Most coffee beans are used to make delicious drinks, but a few luckly ones from the healthiest are planted to grow the next generation of coffee shrubs. The germinated seeds are called "soldiers" because the round seeds bobbing in the breeze look like army helmets.
Germinated seeds are lovingly cared for and the strongest are transplanted into individual pots when they develop their first leaves. The baby plants are called "butterflys" as the first two leaves are rounded and open like a butterfly.
The seedlings are cared for during a year or two in a shaded nursery and given plenty of water to give them the best start in life.
When the plants are big enough they are planted on the mountainside under the shade of native trees. Shade grown coffee has the best flavor and the trees are good for the local wildlife.
The coffee shrubs grow slowly and must be carefully looked after for years until they produce their first fruit. Planting coffee is a big investment for the farmer, with a long wait before any possible return.
If all goes well, the coffee shrubs will produce their first fruits a few years after planting and, with careful care and pruning, will continue to produce coffee for many years.
Only perfectly ripened cherries are picked and any green cherries are left on the branch to be harvested a week or two later. This attention to detail means each cherry must be picked individually by hand.
Ah Cacao coffee is grown on mountain sides at high altitude as this produces the best flavor. The downside is that ripe cherries have to be carried by hand to the nearest collection point, which might be a kilometer or two away over rugged terrain.
The ripe cherries are gently crushed to extract the coffee seeds (beans) from the fruit. There are two beans in each cherry. The fresh coffee beans look like peanuts! Only the most perfect beans end up in bags of Ah Cacao coffee.
USING THE PULP
The fruit from the coffee cherries is a by-product that is currently used as mostly as fertilizer and animal feed. However new uses are being reseached for the fruit, such as coffee flour.
To develop their best flavor, coffee beans are fermented in tanks for 24 hours or more.
The fermented coffee beans are spread out in the sun to dry and rotated regulary to ensure an even tan ;).
Coffee roasting and brewing
REMOVING THE PARCHMENT
Each dried coffee beans is covered in a skin called "parchment" which must be removed before roasting, to revealing the green bean inside.
Ah, the dark art of coffee roasting... A lighter roast preserves more of the coffee's natural flavor but can taste like wet grass, whereas a darker roast can end up tasting like ash and coal. At Ah Cacao we strive for a perfect "medium" roast that brings out the best natural flavors in the coffee, retaining some fruitiness but with a satisfying body.
Each batch of roast coffee beans is tested for flavor and, if sufficiently delicious, are bagged up for you to make coffee at home.
THE PERFECT CUP OF COFFEE
There are many ways to enjoy your coffee beans, depending on your tastes and preferred level of convenience. Two of our favorite methods for home brewing are Aeropress and French press.
Of course, there's nothing like enjoying a cup of coffee with friends at Ah Cacao Chocolate Café!