Journey of the Coffee Bean

10 steps from seed to cup

An unprocessed coffee bean is actually a seed. If you plant it in the ground it will grow into a coffee tree. But to maintain the plants genetic resistance against diseases, the farmers cut branches of the trees and plant them in a protected nursery. The young plants stay in the nursery for 9 months until their roots are strong enough to withstand the elements. Creating the right conditions for coffee trees is not an easy task. They need shade, nutrition and must be pruned carefully in order to give a rich harvest.

A coffee tree will start to produce berries after 3-4 years. On this mountain the harvesting season is from June to December. The maturing process is slow because of the high altitude, which contributes to the high quality of the beans. The berries mature from green to deep red colour. When ripe, they are selectively hand picked.

Immediately after harvesting, the outer skin is peeled of the cherry. This is done by using a manual pulping machine. To make the process smooth, water is poured while pulping. After this process is done the pulp is used as nutrition for new coffee trees.

After pulping, the beans go into a bucket of water. The beans which sink is considered good quality and are kept, while the floaters are separated from the rest of the bunch. We only use the highest quality beans for our coffee. And before they end up on the drying trays, they are washed several times to remove the sweet sugar coating on their outside, that would otherwise create a bitter flavour.

The beans are dried in the sun for several days until the moisture is only 11%. Once this is done the farmers pack them in big sisal bags. Kahawa (Wild Tracks) buys these bags from the farmers for 3 times the market price.

The beans are brought to a big coffee mill where they’re being processed by advanced machinery. The parchment layer is removed and the beans are polished (removing the silver skin). In this process the coffee looses 20% of its weight. Finally the beans are graded and sorted by size and weight. Defective beans are also being removed. We are now left with green beans that are ready to be roasted.

Cupping and Auction
All Tanzanian coffee must go through the coffee auction in Moshi. Before the auction the coffee is tested for quality and taste by expert cuppers. When the coffee goes on the auction, we buy it back from ourselves, outbidding anyone who tries to get a piece of our batch.

Roasting and Grinding
When the coffee is back in our village it is roasted in our small factory. Our expert roaster makes different levels of roasting ranging from light to dark. The longer the coffee is roasted, the more caffeine evaporates, so the light roasts actually contains more caffeine. During roasting another 20% of the beans weight is lost. After roasting the coffee is left to rest before some of it is grinded according to the customers needs. It might be grinded for a filter drip machine, a French press (plunger), or an espresso machine.

Immediately after packing the coffee in beautiful Tanzanian kitenge fabric bags (which is handmade in our factory), the coffee is sent from our small village to all over the world!

What roast and grind to choose depends on your taste and preferred brewing method. If the roast is dark and the grind is fine, the coffee should be prepared quickly, like espresso. If the grind is courser, the coffee may stay in contact with water for longer, like it does when the coffee is prepared by using a French press. With this method the preferred roasting level would also be lighter than espresso, such as our medium and French roasts.