The coffee plant is an evergreen shrub that grows from sea level up to 6,500 feet in elevation, in approximately 60-80 countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Depending on the country, either an annual or semi-annual flowering will produce a crop of coffee cherries. Once the cherries have been harvested and processed, the cherry seeds are then sourced, roasted, and brewed for consumption. The wide variety of flavors found in coffee are directly related to the growing climate and processing method used to remove the cherry pulp from the seed.
Quality begins at the farm through carful plant variety selection, properly raised seedlings and thoughtful placement during planting. Coffee plants won't produce cherries until they are 4-5 years of age. During the initial growth period of the plants, farmers meticulously weed, prune and ensure the soil had optimal nutrients to produce quality fruit resulting in desired cup quality.
Harvest season varies from region to region. As coffee plants flower and produce cherries, the fruit must be picked at peak ripeness to ensure highest quality and flavor. Cherries ripen at differing rates requiring meticulous picking practices inclusing multiple passes to the same plant only harvesting ripe fruit. The fruit is then processed at a wet-mill in different ways before drying the seeds. Coffee seeds can be dried inside the cherry (natural), inside just the fruit mucilage (honey) or with just the protective parchment later (washed). Attentive care and oversight is crucial to quality.
After being dried and rested, the seeds are put through a series of machines that husk away the parchment layer and sort by density and size. High quality lots are often hand-sorted after machine sorting. Desired quality is determined by cupping or tasting the coffee in small samples. Once approved by the quality manager and buyer, the coffee is bagged, put in a container and shipped to the buyer's port.