For most of us, we don’t need a specific month to appreciate the brew that gets us up and going in the morning. The numbers speak for themselves with Australians on average enjoying up of 3kgs of coffee per person, per year! We value the kick start quite a lot, but I’m not sure we fully realise the processes that allows us to enjoy a good cup of coffee. I Ate My Way Through teamed up with Jamaica Blue to have a look around their coffee roasting plant, The Bean Alliance, in Melbourne to get a better understanding of where our caffeine hit comes from.
World Barista and Latte Art judge, Jeremy Regan, showed us around the facility and explained to us the principles behind the Jamaica Blue crop-to-cup ideology which helps them perfect their brew while also working with farmers and processors alike. Regan, Jamaica Blue’s Head of Coffee, works with growers and farmers from six different coffee regions around the world to ensure that he’s working with the best beans possible. Working with the farmers to get a better understanding of the layout of the land and implementing better technology and treatments for the crops allows for a better yield year after year.
Coffee trees are definitely an investment crop. Planted as seedlings, they won’t initially fruit for three or four years and only once or twice a year will they produce coffee cherries. Each fruiting will yield one kilogram of processed coffee ground. Which, given how much your local barista would go through a day, is quite a small amount when you think about it.
Before the beans even arrive in Australia for processing they are tested through a process called cupping. Cupping sees producers and coffee gurus sampling the coffee through a variety of ways like smell and taste to quality check each batch and to reach a global standard. Once the best quality beans have been selected, they’re transported to Melbourne for processing.
The beans arrive in either 60kg bags or barrels and are put through a three stage process before they leave the roastery. The first stage is to eliminate the foreign materials like twigs and stones to isolate the green beans. The next stage sees the beans being cleaned and roasted, then cooled and stored in a silo for 24 to 48 hours to remove gas. It is in this stage of degassing where those magical coffee aromas start to escape the beans and oxygen is removed to slow down deterioration.
Once packed, the bags are distributed to the warehouse to be sent to Jamaica Blue cafes. During the entire process the beans have been through up to 120 different pairs of hands before they’re ground and turned into your espresso. An absolutely incredible process for a cup of coffee.
Coffee is so ingrained in Australian culture that it would be strange to think of a day without coffee being involved at all. For Aussies, coffee is a way to have some “me-time” in the midst of a busy day and helps us refocus. It’s synonymous for catching up with friends or family at your local cafe. So, let’s take a moment to give thanks to the drink that makes Australia go ’round.