How coffee is made – material, manufacture, making, used, parts, machine, Raw Materials

Table of Contents1 Background 2 Raw Materials 3 The Manufacturing Process 3.1 Drying and husking the cherries 3.2 Cleaning and grading the beans 3.3 Decaffeinating 3.4 Roasting 3.5 Instant coffee 3.6 Packaging 4 Environmental Concerns 5 Where To Learn More 5.1 Books 5.2 Pamphlets 5.3 Periodicals Background Coffee is a […]


Coffee is a beverage made by grinding roasted coffee beans and allowing
hot water to flow through them. Dark, flavorful, and aromatic, the
resulting liquid is usually served hot, when its full flavor can best be
appreciated. Coffee is served internationally—with over one third
of the world’s population consuming it in some form, it ranks as
the most popular processed beverage—and each country has developed
its own preferences about how to prepare and present it. For example,
coffee drinkers in Indonesia drink hot coffee from glasses, while Middle
Easterners and some Africans serve their coffee in dainty brass cups. The
Italians are known for their


a thick brew served in tiny cups and made by dripping hot water over
twice the normal quantity of ground coffee, and the French have

café au lait,

a combination of coffee and milk or cream which they consume from bowls
at breakfast.

A driving force behind coffee’s global popularity is its caffeine
content: a six-ounce (2.72 kilograms) cup of coffee contains 100
milligrams of caffeine, more than comparable amounts of tea (50
milligrams), cola (25 milligrams), or cocoa (15 milligrams). Caffeine, an
alkaloid that occurs naturally in coffee, is a mild stimulant that
produces a variety of physical effects. Because caffeine stimulates the
cortex of the brain, people who ingest it experience enhanced
concentration. Athletes are sometimes advised to drink coffee prior to
competing, as caffeine renders skeletal muscles less susceptible to
exhaustion and improves coordination. However, these benefits accrue only
to those who consume small doses of the drug. Excessive amounts of
caffeine produce a host of undesirable consequences, acting as a diuretic,
stimulating gastric secretions, upsetting the stomach, contracting blood
vessels in the brain (people who suffer from headaches are advised to cut
their caffeine intake), and causing overacute sensation, irregular
heartbeat, and trembling. On a more serious level, many researchers have
sought to link caffeine to heart disease, benign breast cysts, pancreatic
cancer, and birth defects. While such studies have proven inconclusive,
health official nonetheless recommend that people limit their coffee
intake to fewer than four cups daily or drink decaffeinated varieties.

Coffee originated on the plateaus of central Ethiopia. By A.D. 1000,
Ethiopian Arabs were collecting the fruit of the tree, which grew wild,
and preparing a beverage from its beans. During the fifteenth century
traders transplanted wild coffee trees from Africa to southern Arabia. The
eastern Arabs, the first to cultivate coffee, soon adopted the Ethiopian
Arabs’ practice of making a hot beverage from its ground, roasted

The Arabs’ fondness for the drink spread rapidly along trade
routes, and Venetians had been introduced to coffee by 1600. In Europe as
in Arabia, church and state officials frequently proscribed the new drink,
identifying it with the often-liberal discussions conducted by coffee
house habitués, but the institutions nonetheless proliferated,
nowhere more so than in seventeenth-century London. The first coffee house
opened there in 1652, and a large number of such establishments


opened soon after on both the European continent


derives from the French term for coffee) and in North
America, where they appeared in such Eastern cities as New York, Boston,
and Philadelphia in the last decade of the seventeenth century.

In the United States, coffee achieved the same, almost instantaneous
popularity that it had won in Europe. However, the brew favored by early
American coffee drinkers tasted significantly different from that enjoyed
by today’s connoisseurs, as nineteenth-century cookbooks make
clear. One 1844 cookbook instructed people to use a much higher
coffee/water ratio than we favor today (one tablespoon per sixteen
ounces); boil the brew for almost a half an hour (today people are
instructed never to boil coffee); and add fish skin, isinglass (a gelatin
made from the air bladders of fish), or egg shells to reduce the acidity
brought out by boiling the beans so long (today we would discard overly
acidic coffee). Coffee yielded from this recipe would strike modern coffee
lovers as intolerably strong and acidic; moreover, it would have little

American attempts to create instant coffee began during the mid-1800s,
when one of the earliest instant coffees was offered in cake form to Civil
War troops. Although it and other early instant coffees tasted even worse
than regular coffee of the epoch, the incentive of convenience proved
strong, and efforts to manufacture a palatable instant brew continued.
Finally, after using U.S. troops as testers during World War II, an
American coffee manufacturer (Maxwell House) began marketing the first
successful instant coffee in 1950.

