker color, a bolder flavor, and less acidity.

The roasting process is also characterized by two distinctive “cracks.”

The first crack occurs when the beans reach a certain temperature and release moisture, causing a popping sound.

This is when the beans start to develop their characteristic coffee flavor.

The second crack occurs when the beans reach an even higher temperature and release more moisture, creating a second popping sound.

At this point, the beans are considered fully roasted, but they can continue to roast even further.

Cooling Stage

The final stage in the coffee roasting process is the cooling stage, where the roasted beans are rapidly cooled to stop the chemical reactions and prevent over-roasting.

This stage is crucial to ensure that the beans do not continue to cook after they have been removed from the heat source, as this can affect the final flavor and aroma of the coffee.

The primary methods of cooling are air or water quenching.

Coffee Cupping: Evaluating the Qualities of Coffee

Coffee cupping is a process used to evaluate the quality and characteristics of coffee.

This method involves observing the fragrance, aroma, flavor, acidity, body, balance, uniformity, and cleanliness of the coffee.

This method is commonly used by coffee professionals such as producers, importers, roasters, and baristas, as well as enthusiasts who want to develop their coffee palate.

The Process of Coffee Cupping

The coffee cupping process begins with a visual inspection of the dry coffee beans.

The beans are then ground, and the fragrance is evaluated.

The coffee is then brewed and tasters deeply sniff the coffee before slurping it from a spoon.

Slurping the coffee helps to aerate it and spread it across the tongue, allowing the tasters to better evaluate the various sensory aspects of the coffee.

Evaluating the Coffee

During the tasting, the tasters evaluate various aspects of the coffee, including body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste.

They also attempt to identify the coffee’s origin based on the flavors present.

As the coffee cools, the tasters continue to evaluate the taste, as flavor perception changes with temperature.

The Goal of Coffee Cupping

The goal of coffee cupping is to conclude the merits and/or shortcomings of the coffee based on the evaluation.

This information can be used to select the best coffee beans, determine the ideal roast profile, and create blends that highlight specific flavors and aromas.

The process of coffee cupping is essential in the coffee industry to ensure that high-quality coffee beans are selected, roasted, and brewed to produce the best possible coffee experience.

Ship, Grind Then Brew

The process of bringing coffee from the farm to the cup does not end with roasting.

Shipping, grinding, and brewing are equally important steps in ensuring that coffee lovers get the best possible flavor and aroma from their cup of coffee.

Shipping: Ensuring Freshness

Once the coffee beans are roasted, they need to be packaged and shipped to consumers or retailers.

It is crucial to ensure that the coffee beans are fresh when they reach the end consumer.

To maintain freshness, some companies roast the beans on the same day of shipping.

This helps to guarantee the freshest taste for the consumer.

Grinding: Releasing Flavor and Aroma

Grinding coffee beans is an essential step in the brewing process, as it releases the flavors and aromas locked inside the beans.

It is recommended to grind coffee beans immediately before brewing to preserve the maximum flavor.

Investing in a quality grinder and grinding your own coffee at home can significantly improve the taste of your brewed coffee.

Brewing: Methods and Techniques

There are various brewing methods, each producing a different taste profile.

Some popular methods include AeroPress, pour-over, and French press.

The choice of brewing method depends on personal preferences and the type of coffee beans used.


Coffee is a beloved beverage that has a rich history and an intricate process of production.

From the planting of the coffee seed to the final cup, coffee production involves the expertise of many individuals who strive to bring the best possible quality and flavor to the beans.

The methods of processing, milling, roasting, grinding, and brewing all play an essential role in creating the distinct flavors and aromas that coffee enthusiasts enjoy.

As we continue to appreciate the art and science of coffee-making, we can deepen our understanding of this beloved beverage and the people and processes behind it.

Whether enjoyed alone or shared with friends, a cup of coffee can bring joy and connection to our daily lives.


How coffee is made step by step?

Here are the essential steps involved in how coffee is made from seed to cup:

  1. Planting: Coffee beans are planted and germinated, producing a sprout within six weeks. The young plant is nurtured in the nursery for 4-8 months before being planted at the farm.
  2. Harvesting: It takes seven to nine months for coffee cherries to grow, and they are harvested within three to five months.
  3. Processing: Coffee cherries are processed using different methods such as washed, natural, or honey processing to remove the fruit and dry the seeds.
  4. Milling and Hulling: The dried seeds are milled to remove the parchment layer and hulled to remove the silverskin.
  5. Grading and Cupping: Coffee beans are graded based on their visual appearance, size, origin, and other factors. Cupping involves assessing the taste and aroma of brewed coffee.
  6. Exporting: Green coffee beans are packed into bags and transported to shipping docks for export.
  7. Roasting: Green coffee beans are roasted at specific temperatures and durations to develop their flavors and aromas.
  8. Grinding: Roasted coffee beans are ground into various levels of fineness, depending on the brewing method.
  9. Brewing: The ground coffee is brewed using methods such as pour-over, French press, or espresso to extract the flavors and create the final beverage.

What is coffee made up of?

Coffee is made up of several components, including water, caffeine, carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids.

The exact composition and flavor of coffee can vary depending on factors such as the type of coffee bean, where it was grown, how it was processed, and how it was brewed.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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