Coffee Bean Cherry (All About The Coffee Fruit)

Coffee cherries on hand

Many people may connect to the phrase “coffee is a doorway to heaven,” especially with their stressful days or sweet-scented morning coffee. Perhaps, you may have thought about the life cycle or processing of your favorite coffee.

To begin, a visual of fresh, dark coffee beans, which we are all familiar with, may appear before your eyes.

However, coffee beans are not the source of coffee as we have always known.

It’s derived from coffee cherries. You’ll be astonished to learn many things about coffee cherries, the tree they originate from, and how they’re processed that you never knew before.

Read on for all the details…

What does coffee bean cherry refer to?

Coffee bean cherry refers to the coffee fruit from which the coffee beans come. The plant Coffea grows one kind of seed-bearing fruit. They are called Coffee cherry or the coffee bean cherry.

As it is called cherry, you may have confusion if they are the same as the seed from the fruit of the cherry tree. But there is no similarity between them; instead, coffee cherries are very different from them in every aspect.

Coffee cherry is called cherry because of its shape, size and, and color. When it ripes, it takes orange cultivar, red, yellow, and even purple color.

Inside coffee, cherries contain bean, or seed, which can be processed, dried, and roasted. It has skin, pulp, mucilage than a parchment layer around the seed, and then the coffee bean. These attributes make coffee bean cherries unique.

CaffeineLess in the cherry than the beans
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)Unlike a lot of other food supplements, coffee cherry has an abundant amount of riboflavin.
AntioxidantsGives protection against aging by obstructing free radicals, helps prevent cancer.
Chlorogenic acidFound in a large amount in the coffee cherry, covers your necessity of weight loss, cardiovascular, insulin regulation, decreased blood pressure, and cardiovascular protection.
Quinic acidResponsible for the bitterness in the fruit as well as cherry.
Diterpenes (cafestol and kahweol)Cafestol and kahweol are the fatty esters and the natural diterpenes that are extracted from coffee beans

How does coffee bean cherry taste?

Coffee bean cherry tastes “vegetal,” which is sort of like grass or any other green plant. They are slightly bitter and do contain caffeine; however, they have a sweet aroma. 

If you try a coffee cherry straight from the tree, you will discover it has a pretty nice punch but not a very sweet taste. It is more floral/tropical tasting than anything you would call a “cherry” – it will undoubtedly remind you more of passion fruit or guava.

Sometimes it also has a tobacco flavor. However, some producers say that some of the taste notes of the cherries can predict the aroma of roasted coffee.

You can eat coffee cherries straight from the tree, but not all fruits are ideal for smoothies and fruit salads, so you can not expect it as the other fruits you eat. When you bite a coffee cherry, you’ll realize that the skin is very rough; it is mostly skin and seeds.

After digging into the fruit pulp, the pulp sticks to the seeds, and it is almost like a fruity stone with some slimy parts that won’t come off. However, the fruit flesh is not a problem you should be worried about.

You can eat it if you want to; it is edible. Some animals also eat it.

Heart made of coffee beans
Heart of Coffee Beans

What are the health benefits of these cherries? 

As part of a varied diet, coffee bean cherries are indeed good for you. 

If you are willing to add coffee cherries to your diet, they are not the wrong choice. They have a lot of health benefits and nutritious value. Some of the health benefits of coffee cherries you should know about: 

  1. They have very little fat or sodium, are relatively low in calories, which is very healthy for your health and can aid your weight loss journey.

2. Coffee cherries will contribute fibre to your diet, which will help you with your good digestion.

3. They are decent sources of vitamins A and C.

4. The ripe coffee cherries, especially the very dark red ones, are a good source of antioxidants. These antioxidants will help to reduce inflammation and reduce the chances of cancer.

5. They don’t have much protein, so they are just part of a healthy diet.

6. They contain a lot of minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and folic acid.

Do coffee bean cherries have any impact on the flavor?

No, coffee bean cherries do not impact the flavor, but some coffee specialists claim otherwise.

If you’re asking if the coffee cherries impact the roasted coffee aromas or not, the answer is no. However, various coffee kinds, as well as cherry varietals, have varied tastes and unique fragrances.

There is no denying that coffees are cultivated in diverse climates and regions and with various production techniques, so there might be a chance that some coffee cherries can affect the flavor.

There is less than 20% of the weight of mature coffee cherries in dried green coffee beans. Everything else consists of a thin layer of skin on top of a coffee bean.

According to specific producers, coffee cherry flavor notes are sometimes believed to anticipate the scent of roasted coffee. It’s a no-brainer that coffee with sweeter and fruitier cherries would have a sweeter taste.

There are coffee manufacturers that can determine the coffee’s variety by smelling it. Possibly the same is valid for cherry-smelling as it is for coffee cupping.

To begin with, they all will smell alike, but as time passes and your scent palate becomes more used to them, despite not having a sophisticated palate, you can discern that the smell of coffee cherry varies based on type.

Even the coffee flower’s aroma differs significantly from one kind to another. So it can be possible to affect the coffee’s flavor by the coffee cherries, but there is no scientific proof.

Harvesting of Coffee Cherries
Harvesting of Coffee Beans

The Harvesting Of The Cherries   

There are two methods of harvesting coffee cherries. The harvesting process is:

  1. Ripe coffee cherry is the perfect cherry to harvest. Usually, the cherry is handpicked in many countries. But due to the hard labouring fact, the process has been mechanized. 
  2. If it’s a strip-picked item, using a machine or by hand, all of the cherries are removed off the branch simultaneously.
  3. However, if it is chosen selectively, only the ripe cherries are plucked, and each one is picked by hand.
  4. The cherry pickers rotate among the trees every eight to ten days, selecting just the ripest cherries.

A skilled picker may generate 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans per day by picking 100-200 pounds of coffee cherries every day.

Processing of Coffee Beans
Coffee Beans Processing

From Harvesting The Beans To A Cup of Coffee

There are usually two methods of harvesting coffee beans: washed process and the unwashed process. The unwashed is known as the natural and laborious process.

It retains some of the flavors of the dried or fermenting coffee fruit. So the fruit is not harvested as we use it as a phrase, in the traditional sense. Washed process is loved by farmers and producers because it reduces the risk of defects and is a more stable way.

The process is:

Step 1: The fruit flesh is removed mechanically (de-pulping) from the coffee bean.

Step 2: After de-pulping, the beans are set for the fermentation process. In this process, beans are put into a water tank where the remaining pulps of the fruit flesh are removed.

Step 3: After the fermentation is ready, the coffee beans are washed to remove any leftover flesh and then it is ready to be dried.

Step 4: Milling the dried beans.

Step 5: The processed dried beans after milling is ready to be roasted and packed.

After that, all is left for you to brew the roasted beans and make a fresh cup of coffee. However, the washed process leads to bright and acidic flavors in the cup. Baristas and roasters appreciate this process because of its complexity and cleaner cup profiles.

Watch this video to learn the process of coffee production from cherries.

Cup of Coffee
Cup of Coffee

Final Thoughts  

Drinking coffee may lift your mood, and it may make you think about its life cycle. However, the processing of coffee is what makes your coffee so good and fragranced.

From planting a coffee tree to growing cherries, plucking cherries, and separating the coffee cherry’s fruit flesh and skin from the coffee beans are important aspects of farming coffee.

Roasters and Baristas are concentrating on coffee’s processing to describe the coffee. It’s because the way the beans are processed can affect the resulting cup. So, behind the scene, the coffee cherries and their processing also deserve credit for tasting good.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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