Processing Coffee is Easy and So Worth It – Step by Step Guide with Photos
When I say easy, then I really mean it! After reading various articles outlining the complete procedure, I wasn’t even sure if I should harvest the berries at all when our young coffee bushes provided us with the gift. It seemed like a huge load of work that takes lots of time and effort but I decided to give it a go, and I am so glad I did!
There are a few steps you have to go through until you can enjoy your first cup of homegrown coffee, but most of the tasks can be done “in between” other jobs. This is exactly how I have done it, in between my business work, gardening, cooking, preserving veggies from the garden, and hundreds of other jobs I usually do…and what can I say… it was so worth it! The coffee tastes super delicious and I will definitely do it again! Organic, naturally homegrown coffee is even the best!
I decided to document the entire process, for myself and for anyone else who is interested in processing the homegrown coffee beans. Feel free to comment under the article if you would like to add or ask something.
- Harvest: Wait with the harvest until the colour of the beans is red to deep red, and kind of soft to the touch. Instead of picking every single bean by hand, I simply stripped the berries by hand and filled the bowl very quickly using this method.
- Cleaning: Submerge the berries for about one hour, then give them a good wash by rolling the berries in water between my hands and then draining them.
- Pulping: Within 24 hours following harvesting, remove the peel from the seeds. You may accomplish this by squeezing each berry by hand as I did. This is the part of the process that takes most of your time of the entire process. Next time, I will try to tamp the berries with a potatoe masher until all seeds have been driven out of the skin. Wondering if that will be quicker.
- Dehydrating berries: Coffee berries have lots of health benefits and can used in many different ways: as tea, to spice dishes, to make beauty products, coffee syrup or liqueur, and more. I dehydrate them in my dehydrator but you can also use the oven on the lowest heat at about 50°C. Store in an air-tight container
- Fermenting beans: The beans are very slippery right after removing the peel, and that is normal. Cover the beans with water and leave for at least 18 hours. The natural enzymes help to remove the slippery mucilage around the beans. The beans are ready if they feel clean and gritty rather than slick. According to some pages I went through before starting the process, the duration of the fermentation influences the taste, too. Some recommend to ferment the beans for up to three days. Change water daily if you decide to do so. I left my beans for about 24 hours and the coffee tastes delicious but I am tempted to ferment for 48 hours next time to see if there will be any difference in taste. Who doesn’t love experiments!? Wash the beans in clean water two to three times, or until the water runs clean. Floating beans should be discarded.
- Dehydrating beans: I dehydrated the beans in the dehydrator for seven days at 40°C while turning the dehydrator off for the night to use the solar power only. Check the temperature in your dehydrator when you go that way. I have found out that my dehydrator shows 5°C higher than the inside temperature so had to set it to 45°C to get 40°C inside. Sun-drying is possible but I didn’t want to risk it as the humidity is pretty high most days. Don’t go over 40°C as the beans have to be dehydrated slowly rather than cooked throughout. After a few days of dehydrating, remove the parchment by hand from several beans to test their dryness. The coffee bean parchment will dry to a pale straw hue and become brittle. This was the point when I finished the dehydration process. The bean should be bluish-greenish-grayish in appearance, firm, and brittle when cut in half. Continue drying if it’s still soft and chewy.
- Removing the parchment layer – hulling: I used my old food processor with somewhat dull blades to remove the papery hulls from the beans. I run it at the lowest speed with only two handfuls of beans at a time and turn it off every 10 seconds or so to check the beans. This process was quick and simple. When you are serious about processing your homegrown coffee, it might be worth buying a cheap food processor and making the blades blunt by filing them off (clean thoroughly before use).
- Separating beans from the papery hulls: This was a fun and easy job by using my hair dryer. The lighter parchment went off easily. Do it outside!
- Roasting: I roasted the beans on a baking tray, in one layer, in my oven at 230°C for 10 minutes by fanforced setting. Stirred the beans once during that time. The beans turned dark brown after that time. I left them in the turned-off oven for another 2 minutes or so. I found the roasting process pretty quick, maybe too quick, and even though the coffee doesn’t taste bitter or too strong, I will change the oven settings to 220°C and roast it for 12 minutes or so just to know the difference. Some people will say why change when it is good the way it is but as already mentioned, I love experimenting!
- The coffee tastes delicious! The work was definitely worth it and I will do it again. I love coffee! And is it anything better than organically homegrown coffee?
- Looking back at the entire process, separating the berries from the seeds/beans, was the “worst” as it has taken lots of time that I don’t have. I will definitely try potatoe masher next time in the hope that it will save me some time. I will keep you updated! All other tasks have been very easy to do and didn’t take long to complete. I loved to see the papery hulls flying away when using the hairdryer!
- The scent of the coffee intensified after keeping it in the jar for a couple of days. The aroma is non-identical to the store-bought coffee but in a good way. I am pleasantly surprised.
- Have you processed your homegrown coffee yet? Let me know how did you go in the comments below. Looking forward to reading about your experience.
- Our coffee trees are about three years old, and grown from seed, so it didn’t take long until the first harvest. Note, that I am selling the seeds if you want to grow your own. Please follow this link to buy some. We live in subtropics but I know people in Europe who grow coffee trees inside their homes and harvest regularly. The coffee tree is a small tree and responds well to trimming so will fit into any corner of your garden or home.
Here are some images of the entire process. All in all, I really enjoyed it, and I look forward to the next crop!