The Coffee “bean” (referred to as ‘beans’ because of their resemblance to true beans) is actually a seed of the coffee plant and it takes about 2000 cherries to make 1 pound of coffee. The “bean” is the pit inside the red or purple fruit of the cherry. It usually contains two seeds (one seed only are called peaberries) and it takes nearly a year for it to mature after the flowering of the fragrant, white blossoms of the plant.
Coffee cherries are ripe when they have reached a bright red color (see photo) and must be harvested regularly or they will become over-ripe within 10 to 14 days. However, the cherries all ripen at different times, therefore in many, but not all cases, the coffee is carefully hand picked. Once picked they will be either dry- or wet processed( more on this in a future blog post)
It is important to understand that when and how the cherries are picked has a major influence on the final quality of coffee produced. Coffee cherrie processing is a series of steps aimed at achieving a coffee of high quality and if any part in the process is broken then that loss in quality can never be regained.