Journey of a Coffee Bean (from Vietnam to Brooklyn)
Have you ever wondered how our nationally acclaimed coffee beans make it into your cup?
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.
Founder, Sahra Nguyen, with one of our producing partners/farmers, Chu Phuoc, in Da Lat, Vietnam.
These are beautiful white coffee flowers -- before the cherries arrive!
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).
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 they 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.
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!)
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.
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.
First, the cherries are sorted by weight and density. Lighter cherries get separated and tossed into a lower grade category.
The quality cherries move on and get the outer layer or skin removed through a machine.
We begin to see the seed (or the bean), covered in a mucilage -- a sticky, sugary layer that is slimey to the touch.
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.
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.
Finally! We have our green bean. The beans are now ready to be roasted!
After all of these steps, the green beans are bagged up and shipped over to New York by sea.
We import green beans so that we can roast fresh every week in Brooklyn. We roast everything in-house and package them for shipments.
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.
Ready to try the Vietnamese coffee experience at home?
Read more about how to brew coffee here.
(All photos are owned by and credited to Nguyen Coffee Supply)