How to turn coffee cherries into coffee beans: Step 4

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Continuing my series on the incredibly time consuming process of producing a cup of coffee from a pile of coffee cherries (part one, part two, part three)… this next step is the roast. In theory the easiest, and quickest, step in the procedure. In theory. Because nothing in this little game is as it seems.

I use a Behmor 4600 roaster for my beans – it’s a purpose built unit with a rotating basket and two heating elements. Normally it roasts 500gm of coffee in about 20 minutes.

First, I put my 410gms of coffee into the basket.

Then the basket in the roaster.

Then, I turned it on. All very straightforward. But nothing in this process has been as straightforward as it seems. Here’s a scrambled together video (shot on my phone) of the process. It tracks the time a little, it took much longer than expected, perhaps because I hadn’t allowed the beans to dry out quite enough, and perhaps because I kept opening the door of the roaster to shoot video.

This was the situation after the second roasting cycle…

I prefer the beans to be slightly darker, and more evenly roasted, so I put them on for another 15 minutes.

Now I’ve got to rest them for a couple of days before tasting the final product.

How to turn coffee cherries into coffee beans: Step 2

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To continue where we left off

I soaked the beans in water for about 48 hours – changing the water a few times, discarding about 30 floating (second rate or dead) beans.

Getting them dry presented a bit of a problem. I tried putting them outside on a couple of trays in the sun – but only the top dried.

They were still a little slimy, and the guide I read said they should be coarse. So I put them back in cold water and rinsed them a few more times before bundling them up in paper towel.

Like a coffee bean sausage.

This happened last night – so the sun wasn’t out. I improvised using a heat lamp we have for our turtles.

Which worked. I have dry coffee beans.

Dry coffee beans which weigh almost half what they weighed soaking wet…

I’m anticipating about 400gm of roasted coffee from 2kg of fruit and about 5 hours of work. Ouch.

How to turn coffee cherries into coffee beans: Step 1

My good friend Dave sent me two kilos of coffee cherries in the mail. Giving me the perfect opportunity to try my hand at processing coffee from fruit to cup. Today was pulping day. The cherries had started to ferment. I read this article, and decided to go with the wet processing option – or at least a low-tech version. Here, for your vicarious coffee preparing pleasure, is the process… in pictures (from my phone).


I started with two kilos of coffee fruit in a plastic bag. I put these in a tub and started squeezing the berries out one by one. This was a slow process.

Embracing the “wet process” method I filled the tub with water and started pressing the beans together and mashing them, imagining my hands were the feet of the hired help at a French vineyard.

It still took a long time. But, after mashing and bashing my way through the bucket I ended up with:

I weighed them. After soaking in water for a while (and they were noticeably waterlogged) they weighed 972 grams. They’ll lose a fair bit before roasting, and a further 20 percent during roasting. It’s not a hugely efficient process.

And now they’re soaking. For 12-48 hours.