Coffee Cherries

It’s no secret that I’m an avid drinker of coffee and tea. You might think that I’d be knowledgable about where the ingredients of these drinks come from. Like most of us, though, I’m terribly ignorant about what goes into many of the foods I eat. I did not even know that “coffee beans” are actually the seeds of coffee cherries, a cherry-like fruit.
Thankfully, I came across Coffee Sage, a site dedicated to sharing information on coffee and tea. It’s a delightful site to visit for any of us coffee lovers and tea-tempted souls. I was reading through the entries there and was surprised when I read the following:

Did you know that the fruit produced by coffee trees are called cherries? Inside each cherry are seeds, which are the coffee beans. Imagine that!

Well, I felt quite ignorant when I had read that so I went looking for further information.
At How Stuff Works I came to “How Coffee Works,” a fairly detailed look at the process of getting coffee from the trees to our cups. There is so much I simply did not know about coffee, and it’s really quite facinating. Just the details about the fruit itself were rich with wonder-inducement.

What we call a coffee bean is actually the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. Coffee trees produce berries, called coffee cherries, that turn bright red when they are ripe and ready to pick. The fruit is found in clusters along the branches of the tree. The skin of a coffee cherry (the exocarp) is thick and bitter. However, the fruit beneath it (the mesocarp) is intensely sweet and has the texture of a grape. Next comes the parenchyma, a slimy, honey-like layer, which helps protect the beans. The beans themselves are covered by a parchment-like envelope called the endocarp. This protects the two, bluish-green coffee beans, which are covered by yet another membrane, called the spermoderm or silver skin.

Admitting this ignorance makes me wonder just how much we do not know about the things we use daily. Would we appreciate more in our lives if we knew the human effort and natural wonder that goes into each day’s necessities and luxuries?

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