Coffee fruit is called a cherry. Each cherry is small and round like a grape and very slow growing, taking anywhere from 6 to 10 months to ripen fully. Inside, the fruit is edible and fleshy, but with very little pulp and two seeds. These seeds are what consumers call ‘beans’, which are removed from the fruit then prepared for export after a long series of processing and drying. From here the green coffee can be roasted, ground and brewed.
The fruit has the following layers:
• Exocarp: the outer skin (pulp)
• Mesocarp: also known as the mucilage – a sticky, wet layer that carries much of the coffee’s sweetness
• Endocarp: also known as the ‘parchment’, this is the papery layer that is milled off just before export
• The silverskin: a membrane that covers and protects the two seeds within the fruit
Cherries at various stages of ripeness in Colombia