Behind The Milling Process
Behind The Milling Process
Here in Hawai’i there is a culture of slowing down and doing things right. This often means doing it by hand, even if things take longer. It’s about the joy of the process. At Kona Coffee & Tea, we have full control of every single step of the process. It takes dedicated time and effort to create our 100% Kona coffee, but we believe it’s worth it.
When creating coffee there are a handful of intricate steps along the way. One that often gets overlooked is the process of Milling coffee.
What is Milling?
Milling refers to any processing, grinding, or cutting of something. In coffee, milling is an essential processing step in coffee production that transforms the harvested coffee cherries into the coffee beans we all know and love. And because Kona Coffee & Tea needed full-control of the coffee process, we took the time and energy to build our very own Mill for processing our coffee. Was it hard? Yes. Did it take forever? Yes. Were our backs sore from pouring concrete? Correct.
But was it worth it? Yes it was.
Take a closer look at the process of milling coffee and its various stages.
Step One: We Harvest
The first step before milling coffee is to harvest the coffee cherries from the coffee trees. Coffee is actually made from the processed seeds of a fruit! Only the ripe, red fruits are selected for milling. The selected ‘cherries’ are then processed through two different methods: the dry method and the wet method.
Step Two: Wet Milling
The wet method, also known as the washed method, is a newer and more modern method of processing coffee and the one that we use for most of our 100% Kona coffees we offer. Washed coffees often yield a more consistent, cleaner, cup that is said to preserve the coffee’s flavor. In this method, the coffee cherries are soaked in water to remove the pulp and other impurities. We pay careful attention here to time, temperature, and density. The beans are then washed and sorted by weight and size.
Step Three: Hulling
Hulling is the process of removing the dried skin, pulp, and parchment layer that surrounds the coffee beans. This process can be done manually or mechanically. In manual hulling, the beans are pounded with a pestle and mortar to remove the outer layer.
In mechanical hulling, which we do, the beans are processed through machines that remove the outer layer. The by-product is the red skin, which you see in the photo. Some is composted into soil and some can be used for fertilizer.
Step Four: Sorting
Next, the coffee beans are sorted based on size, weight, and color. This is an essential step in ensuring that the final product is of high quality. In sorting, the beans move along a vibrating tray and fall into their designated size / density / shape categories. The sorted beans are then roasted to bring out their unique flavors. Kona and Hawai’i have unique names attributed to the coffee of different size, density, and shape. Long standing, traditional names still survive, like “Fancy,” “Extra Fancy,” and “Peaberry,” which is used in other countries as well, like Kenya.
Want to know more about coffee grades? Check out our blog Making The Grade.
Step Five: To The Roaster!
Finally, we are done milling the coffee. The hard, dry, “green” beans are then put into 100 lb. burlap sacks and hauled off to the roastery. There, they’re roasted by our Master Roaster, Davey McAllister, to bring out their unique flavors. Roasting is a delicate process that requires careful attention to temperature airflow, and time. Davey can chat all he wants while that roaster is turned off…but once Davey has that flame on, we leave him be.
If you want to learn more about roasting, check out Behind The Roasting Process.
Once the beans are roasted, they are ready to be ground and brewed into a delicious cup of coffee after a period of resting.
The process of milling coffee is an essential step in coffee production that transforms the harvested coffee cherries into the 100% Kona coffee we all know and love. Whether it's the traditional dry method or the modern wet method, the milling process requires careful attention to detail to ensure that the final product is of high quality. So the next time you enjoy a cup of 100% Kona coffee by Kona Coffee & Tea, take a moment to appreciate the journey that your coffee beans have taken to reach your cup.
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