I have a coffee plant. I've had it for about 7 years and it is now chest-high. Two years ago it bloomed, and shortly after it produced a few green cherries.
My coffee plant is a little worse for wear. A typhoon will do that to you.
But a typhoon almost killed the plant — we were travelling and the plants were all outside — and it nearly killed the plant. This is why it looks so bare and lopsided; it lost most branches in the typhoon.
You get these delicate, beautiful white flowers along the branches for just a few days. Each flower is blooming for perhaps only a day or so. My plant doesn't really have the strength to put out a lot of flowers, but the ones I do get are beautiful.
Amazingly, it recovered and last spring it once again put out a few beautiful white flowers for just a week or so. A couple of weeks after the end of the bloom it produced about a dozen cherries. They have been maturing over winter and I harvested them a few weeks ago. In all I got 11 cherries. This is fine; I'm just happy the plant is alive and able to produce any at all.
Each flower site will bud a few cherries like this. They take about 8-10 months to turn red and ripen fully.
The coffee "bean" that we use is the seed of the coffee cherry. There's a couple of ways to process coffee, but the most common is the "wet process", or "washed coffee". There is also a "dry" or "natural" process; and a "semi-washed" process but wet process is most common.
My bountiful harvest! 11 cherries.
You dump the cherries in water and remove any floating ones (I don't; I'm not willing to lose 2 out of 11 beans); remove the skin and most of the pulp; ferment for 24-36 hours to make the remaining slimy mucilage easy to remove; wash; then dry for at least a week. I've checked out several web pages and videos, but the best one is this: How To Wet Process Coffee.
Wash and depulp
We wash the cherries and remove the pulp. Normally you do this with a machine, but as I doubt Ritsuko would agree to getting a coffee depulper for a total of 11 beans, I do it by hand. You effectively lightly crush the cherry so the skin and flesh splits open and you remove the seed inside. Each fruit usually has two seeds each; if you only have one that makes it a "peaberry". Peaberry coffee is beans that were a single seed. I got a total of 24 beans (I think two of them had three beans).
The pulp is gone but the seeds are still covered in slimy mucilage. Wash them, then leave in water for a day or a day and a half. Enzymes from the skin will break down the slimy mucilage so we can easily wash it away.
Wash the beans a few times, rubbing them together to remove all the gunk left on the surface. I should have left them to ferment another half a day I think; there was still a bit of mucilage stuck to them at the end. I guess that makes this a "semi-washed" coffee.
Dry the beans
Dry beans. They're coated in "parchment", a dry shell similar to the shell of a peanut or pistachio.
The beans need to dry for at least a week in an airy place. Real coffee producers dry them on a fine net or cloth suspended above ground in the sun. I just put them on a clean tea towel and make sure I rotate them every day.
Dehulling and Roasting
I manually cracked open the parchment with my fingernails and removed the bean. With a bigger harvest I'd need a better way to do it. One way is apparently to stuff them into a hose or inner tube, then roll and crush them from outside.
The beans are dry. They still have two layers outside the bean itself: the silver skin and the parchment. The parchment is like a woody shell outside the beans itself, and we need to remove it before we roast. There's various ways, from specialized machinery, to using a bicycle inner tire. For 24 beans, though, the easiest way is to just pry open each bean with a thumbnail then remove the bean itself.
Green beans. If we let then sit they'll slowly turn light grey, which is how you usually see them if you buy unroasted beans.
The final amount is 2.6g of green coffee. That's not a lot. These beans are small and have fairly low density as they've grown near sea level. That means they'll roast really quickly. I knew that, and I still managed to over-roast them a little; it went so fast towards the end. We got 2.0g roasted coffee beans in the end. I let it sit for 3 days to degas a little.
Roasted beans. A bit dark for my taste; they're small and light so they went from a light roast to this in maybe 20 seconds or so.
Enjoy our Coffee
We've ground the coffee. It's a small glass and it's close up, so it looks much coarser than it really is. Still, a better grinder would have been nice to have.
Time to enjoy the fruits of a year of (very little) work! But how do you even brew 2g of coffee? Carefully, is the answer. I ground it medium:ish with my crappy manual grinder into a clear glass, then poured 34g of water just off the boil on top for about 1:17 coffee to water. That's a bit more water than I usually use, but will help discern the flavours in the cup. After a couple of minutes I poured it though a fine sieve into an espresso cup (then split in two so Ritsuko could also taste).
A well-deserved cup of coffee.
How did it taste? Surprisingly good! It's not bitter, there's a fair amount of body, and quite a bit of sweetness. More of an earthy coffee rather than a floral one. I'd be happy to enjoy a full cup of this coffee if I could. I don't know the species, but the balanced flavour and lack of aftertaste makes me think this is Arabica, not Robusta.
Finally, just as I was preparing the coffee, my plant has put out a new round of flowers. It seems I'll get to enjoy another cup again next year!
thank you, that was fascinating..ReplyDelete
too cold for coffee trees here in CO, my wife has a lemon tree in a pot, that I carry in and out seasonally.. its small white blossoms look much like the coffee ones oddly. It is blooming now indoors. We thought of moving it out but yesterday's hailstorm was not encouraging..
You probably can have a coffee plant. People keep them as indoor plants sometimes, but they probably won't bloom. If you bring it outside during summer it might really thrive - you have the high altitude they like after all.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed reading this. I could picture you and Ritsuko san having a great time!ReplyDelete
A lot of work for very little coffee... But yes, we had fun doing this!ReplyDelete
Great post. The flowers are beautiful!ReplyDelete