There are several legends about the origin of coffee, but there is general agreement that it all began in Ethiopia. Today one can find coffee plantations in many tropical countries from South America to Africa and Asia. The greater part of production is concentrated around the Equator in countries like Brasil, Ethiopia, India, en Vietnam. Each country produces coffee with a unique taste and even within countries taste can vary according to a region’s soil, height, and microclimate. Many of Mokafina’s coffee beans are sourced from Brasil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, India, and Indonesia.
2. THE COFFEE PLANT
Unroasted coffee beans are the core of the fruit of the coffee plant. Worldwide there are more than 60 coffee plant types. The ones which are most often cultivated are those producing Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica varieties. Arabica is the most popular. This one is widely grown in Brasil, the world’s largest coffee growing country.
Different programs ensure that the coffee beans roasted at Mokafina are traded fairly. Mokafina carefully selects its beans starting in the origin countries. By shortening the link between coffee farms and coffee roaster and closely supervising the entire journey of the bean, we guarantee that the products we handle are traded fairly.
3. THE COFFEE BEAN
Coffee beans coming from different coffee plants differ in form, colour, and above all, in taste. Also, how the harvested coffee beans are processed varies from country to country and from coffee variety to variety. This further increases the many variations in taste, even amongst the same coffee variety that comes from different origins. Two widely used coffee processing methods are the washed method and the natural method. During the washed processing, the coffee beans undergo a process of fermentation through which the beans and the fruit pulp are placed in a water tank to gist for a determined period of time (24 to 72 hours) to ferment. After fermentation the beans covered with a fine peel are sundried or in drying ovens. After this step the peel is eliminated and the beans can be prepared for export. The natural processing consists of the red, ripe coffee cherries being dried in the sun after harvesting. The cherry turns hard and then it is carefully crushed. The beans are released and the dried shells are manually separated. Subsequently the coffee beans can be prepared for export. This procedure is often used in Brasil for its Santos Arabica coffee, which in turn is often the basis for most washed Arabica blends. In most Robusta growing countries (Vietnam, Indonesia, and countries in West Africa) this process is greatly used due to lower production costs. These coffees are heavier in taste but ensure that the blends are not lacking the required spiciness.
4. THE SELECTION
As is the case with wine, every coffee harvest and processing is subject to changing factors that influence their taste. It is thus possible to encounter strong differences in the taste of coffees of the same variety coming from the same region. To guarantee the best and consistent quality, every lot of coffee that is imported is tested before entering our coffee roasting facility.
Coffee beans that are approved after the first quality control are put in traditional jute bags of 60 to 70 kg and transported. The reason for the use of jute is not a nostalgic one, as this is the ideal material to counter the threat of rotting because while the coffee beans are securely packaged, they are not entirely sealed. Thus, when the bags are stacked it allows for consistent and sufficient ventilation. One container can transport between 275 to 320 bags. Once they arrive at the port of Antwerp, the coffee beans are subject to a further quality control: roasting and tasting. This enables to analyse the form, colour, and taste of the coffee beans, to assess whether the beans are qualitative and correspond to the beans that were previously tested at origin.
To obtain decaffeinated coffee, the caffeine is already extracted from coffee beans prior to roasting. Caffeine can be dissolved and extracted via different methods. Dried caffeine is so concentrated that even a small teaspoon can be fatal for the human being. Depending on the coffee bean’s origin, it can contain between 0,8 to 2,5 % caffein.
Many of the coffees that end up in our cups consist of a mixture of diverse coffee beans. Because every lot of coffee can differ from a previous one, the difference in taste must be exactly determined to find the correct proportion of the coffee beans used for a blend. Only this way it is possible to achieve an end product of consistent quality and characteristics. This means that even for a coffee consisting of only one lot of coffee, it is necessary to determine the difference in taste. Once this is done, the proportions for the final Mokafina products can be determined under guidance of the master roaster. This whole process requires deep training in tasting as well as artisan knowledge. It’s a matter of science and art.
Mokafina roasts the blended coffee beans the artisanal way. This means that starting more than half a century ago, we have been working with a long procedure of approximately 14 minutes, where the beans are roasted at lower temperatures. By opting for this process, the beans are roasted to their core, which guarantees an end result of very high quality. On the contrary, with shorter roasting processes the beans are often roasted on the surface only, which lowers the resulting coffee quality. Immediately after roasting the beans are cooled down and vacuum packed to protect their aroma and taste.
Our coffee roasting facility works daily. By spreading out the processing, the beans are never kept in stock for long and thus the coffee we supply is always freshly roasted. This is important considering that once the coffee is roasted it can begin to lose part of its taste. The products that Mokafina offers today are guarantees of an authentic and artisanal taste. Each cup an enjoyable experience for the real coffee lover.