Bringing the Bean to the Customer

As part of the “Make” team, farms were especially interesting because they are where the supply chain begins. They make the crop that other companies down the line use. Visiting the coffee, banana, and pineapple plantations, I learned that the processes to grow, or, make each crop contain a lot of checks and balances. Coffee farms produce coffee cherries, but to grow quality cherries, many farms we visited used their own homemade compost and natural fertilizers. This adds an extra level of detail to the making process because instead of just planting trees and harvesting the fruits once it is time, there is all year round work that needs to be done to maintain a healthy, productive farm.

These farms will then send the cherries to processing mills for them to be stripped and turned into golden beans. Some farms like Doka does this on site, but other farms don’t have the technology to do this process. The process that we saw was wet hulled where the coffee cherries go through a series of 7 machines where they are stripped of their shell and sorted into good or bad. I never knew how complex this process was until I saw it in person. These machines we saw were from the 1800s too which is a feat of engineering The next step that processing mills do to make the golden bean is drying. Many chose to sun dry the beans as it is sustainable, but ovens are sometimes used when it isn’t ideal weather. The dried beans are then packaged and sent to coffee roasters and retail stores/cafes.

The coffee roasters make the roasted beans that people buy. They receive beans from processing mills and roast them. They roast the beans from about 13 to 17 minutes to achieve a light, medium, or dark roast. The way Cafe Britt explained it was that they waited for the coffee to first pop. This would be a light roast. They would then wait 2 more minutes for a medium roast and then once it pops again, the coffee would be a dark roast. I neveer knew how much of a science it was to obtain the desired roast. Cafes would then turn these roasted beans into the coffee drink and sell them to customers like me. Different cafes will keep some of the roasted beans and sold packaged.

Being a customer, I buy the coffee from cafes, but there is no more making involved with the customer stage unless you count adding milk and sugar to the drink. Overall, the “Make” process of coffee farming is involved in almost all stages.

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