Coffee is a Fruit - Part 2

Picking up on the former post, it's always a joy to drop the line with coffee friends, "Did you know that coffee is actually a fruit?!?" There is always this pause of silence as they contemplate, "how can that be?"

What we consider coffee, whether as a drink or as a bean or as a ground powder, has a common point of reference: the brown, fibrous, fragrant roasted coffee seed or "bean". Well where do seeds come from - trees with fruit of course. Let's take a closer look at that Fruit-Seed combo and learn how this whole thing works.

A small army of coffee seedlings preparing to supply the world with amazing coffee. As a plant coffee is part of the  Rubiaceae family and enjoy tropical to subtropical environments. There are 2 major classifications of coffee known as "Robusta" and "Arabica". Robusta grow in lower elevations and can survive harsher environments. Arabica are more delicate preferring highlands and yielding more pleasant coffee flavors and qualities than their low-lying cousin.

A small army of coffee seedlings preparing to supply the world with amazing coffee. As a plant coffee is part of the  Rubiaceae family and enjoy tropical to subtropical environments. There are 2 major classifications of coffee known as "Robusta" and "Arabica". Robusta grow in lower elevations and can survive harsher environments. Arabica are more delicate preferring highlands and yielding more pleasant coffee flavors and qualities than their low-lying cousin.

A coffee tree in bloom. Notice the way the blooms grow across the branch. This is only one type of flower found on one cultivar. There are many varieties of coffee shrubs each with a unique growing region, specific flower, noticeable fruit quality, etc.

A coffee tree in bloom. Notice the way the blooms grow across the branch. This is only one type of flower found on one cultivar. There are many varieties of coffee shrubs each with a unique growing region, specific flower, noticeable fruit quality, etc.

This is a common variety of red-cherry coffee fruit.

This is a common variety of red-cherry coffee fruit.

Less common is a yellow-cherry coffee fruit.

Less common is a yellow-cherry coffee fruit.

A beautiful, well ripened near purple-cherry coffee fruit.

A beautiful, well ripened near purple-cherry coffee fruit.

After harvest coffee cherries undergo a long process of washing, sifting, sorting, grading... processing.

After harvest coffee cherries undergo a long process of washing, sifting, sorting, grading... processing.

Drying the coffee seeds is an important step in the processing stage. The method of washing+drying also has a great effect on the final complexion, roasting process and complexity of the coffee. Beans can be fully or partly washed. Sun or machine dried. Aged in the process or expedited for clarity and cleanness.

Drying the coffee seeds is an important step in the processing stage. The method of washing+drying also has a great effect on the final complexion, roasting process and complexity of the coffee. Beans can be fully or partly washed. Sun or machine dried. Aged in the process or expedited for clarity and cleanness.

This is the cross section of a coffee "cherry". Due to it's size and resemblance of our common concept of a "cherry" the word is suitable for common parlance, rather than saying "coffee fruit." Without getting too technical we can see the red skin, fruit/flesh, mucilage surrounding the seed and early developments of 2 seeds.

This is the cross section of a coffee "cherry". Due to it's size and resemblance of our common concept of a "cherry" the word is suitable for common parlance, rather than saying "coffee fruit." Without getting too technical we can see the red skin, fruit/flesh, mucilage surrounding the seed and early developments of 2 seeds.

Coffee "beans" or seeds still in in the mucilage. This is the soft skin which stands as a protective barrier between seed and fruit.

Coffee "beans" or seeds still in in the mucilage. This is the soft skin which stands as a protective barrier between seed and fruit.

After dried to an optimal moisture content, coffee is bagged and shipped around the world. Coffee bags are made of jute or burlap or hemp-like fibrous materials. These bags are unique by location for their style, markings, weight, etc. Most weigh 60-70kg (132-150lbs)!

After dried to an optimal moisture content, coffee is bagged and shipped around the world. Coffee bags are made of jute or burlap or hemp-like fibrous materials. These bags are unique by location for their style, markings, weight, etc. Most weigh 60-70kg (132-150lbs)!

A lovely glance at a greenish blue, fully washed Central American coffee bean. Another important industry practice is the bag the coffee in GrainPro bags at the source (prior to shipping) to protect the beans from moisture, temperature and air quality changes.

A lovely glance at a greenish blue, fully washed Central American coffee bean. Another important industry practice is the bag the coffee in GrainPro bags at the source (prior to shipping) to protect the beans from moisture, temperature and air quality changes.

Here we can see (although will not go into detail about) the various stages from a raw greenish blue bean to a dark burnt roast. As heat, air, time and circulation are all applied with art and science the natural enzymes present inside of the coffee-fruit-seed come out in their pronounced goodness. This is what people come to love in certain origins, or blends or roasters. Some people like the oily smoke of a #14-15 roast while others prefer to stop at step #7-8 when the sugars have just started to caramelize with a sweet-sour punch.

Here we can see (although will not go into detail about) the various stages from a raw greenish blue bean to a dark burnt roast. As heat, air, time and circulation are all applied with art and science the natural enzymes present inside of the coffee-fruit-seed come out in their pronounced goodness. This is what people come to love in certain origins, or blends or roasters. Some people like the oily smoke of a #14-15 roast while others prefer to stop at step #7-8 when the sugars have just started to caramelize with a sweet-sour punch.

Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to comment or share. This information is not meant to define the industry or standards about coffee. We just want to shed a little light on the uncommon truth that coffee is a fruit. Enjoy amazing coffee!