At present, 85 percent of Americans begin their day by making some form of
the drink, and the average American will consume three cups of it over the
course of the day.

Raw Materials

Coffee comes from the seed, or bean, of the coffee tree. Coffee beans
contain more than 100 chemicals including aromatic molecules, proteins,
starches, oils, and bitter phenols (acidic compounds), each contributing a
different characteristic to the unique flavor of coffee. The coffee tree,
a member of the evergreen family, has waxy, pointed leaves and
jasmine-like flowers. Actually more like a shrub, the coffee tree can grow
to more than 30 feet (9.14 meters) in its wild state, but in cultivation
it is usually trimmed to between five and 12 feet (1.5 and 3.65 meters).
After planting, the typical tree will not produce coffee beans until it
blooms, usually about five years. After the white petals drop off, red
cherries form, each with two green coffee beans inside. (Producing mass
quantities of beans requires a large number of trees: in one year, a small
bush will yield only enough beans for a pound of coffee.) Because coffee
berries do not ripen uniformly, careful harvesting requires picking only
the red ripe berries: including unripened green ones and overly ripened
black ones will affect the coffee taste.

Coffee trees grow best in a temperate climate without frost or high
temperatures. They also seem to thrive in fertile, well-drained soil;
volcanic soil in particular seems conducive to flavorful beans. High
altitude plantations located between 3,000 and 6,000 feet (914.4 and
1,828.8 meters) above sea level produce low-moisture beans with more
flavor. Due to the positive influences of volcanic soil and altitude, the
finest beans are often cultivated in mountainous regions. Today, Brazil
produces about half of the world’s coffee. One quarter is produced
elsewhere in Latin America, and Africa contributes about one sixth of the
global supply.

Currently, about 25 types of coffee trees exist, the variation stemming
from environmental factors such as soil, weather, and altitude. The two
main species are

coffea robusta


coffea arabica.



strain produces less expensive beans, largely because it can be grown
under less ideal conditions than the


strain. When served, coffee made from


beans has a deep reddish cast, whereas


brews tend to be dark brown or black in appearance. The coffees made from
the two commonly used beans differ significantly.


beans are generally grown on large plantations where the berries ripen
and are harvested at one time, thereby increasing the percentage of under-
and over-ripe beans.


beans, on the other hand, comprise the bulk of the premium coffees that
are typically sold in whole bean form so purchasers can grind their own
coffee. Whether served in a coffee house or prepared at home, coffee made
from such beans offers a more delicate and less acidic flavor.

Coffee bean harvesting is still done manually. The beans grow in
clusters of two; each cluster is called a “cherry.”
Next, the beans are dried and husked. In one method, the wet method,
the beans are put in pulping machines to remove most of the husk.
After fermenting in large tanks, the beans are put in hulling
machines, where mechanical stirrers remove the final covering and
polish the beans to a smooth, glossy finish.

After being cleaned and sorted, the beans are roasted in huge ovens.
Only after roasting do the beans emit their familiar aroma. The beans
are then cooled.

The Manufacturing


Drying and husking the cherries

  • 1 First, the coffee cherries must be harvested, a process that is still
    done manually. Next, the cherries are dried and husked using one of two
    methods. The dry method is an older, primitive, and labor-intensive
    process of distributing the cherries in the sun, raking them several
    times a day, and allowing them to dry. When they have dried to the point
    at which they contain only 12 percent water, the beans’ husks
    become shriveled. At this stage they are hulled, either by hand or by a
  • 2 In employing the wet method, the hulls are removed before the beans
    have dried. Although the fruit is initially processed in a pulping
    machine that removes most of the material surrounding the beans, some of
    this glutinous covering remains after pulping. This residue is removed
    by letting the beans ferment in tanks, where their natural enzymes
    digest the gluey substance over a period of 18 to 36 hours. Upon removal
    from the fermenting tank, the beans are washed, dried by exposure to hot
    air, and put into large mechanical stirrers called


    There, the beans’ last parchment covering, the pergamino,
    crumbles and falls away easily. The huller then polishes the bean to a
    clean, glossy finish.

Cleaning and grading the beans

  • 3 The beans are then placed on a conveyor belt that carries them past
    workers who remove sticks and other debris. Next, they are graded
    according to size, the location and altitude of the plantation where
    they were grown, drying and husking methods, and taste. All these
    factors contribute to certain flavors that consumers will be able to
    select thanks in part to the grade.

