Journey of a Coffee Bean (from Vietnam to Brooklyn)

Written by Alex Nguyen

vietnamese coffee farm

Have you ever wondered how our nationally acclaimed coffee beans make it into your cup?

vietnamese coffee nguyen coffee supply roasted brooklyn

The journey from bean to brew involves hours of labor, plenty of resources, and a number of steps. Every coffee bean you use starts its journey on a tree on a farm half way around the world. At our farm in Da Lat, Vietnam, the trees are grown organically and with TLC.

sahra nguyen vietnamese coffee farm da lat vietnam

Founder, Sahra Nguyen, with one of our producing partners/farmers, Chu Phuoc, in Da Lat, Vietnam. 

vietnamese coffee farm

BThese are beautiful white coffee flowers -- before the cherries arrive!

vietnamese coffee farm

Vietnamese coffee single origin cherries

Vietnamese coffee single origin

Coffee beans grow in clusters. Prior to roasting, they’re referred to as cherries (technically, they are fruits) and appear green and red (when ripe) in color. 

Robusta coffee cherries ripen at the same time (above, top) and arabica coffee cherries ripen at different times (above, bottom).

Vietnamese coffee farmer producer single origin

Once the cherries have matured enough for harvesting, they must be picked and processed.

There is a big difference between how arabica beans and robusta beans are harvested. Robusta cherries on the same branch ripen at the same time, which means it can be harvested by pulling the whole branch off at once, or using a tree-shaking machine. Arabica cherries ripen at different times, which means they must be hand-picked. This process is more labor intensive than harvesting robusta beans. 

Vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen

vietnamese coffee farm single origin sahra nguyen coffee supply

On the farm, there's a "resting shack" where farmers can take a break, lie down, cook some food, boil hot water, and of course -- make some coffee! (Above, Founder Sahra Nguyen with her mom and producing partners -- it's a family affair!)

vietnamese coffee farm single origin sahra nguyen coffee supply

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

vietnamese coffee farm single origin sahra nguyen coffee supply

This is what the resting shack looks like from the outside. 

After harvesting, the beans go through a variety of processes, including full wash, semi wash, honey wash, and natural

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

The arabica beans we use are a full-wash process and the robusta beans we use are a natural process. 

We’ll show you a full-wash process with our arabica cherries in Da Lat, Vietnam.

Vietnamese coffee single origin 

First, the cherries are sorted by weight and density. Lighter cherries get separated and tossed into a lower grade category.

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

 

Vietnamese coffee single origin processVietnamese coffee single origin

 

Vietnamese coffee single origin

The quality cherries move on and get the outer layer or skin removed through a machine. 

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

 

Vietnamese coffee single origin

 

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

We begin to see the seed (or the bean), covered in a mucilage -- a sticky, sugary layer that is slimey to the touch. 

Vietnamese coffee single origin

Vietnamese coffee single origin

The beans soak in a pit of water, where producers will stand inside the pit and rake the beans back and forth. This is to remove the mucilage layer. After raking, the beans soak in the water for 8 hours until all the mucilage is off. It’s important that the mucilage is removed to prevent mold.

vietnamese coffee farm single origin sahra nguyen coffee supply

Next, the beans are placed in a dryer for 8 hours. We’re almost done!

The dried beans have a layer around them called the parchment layer. The beans then go through a machine to remove the parchment layer. 

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

vietnamese coffee farm single origin nguyen coffee supply

Finally! We have our green bean. The beans are now ready to be roasted!

vietnamese coffee single origin nguyen coffee supply

After all of these steps, the green beans are bagged up and shipped over to New York by sea. 

vietnamese coffee bean sahra nguyen coffee supply locally roasted brooklyn

vietnamese coffee bean nguyen coffee supply locally roasted brooklyn

We import green beans so that we can roast fresh every week in Brooklyn. We roast everything in-house and package them for shipments.

vietnamese coffee bean nguyen coffee supply locally roasted brooklyn

Vietnamese coffee single origin roasted in brooklyn

All in all, the journey from bean to brew takes at least 9 months – a lengthy yet worthwhile expanse of time for the perfect cup of joe.

You can try our organic, single-origin coffee beans for yourself knowing that they're a labor of love and time.

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Read more about how to brew coffee here

(All photos are owned by and credited to Nguyen Coffee Supply)