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The life of a coffee bean

There’s a lot more to making a good cup of joe than just boiling water. It begins with a ripe red coffee cherry hand picked from the plant that’s then transformed into a dried green bean.

It’s a time- and labor-intensive process. First harvested cherries, each containing two beans, are put through a depulper, which removes their thin skins. Then they’re soaked in water for a day or two, during which fermentation occurs. Next, the cherries are spread on drying racks for 10 days to three weeks, depending on climate conditions. Then comes a three-month “rest period” in storage, resulting in the dried green beans. After that, a thin layer of parchment is ground off the green bean with the dehuller. Finally, the processed bean is ready for roasting.

“Coffee has fallen through the cracks as an area of research. We don’t know a lot about its genetics, for instance,” says J. Bruce German, director of UC’s Foods for Health Institute. 

But that’s beginning to change. The UC Davis Coffee Center brings academics from a range of disciplines including food science, plant genetics and coffee chemistry to share research on coffee, the second most widely traded commodity crop in the world. 

And it’s worth learning more about the plant. Coffee is the second most widely traded commodity crop in the world. 

Read more about California beans: the next wave in coffee