Did you know where coffee comes from?

Coffee originated in Ethiopia, where a shepherd named Kaldi noticed that his goats became hyperactive after eating the fruit from a coffee plant. He took the berries to the priest, who said they were cursed and suggested he throw them into the fire. The smell that was released when the beans were burnt was so good that Kaldi decided to try it. It did not taste good, he then tried crushing them and adding water, this improved the flavour and also gave the same energizing effect.

Colombia is the third largest coffee producer in the world behind Brazil and Vietnam. We visited the coffee region in Colombia and went to a coffee finca (farm) to learn about the history of coffee and how it is made.

First a coffee seed is planted into the ground. It takes around three to four years for the plant to reach maturity. It produces white, Jasmine smelling flowers which last for three days.  Once the flowers die small berries are produced, these are known as the coffee fruit.

The fruit starts off green and when ripe and ready for picking changes colour to either red or yellow. Not all the fruit ripens at once so picking must be done carefully to ensure only the ripe fruit is picked.

Once picked, the fruit is put into a pulping machine to separate the skin from the beans. Most coffee berries contain two stones with their flat sides together known as coffee beans, some berries contain a single seed, this is called a Peaberry and is stronger than the other beans.

These beans are covered in a slimy layer called mucilage, they now go through a cleaning process in water, naturally the beans will sink, however any beans that float are damaged either by insects or infection and are taken out.

The beans are then put through a drying process – if done in an electric dryer this can take 1 -5 days, if done outside in the sun it can take 12 -14 days.

Once dry, the beans are sorted using a series of sieves with various hole sizes separating the normal coffee from the Peaberry beans.

The final step is to roast the beans, this is done in a roasting machine which has its temperature set to around 190 degrees Celsius. The beans are rotated in this machine for around five to ten minutes until they start to pop, indicating they are ready. The coffee beans swell to double their size in this process.

They now are cooled and sorted to ensure all are evenly roasted discarding any that are burnt or too green. They are now ready to be packaged or ground.

It takes around 25 – 30 beans to make one cup of coffee and it is third most drunk beverage in the world behind water and tea.

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