From Cherry to Seed

In the last blog post, we discussed what green coffee was, but we never discussed how we got from the coffee cherry to the actual bean. Our goal here is to give a general brief overview of the anatomy of the coffee cherry, so the average coffee drinker can better understand how their delicious beverage came about. 

A coffee cherry has many layers, each one unique and different. Let’s start from the seed (or the bean) and work our way out to the skin. Each cherry normally has two seeds, unless it’s a peaberry, which means that it has just one seed inside. Peaberries are natural mutations that occur in a very small number of coffee cherries. The only reason why this mutation is relevant is that some coffee connoisseurs and farmers actually go after peaberries, believing that it has a unique taste. 

Each coffee bean, covered by a membrane called the silver skin, has a flat end and a round end. Normally, the flat ends will be facing each other as it sits inside the cherry. Right outside of the silver skin is another thin paper-like layer called the parchment. The parchment is removed when the coffee is processed, and the silver skin is removed when the coffee is roasted. 

The pulp is the next layer outside of the parchment and is quite sweet to the taste. Beyond this, things get kind of boring, unless you are really into the anatomy of a coffee cherry. We will just end it here by saying that everything beyond the pulp is the skin of the cherry. 

Here's a cross section for you!

Here's a cross section for you!

It is important to note that many of the terms we have mentioned are words used by coffee people and not by scientists. Scientists would use terms such as endosperm, endocarp, mesocarp, parenchyma, etc. We felt that those words were unnecessary for the scope of this article. There are also some layers of the cherry that we missed. However, they are too scientific and don’t serve much of a purpose here. To be quite honest, we don’t even know the purpose of these other layers ourselves!

And that's how we get from the cherry to the bean! It’s bizarre to think that coffee was once alive and breathing. At least now you have a clearer picture of that journey from the coffee tree to your cup.