When i'm not blogging my usual job is that of running a busy cafe in Ponsonby. Naturally this spawned an interest in growing my own Coffee beans as an interesting experiment. So in March 2013 i purchased my first of two Arabica Coffee trees. Coffee trees will grow fruits after three to five years, and will produce for up to 100 years.
It is only just now that my tree is starting to flower and starting to grow edible red fruits called "Cherries". In April the white starry flowers form in clusters along branches having a strong Jasmine like fragrance, followed by green, coffee cherries. The coffee cherries turn bright red for Christmas, ready to harvest. The fruit takes about 9 months to ripen. Coffee trees are also self-fertile.
The cherries contain two seeds, or "coffee beans", which are not actually beans. In about 5-10% of any crop of coffee cherries, only a single bean, rather than the usual two, is found. This is called a Peaberry which is smaller and rounder than a normal coffee bean. It is often removed from the yield and either sold separately (as in New Guinea peaberry), or discarded.
When grown in the tropics, coffee is a vigorous bush or small tree that usually grows to a height of 3m. Most commonly cultivated coffee species grow best at high elevations, but do not tolerate freezing temperatures. My tree is currently 1.5m tall.Arabica accounts for 80 percent of the world's coffee production. The other 20 percent is Robusta, It is high in caffeine but is generally regarded as an inferior cup quality to Arabica. It is used by many commercial coffee companies as a basis for instant coffee.
How to process your Beans.
1. Harvest your Cherries.2. Collect the deep red Cherries and soak them in water overnight. This allows the Cherries to give up the beans, easily the next morning.
3. Removing Slippery Layer: Back into the water to ferment where natural enzymes break down the slippery layer and remove it. This will take a couple of days.
4. Drying the Beans: The beans are dried on a paper towel in a sunny window. The beans need to loose 90% of their moisture. Test this by biting into a bean and if it is still soft and chewy place back in the sun to dry until hard and dry. This usually takes 14 days.
5. Removing the Parchment: Next remove what is called the Parchment, a thin paper skin. A little labour intensive with your fingers.
6. Roasting the Coffee Beans: Once the parchment is removed you have beans with a silver skin on them and this does not need to be removed to be roasted. At this stage you can store your beans in a sealed air tight container and roast as required. To roast use a cast iron frying pan and put on with the extractor fan. Once the pan is smoking in go the beans. Kept them moving and slowly they will change colour and start to make a cracking noise.