How is Coffee Made: The Journey from Bean to Cup

Coffee has become a staple of the human experience, now more so than ever with almost 1.4 million cups being drank every minute. While many of us enjoy the numerous benefits this bean offers, the complex process that takes place from seed to sipping often gets overlooked. This article aims to explain the process simply step by step so everyone can understand the journey from bean to cup.


I - The History Of Coffee

II - How Does Coffee Grow?

III - The Coffee Roasting Process

IV - Grinding and Brewing

V - What is Speciality Coffee?

VI - Serving and Enjoying Coffee

The History of Coffee

Coffee is over 1200 years old, and a lot has happened since it’s discovery in Ethiopia. Here is a quick summary of those events:


The first known coffee house was opened in Istanbul. It was founded by two brothers from Damascus and established in Tahtakale.

first ever coffee house


The East India Trading Company steals coffee and tries growing it in their home city of Amsterdam. The lack of high mountains and tropical weather meant that the coffee would not fruit and so attempts to control the coffee trade where thwarted.

East India Trading Company ships sailing


The Dutch gift Louis XIV a coffee plant, which the French cultivate on a small island known by the French as the island of Bourbon. Conisidently, this is where the eponymous chocolate biscuit alos get its name.

Reunion Island


Gabriel De Clieu brings a coffee plant to the carribean islands. He is credited to bringing coffee to America.

Coffee plant being transported by ship


LT. Colonel Francisco De Melo Palheta successfully brings coffee to Brazil.

Lt. Colonel Francisco De Melo Palheta


There is a massive increase of coffee production around middle America due to slave labour. With the abolition of slavery at the end of the 19th century, coffee production slows dramatically in the west.

Coffee Plant


Stokes Tea & Coffee was established. Robert William Stokes. Tea and coffee were just starting to become a household commodity. Robert developed the award-winning Gold Medal Tea and started roasting coffee to supply the local area.

RW Stokes (Founder of Stokes Tea & Coffee)

Want to learn more about the History Of Coffee? Take a look at our blog which takes you through the full journey in more detail.

How Does Coffee Grow?

There are 2 types of coffee plants we use for consumption: Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica plants prefer higher altitudes, such as at least 1000 masl to grow as they like a cooler climate. This allows them to develop their fruit slowly. The result is denser arabica beans packed with more complexity.
Robusta plants are a much hardier species than Arabica and can grow at lower altitudes from 600 masl where the temperatures are higher. Due to these conditions the plant spends less time developing the, we find much fewer complex flavours in Robusta beans.

Coffee producing countries tend to be around the equator as it provides the ideal climate and conditions for coffee cultivation. This area is known as the coffee bean belt, it includes continents such as South America & Africa.
When it comes time to harvest the fruit, there are three main methods: Dry/ Natural process Wet/ Washed process and Honey process.

Altitudes of coffee

We've covered this in more detail on our blog.

The Coffee Roasting Process

Coffee beans wont taste very nice without roasting them, this is where they are transformed from a simple seed into something delicious that can be brewed. It's an important part of coffee production and it's something we do here at Stokes.
Coffee is commonly roasted in a drum roaster which works a little like a tumble dryer. There is a heat source that heats up the air around the drum. The drum rotates, turning the coffee throughout the roast ensuring the beans get an even distribution of heat and that they do not just sit against the hot drum walls, is a combination of this movement and convection that ensures an even roast.

Find out more about the roasting process in our blog.

The journey illustrated

Grinding & Brewing

Correctly prepping a cup of coffee is vital, the flavours from roasting the beans and growing them at specific altitudes can all be lost without proper grinding and brewing technique. There are numerous ways to grind coffee from coarse through to fine, and all have their place. Darker roasts, such as many Italian ones, have strong smoky, sometimes burnt flavours. Grinding these coarsely will still allow for plenty of flavour to be extracted from the beans because of its intensity. Other, lighter roasts are more delicate. Our Guatemalan beans for example are lightly roasted, with flavours of pears and honey. These are very delicate, subtle flavours which need a finer grind to come through.


Different beans need different temperatures just like teas do; too hot and the coffee will burn, too cold and the flavours won’t be extracted properly, and since most cups of coffee are 1-2% coffee that makes almost 99% of them water. So, getting it right is vital.


These different grinds are used for different coffee brewing methods which all aid in extracting the best flavour from each roast. Brewing methods have changed immeasurably over the years and while some have been surpassed others have endured.


To know which method is right for you, simply ask yourself what are you looking for? Not every method is as complicated as a commercial espresso machine; covered in buttons and levers with steam coming out the side. Many home-brewing systems are simple like the French-press, which has been a staple method of coffee-brewing for almost two-hundred years. For those seeking a more intricate or versatile brewing system, the modern evolution of the French-press was created in 2005, It's called the Aeropress. It allows you to make espresso, lattes, and americanos in one. 

What is Specialty Coffee?

With all things that are created, there are simple and special versions. Coffee is no exception; in fact, it could even be the benchmark. Specialty coffee is defined as any coffee that scores above 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCAA) or by a licensed Q Grader (CQI).

Specialty coffees are coffee at their peak and are different to others because they have been grown at the perfect altitude, at the correct time of year, in the best soil, and then picked at just the right time. In short, they are the best and most delicious coffees in the world. Here at Stokes, we are proud to serve and sell not just one, but eight different specialty coffees from all around the world, including Jamaican Blue Mountain which is known as ‘the champagne of coffees'.

Serving and Enjoying Coffee

Coffee is often compared to wine which has 200 tasting notes and since coffee has more than triple that, it is only right that it be served and paired with at least the same respect as wine. Just because its flavours are complex, doesn’t mean the way it’s served needs to be though, they key is simple; serve in a way that celebrates the taste of coffee and all the work that has come before the humble cup in front of you. How you serve your espresso is all down to what you like; if you want something rich and milky, a latte is perfect. If you want something more intense flavour-wise, a black americano may be for you. Perhaps you want to taste all the hard work in its most pure and distilled form; the classic espresso never fails to hit the mark. The limits for how you serve coffee are only restricted by your curiosity. We think it's only right that coffee is enjoyed the same way that wine is, that's why we host our own Coffee Tasting Experiences

Alternatively, as wine is paired with cheese, coffee is just as acquainted with foods both sweet and savoury. There’s a reason the French start the day with a coffee and a croissant and why Italians close out their meal with coffee after a Neapolitan pizza; coffee and food are a match made in heaven. 


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