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The Life-Cycle of the Coffee Bean

 Have you ever thought about where your coffee comes from? There`s a long an fascinating journey from the first shoots of a coffee bean plant to the delicious and reviving beverage which so many of us enjoy every day. Let`s take a look at the "lifecycle" of the coffee bean.

Coffee plants traditionally grow in parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa. There are two main plants in the genus Coffea which are used to produce coffee; these are C. canephora and C. arabica; C. arabica is the most common type of coffee to be traded around the world and its strong, rich flavour makes it a favourite with coffee connoisseurs. Coffee can be grown from seeds or from shoots and seedlings, though starting from scratch with seeds is the preferred method of growing coffee as this produces the highest quality trees. Top notch arabica coffee beans attract higher prices for coffee growers.

Coffee shoots should be grown out of direct sunlight, in a shady area with good drainage. In the early stages of growth, coffee requires plenty of care and attention to ensure that they are not stunted or choked by weeds. By eighteen months, the coffee plant will have reached heights of around 60cm (24in) and is ready to be transplanted outdoors. Because of the hot climate and bright sunlight in coffee growing regions, it is important that young coffee plants are gradually exposed to direct sunlight before they are transplanted; this gradual exposure generally takes place in the nursery and makes for strong, healthy coffee plants. The coffee harvesting season usually lasts between four and six months.

The coffee plant bears fruit which is green when unripe and a pretty bright red when ready for picking. These bright red fruits are known as coffee cherries. Once the cherries are ripe, they are picked - picking once took place by hand but is often done by machine nowadays. The coffee fruits are then sorted according to colour and ripeness and the flesh which covers the beans is removed and discarded. Once the beans have been separated out, they are washed and soaked to remove the slimy outer coating on the beans, in a process known as fermentation.

After fermentation, the coffee beans are dried thoroughly, either by being placed in the sun for 2-3 weeks, or using a drying machine which can dry the beans in under 36 hours. Once the beans are dried, they are ready for shipping to Western coffee consuming areas such as Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Once the beans have been shipped, they are roasted in a machine which reaches temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius (392F).

The roasted beans are now ready for distribution and sale; they can be purchased as beans or pre-ground. Buying whole coffee beans makes for the tastiest, freshest coffee. In today`s hectic world, it can be hard to find the time to enjoy the finer things in life. If you want to enjoy freshly ground coffee every day, you need a bean to cup coffee machine. These all-in-one grinders and coffee makers take the hassle out of grinding your own coffee, leaving you free to sit back and savour this delicious drink.

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