A coffee Bean is a seed of the Coffee plant and the source of coffee. It is the hole inside the red or purple fruit that is often referred to as a cherry. Like common cherries, the coffee fruit is also one of the so-called stone fruits. Although coffee beans are not technically beans, they are known as beans because of their resemblance to real beans. Fruits, coffee cherries or coffee berries, generally contain two pits with flat sides together. A small percent of cherries contains a single seed, instead of the two. This is called a "peaberry". Cranberries are produced only 10-15% of the time, and it is a common belief (although scientifically unproven) that they taste more than regular coffee beans. Like Brazil nuts (a seed) and white rice, coffee beans consist mainly of endosperm.
The two varieties of coffee plant of greatest economic importance are Arabica and Robusta; ~ 60% of the coffee produced worldwide is Arabica and ~ 40% is Robusta.  Arabica beans contain 0.8 to 1.4% caffeine and Robusta beans contain 1.7 to 4% caffeine. Since coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, coffee beans are an important cash crop and an important export product, accounting for more than 50% of the foreign exchange earnings of some developing countries.
Where does your coffee come from? You can tell that coffee is a plant and recognize that the beans come from a bright red coffee cherry. But what is inside that cherry and what does it mean for your cup?
The different parts of the coffee cherry have an impact on the processing method and the final profile of your coffee. Let's take a look at the basic anatomy of the coffee cherry to better understand our daily preparation.
Understanding the coffee plant
The beans that we roast, grind, and prepare to make coffee are the seeds of a fruit. The coffee plant produces coffee cherries, and the beans are the seeds that are inside.
Coffee trees can naturally grow over 30 ft / 9 m. But growers prune and cut plants to conserve plant energy and help harvest. Smaller trees have better performance and quality in a limited space.
Each tree is covered in green, waxy leaves that grow in pairs, and coffee cherries grow along its branches. Depending on the variety, it takes three to four years for a coffee plant to produce fruit. The average coffee tree produces 10 pounds of coffee cherries per year, which results in about 2 pounds of green beans.
But there are different varieties of coffee and their beans have many different characteristics. Size, taste, and resistance to disease vary, among other factors.
The layers of a coffee cherry
The skin of a coffee cherry is called the exocarp. It is green until ripe to a bright red, yellow, orange, or even pink, depending on the variety. Green coffee cherries should not be confused with green coffee beans, which are the unroasted seeds inside the ripe coffee cherry.
Beneath the cherry skin is a thin layer called the mesocarp, more commonly known as the pulp. Mucilage is the inner layer of the pulp. There is also a layer of pectin under the mucilage. These layers are full of sugars, which are important during the fermentation process.
Then we come to the coffee seeds, which are technically called endosperm but better known as beans. There are usually two beans in a coffee cherry, each of which is covered by a thin epidermis known as silver skin and a paper-like husk that we call parchment (technically the endocarp).
Parchment is usually removed in dehulling, which is the first step in the dry milling process. Machines or millstones are used to remove fruit debris and dried parchment from the beans. But sometimes green beans are sold with this layer intact in them as parchment coffee.
Silver skin is a group of sclerenchyma cells that are strongly attached to beans. These cells are formed to support and protect the seed. They come off during roasting when they are known as straw.
Sometimes there is a single seed inside a coffee cherry, and it is rounder and larger than usual. This happens in about 5% of coffee cherries and the beans are known as peas.
Peas can be an anatomical variation of the plant or they can form when there is insufficient pollination, and an egg is not fertilized. Sometimes the seed just doesn't grow, either due to genetic causes or environmental conditions. Peas are generally found in the parts of the coffee plant that are exposed to severe weather conditions.
There is some debate as to whether peas taste sweeter and more desirable and are sometimes sold at a premium. Regardless of whether you think they taste different; their rounded shape allows them to roll better in the roasting drum. Therefore, it is best to keep them separate from other beans to avoid inconsistent roasting.
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