Coffee beans are actually coffee seeds from a coffee cherry. This makes them a member of the stone fruit family. The pit inside the coffee cherry of the coffee plant is one of the world’s most consumed beverages, and a major cash crop and export product, with the U.S. being the leading consumer. After learning this, I slapped myself on the forehead, said “duh,” and I have decided to purchase land in South America so I can grow ACRES of coffee plants. Maybe then we’ll be able to afford to send our son to college in 18 years.
When the coffee cherries are ripe, they are often handpicked using a selective picking method. That is, only the ripe fruit is removed. On average, one coffee tree produces one pound of green beans. In most cases, the tree must be harvested multiple times because the cherries ripen at different moments, creating an extremely labor intensive environment, and a fine game of hide-n-seek. The cherries are then processed either the “wet” method, or the “dry” method, and you end up with green coffee beans that are processed and ready for roasting. That one pound of harvested green beans loses weight when roasted. It’s as if the bean is being put through a Bikram yoga session at Napa Hot Yoga (https://napahotyoga.com). Once in the roaster/Bikram studio, the bean loses water weight, and essentially one pound of roasted coffee beans yields one 12 ounce bag of roasted coffee.
16oz of green coffee beans + coffee roaster-->12oz bag of roasted coffee
I know it’s confusing, but trust us. If you need proof, please weigh yourself, attend a Bikram Yoga session, and re-weigh yourself afterwards. You’ll go in green, and come out…nope, gonna stop there.
NVCRC currently sources beans from the following countries: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Brazil (decaf beans), Colombia, and Mexico. Actually, the coffee beans are exported from these countries to Royal Coffee, a Coffee Bean Importer (https://royalcoffee.com), and then Ben goes and picks up the green beans from the Royal warehouse in Oakland to bring back and roast at the Saint Helena location. Although I know it’s not true, in my mind, Royal Coffee is a cover for a Bean Counter (ha ha), a Russian man who resides on a boat in the harbor, secretly selling green coffee beans. In order to purchase the beans, Ben has to offer free legal advice, 44 packs of spearmint gum, and two bottles of vodka. Before Charlie disappeared, he used to go and pick up the green coffee beans. The rumor is that one day he showed up with only 43 packs of gum, and since then, Charlie has been MIA.
Back to the countries we source our green beans from. I am truly interested in the different methods of each country: whether the plans are Arabica or Robusta (we only purchase Arabica beans), if they use the “wet” or “dry” method, if Charlie is currently living on one of those coffee farms and that’s why he’s not here, etc., so I decided to schedule a trip to the different countries listed above.
I opened up Google Maps on my iPhone, and knowing that Mexico would be the first stop, I plugged in the destination. Hmmm…it’ll take me 1 day, 6 hours to drive. Thanks Google Maps!
Now, Mexico to Guatemala…Google Maps says it’s a 1-day drive. Sweet!
Guatemala to Colombia is the next leg of the trip. Google Maps says…nothing. What the hell?!?! I’m looking at the map, and it totally looks like I could even run the leg of this trip, yet Google Maps can’t fathom how I am to get there? Fine! A flight from Guatemala to Bogota, Colombia is…3 hours, 15 minutes. Piece of cake. Done.
Alrighty, now to get from Bogota to São Paulo, Brazil…Google Maps failed me again, so it looks like I’ll be flying…37 hours?!?! Screw it! We’re only sourcing decaf coffee beans from Brazil, so we’ll forgo that trip.
Bogota to Ethiopia…I know I have to fly. Holy shit…62 hours, 30 minutes. I’m starting to think this trip is going to take too long. We might not ever find Charlie. Then, Ethiopia to Indonesia…44 hours, 30 minutes; then Indonesia to Papua New Guinea…36 hours, 30 minutes; and then I need to get from Papua New Guinea all the way back to SFO…69 hours.
Sorry Charlie. I’m just going to trust that you’re in a good place, and that we might never see you again, especially if you’re stuck in Papua New Guinea.
Google Maps—you suck. To you, there are no countries besides North America. I highly recommend expanding your horizons.
Customers of NVCRC, I am terribly sorry I am unable to tell you firsthand what the coffee farms are like that we source our green beans from. We will just need to trust that Ben and Doug have a good relationship with the Russian Bean Counter at Royal Coffee. Given how tasty the coffee is after it’s been roasted and brewed, I think we have some of the best beans. You might even say, the greenest beans, given the major cash crop that it is!