Images thanks to Daterra Estate
In the past we’ve talked about roasting green beans, the best conditions for growing the ultimate cherries on a coffee bush but today we’re going way back to the very beginning. That’s right, we’re looking at the life cycle of a green coffee bean (the heading may have given it away!)
Like any good ‘fruit’, the coffee bean or cherry begins its life as a beautiful flower. Then it’s time to pollinate and this happens one of two ways, depending on which plant you have. Arabica coffee plants are self-pollinating – the ultimate DIY, self-sufficient kinda thing, whereas Robusta plants need insects or the good old wind to get them pollinated. The flowers come out for only a few days then whither to reveal the node or the beginning of the cherry.
2. 8 weeks after pollination
Now this is where we get super-scientific, so pop on your lab coat and frizz up your hair, things are going to get nerdy! At this stage, cells start dividing in the coffee cherry and stay that way for about 2 weeks.
3. 10 weeks after pollination
Movement! Things start happening again after the cherry has had a bit of a sleep. So there are things called Locules in the cherry that hold (get ready for it) the ovaries! These Locules now start to swell rather quickly. The end result (ie how big it will swell to) all depends on how moist the soil is, the more rain the bigger the swelling.
4. Coffee bean arrives
That’s right, after all the swelling and growing, the coffee bean arrives on the scene, completely filling the cavity. The Silverskin or Intergument will become a thin layer around the coffee bean. The texture of the coffee bean is quite gooey like jelly.
5. 10 weeks of growth
The cherry pulp keeps growing and growing, absorbing so many nutrients from the tree that it growth slows down. Colours of the bean also change from green to yellow to red. Then it’s ready to be picked, dried and eventually roasted.
Click here to watch a this simple but awesome animation from Coffee Research. It’s a fascinating look at what actually happens inside a bean before it bursts forth into all its coffee glory. Take a look.
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