    To make instant coffee, manufacturers grind the beans and brew the mixture in percolators. During this process, an extract forms and is sprayed into a cylinder. As it travels down the cylinder, the extract passes through warm air that converts it into a dry powder.

    To make instant coffee, manufacturers grind the beans and brew the
    mixture in percolators. During this process, an extract forms and is
    sprayed into a cylinder. As it travels down the cylinder, the
    extract passes through warm air that converts it into a dry powder.

  • 4 Once these processes are completed, workers select and pack particular
    types and grades of beans to fill orders from the various roasting
    companies that will finish preparing the beans. When beans (usually


    are harvested under the undesirable conditions of hot, humid countries
    or coastal regions, they must be shipped as quickly as possible, because
    such climates encourage insects and fungi that can severely damage a
  • 5 When the coffee beans arrive at a roasting plant, they are again
    cleaned and sorted by mechanical screening devices to remove leaves,
    bark, and other remaining debris. If the beans are not to be
    decaffeinated, they are ready for roasting.


  • 6 If the coffee is to be decaffeinated, it is now processed using either
    a solvent or a water method. In the first process, the coffee beans are
    treated with a solvent (usually methylene chloride) that leaches out the
    caffeine. If this decaffeination method is used, the beans must be
    thoroughly washed to remove traces of the solvent prior to roasting. The
    other method entails steaming the beans to bring the caffeine to the
    surface and then scraping off this caffeine-rich layer.


  • 7 The beans are roasted in huge commercial roasters according to
    procedures and specifications which vary among manufacturers (specialty
    shops usually purchase beans directly from the growers and roast them
    on-site). The most common process entails placing the beans in a large
    metal cylinder and blowing hot air into it. An older method, called


    calls for placing the beans in a metal cylinder that is then rotated
    over an electric, gas, or charcoal heater.

    Regardless of the particular method used, roasting gradually raises
    the temperature of the beans to between 431 and 449 degrees Fahrenheit
    (220-230 degrees Celsius). This triggers the release of steam, carbon
    monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other volatiles, reducing the weight of
    the beans by 14 to 23 percent. The pressure of these escaping internal
    gases causes the beans to swell, and they increase their volume by 30
    to 100 percent. Roasting also darkens the color of the beans, gives
    them a crumbly texture, and triggers the chemical reactions that imbue
    the coffee with its familiar aroma (which it has not heretofore

  • 8 After leaving the roaster, the beans are placed in a cooling vat,
    wherein they are stirred while cold air is blown over them. If the
    coffee being prepared is high-quality, the cooled beans will now be sent
    through an electronic sorter equipped to detect and eliminate beans that
    emerged from the roasting process too light or too dark.
  • 9 If the coffee is to be pre-ground, the manufacturer mills it
    immediately after roasting. Special types of grinding have been
    developed for each of the different types of coffee makers, as each
    functions best with coffee ground to a specific fineness.

Instant coffee

  • 10 If the coffee is to be instant, it is I V brewed with water in huge
    percolators after the grinding stage. An extract is clarified from the
    brewed coffee and sprayed into a large cylinder. As it falls downward
    through this cylinder, it enters a warm air stream that converts it into
    a dry powder.


  • 11 Because it is less vulnerable to flavor and aroma loss than other
    types of coffee, whole bean coffee is usually packaged in foil-lined
    bags. If it is to retain its aromatic qualities, pre-ground coffee must
    be hermetically sealed: it is usually packaged in impermeable plastic

    aluminum foil,

    or cans. Instant coffee picks up moisture easily, so it is
    vacuum-packed in tin cans or glass jars before being shipped to retail

Environmental Concerns

Methylene chloride, the solvent used to decaffeinate beans, has come under
federal scrutiny in recent years. Many people charge that rinsing the
beans does not completely remove the chemical, which they suspect of being
harmful to human health. Although the Food and Drug Administration has
consequently ruled that methylene chloride residue cannot exceed 10 parts
per million, the water method of decaffeination has grown in popularity
and is expected to replace solvent decaffeination completely.

Where To Learn More


Davids, Kenneth.


101 Productions, 1987.


“More Fun With Coffee.” National Coffee Association.

“The Story of Good Coffee from the Pacific Northwest.”
Starbucks Coffee Company.


“From Tree to Bean to Cup,”

Consumer Reports.

September, 1987, p. 531.

Globus, Paul. “This Little bean is Big Business,”

Reader’s Digest

(Canadian), March, 1986, p. 35.

Source Article

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