From the bean to the packaging: a visit to a coffee factory

Have you ever stopped and thought about what lies behind the cup of coffee we drink every day? Have you ever wondered how it is possible that this drink is an excellence of Made in Italy while you do not produce it, unlike wine? The best thing to answer all these questions is to get the chance to visit a coffee shop. We did it by going and seeing the work of the Coind company in Bologna thanks to Coffee Promotion Consortiumwhich for more than 30 years has promoted the coffee culture and the whole sector, and now we tell all the steps, from cereals to packagingand where we find the added value that our professionals provide because, as emphasized by Luca Cioffi, CEO of Coind, in Italy “we do not limit ourselves to just the conversion of an agricultural commodity, but we know how to give it something more“. there the quality of a coffee in fact, it depends on physical, chemical, sensory, hygienic-sanitary properties, on the vintage of the harvest, but also on the work processes.

Where do the beans come from?

It all starts from here, come on coffee beans or the seeds enclosed in the fruit of the coffee plant, an evergreen in the family of Rubiàcee, genus Coffea. Among the 124 species of this genus are the best known and most widespread Arabic (Coffee arabica) and that robust (Coffea canephora). Names you’ve probably heard before. These plants grow between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the so-called coffee belt. They are therefore tropical varieties and the most important producing countries are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia And Indonesia. From here begins the journey that will lead to the creation of an intoxicating liquid, a journey where we Italians have a leading role and the market recognizes it more and more. Just think that, according to the estimates made by the Italian Coffee Committee on the basis of data from Istat, in 2021, exports of Italian roasted coffee marked +13.2%.

Purchase of raw material

It is not enough to extract the seeds and put them in water to get a good coffee. These must be selected, roasted and mixed, especially when it comes to Italian espresso. Do you think the Bolognese company Coin has more than 80 recipes of blends to meet the different needs of customers. Some have the same composition, ie the same percentages of Arabica and Robusta, but the frying changes so that we can taste another drink in the cup. All of these elements are actually fundamental in determining the taste and character of a coffee and it is important to offer a constant quality and balance of flavors from year to year.

How does the supply chain go then? In Coind, they explained it a sample of raw coffee is evaluated (not roasted). This is called a pre-sale test. The control is maximum so that even after the purchase, the sample before the purchase is compared with a second sample on arrival in port (usually in Genoa or Trieste) and with a third when it arrives at the company. Here the coffee is stored according to origin and is only moved at the time of roasting. Throughout the process, the beans are exposed to macro and micro purification systems to ensure a perfect product.

Frying

This is an important procedure for yielding coffee beans organoleptic and aromatic profile that distinguishes each mixture. Just think that over 800 aroma components are developed with roasting. Coind uses two different machines, one trumrostare (slower) and a hot air (faster). Because? Because in this way we get beans that are characterized by different aromatic profiles. From a room called control room the operators control the temperature and time curves on the monitors according to the mixture to be produced. They also check that everyone Bench coffee is roasted in the same way and therefore has certain organoleptic properties.

Mixture

The recipes for the different blends are created to satisfy consumers’ demands, but they can also represent a tradition and a territory. Just think of how the coffee taste changes (and also the amount in the cup) from Veneto to Sicily. As we have mentioned, there are many and it is important that the sensory properties of each remain constant from year to year. The aromas of a coffee in fact, like all agricultural products, they can vary depending on crop, climate variations, etc. It becomes easy and direct to make a comparison with the wine world and think about how the taste varies by vintage, if it was a hot and dry summer and so on. A roaster’s skill therefore also lies in knowing how to regularly balance the different types of coffee (the so-called origin) to always offer a certain quality and identity. Another area in the coffee supply chain where our professionals make the difference.

Spice

At this time in grain they need a rest period (1 – 10 days) to release the carbon dioxide that has formed inside them. Then there will be another one degassing after grinding. For example, if you find a package of coffee that is depleted of air, it may be that the beans had not released all the carbon dioxide before the packaging and the gas forced into the seal, which jeopardized the correct preservation and quality of the product.

Grinding

After this phase, the coffee can be packaged in beans, especially for distribution in bars, or the beans can be pulverized. This is important to increase the contact area between the coffee and the water to facilitate the extraction of the beverage. The degree of grinding (fine, medium, coarse) actually changes the extraction rate and thus the properties of the final beverage. How do you choose? Depending on the extraction method. where fine grinding it is suitable for espresso coffee that needs to get the most out of it in seconds. where average recommended for suede while it bearish for filter coffee or American coffee (not to be confused with American coffee). This phase is also important and sensitive. During our visit to Coind, they pointed out that the rollers used are cooled so that there is no heat exchange between them and the beans. It will actually have happened to us at home, perhaps with pesto, to understand how the heat can ruin the end result.

Packaging and storage

Here we are in the final stages. After coffee it is ready to be distributed and come to our homes. At Coind, we learned that demand is high for today capsules, but capsules or packages of coffee powder are also manufactured. Italy is, among other things, a world leader in coffee packaging machines and in the Bolognese company, they have a facility built by another important local company, Ima, which can produce 450 capsules per minute. The important thing is not only to choose a quality product, but also to store it correctly. How? Once opened, the package should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Of course, preparation is also crucial to improving the work of the entire supply chain, but this is another fascinating story. We just remind you that if you at the table or counter need a cup of brown foam and button white or a black hole in the middle means your coffee is overextracted and it becomes strong, bitter and astringent in the palate.

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