It’s a long journey from the hillside farms of Huila, Colombia, to your table at First Watch, with many steps along the way.
- Coffee tree seedlings are planted into moist soil during Huila’s wet season.
- Coffee “cherries” are handpicked by the Mujeres en Café once they reach their ultimate ripeness. It takes approximately 3–4 years for the plant to bear fruit, but it’s worth the wait!
- The “bull’s blood” red fruits are processed at the mill using “The Wet Method” to remove the pulp, producing two beans from each cherry.
- The beans are washed to get rid of the sticky “mucilage.” This process takes 18–24 hours during which the natural sugars liquefy, causing the beans to ferment and build flavor.
- Freshly washed beans are slow dried over several days. Slowly drying the beans is necessary if you want the best tasting coffee… and we do!
- The female coffee farmers take their dried crop to a “bodega” to have the beans inspected by hand. “Bodega” may have a few definitions, but in this case it most closely relates to a warehouse or trading post.
- A thin outer layer, called parchment, is removed, or hulled, from the beans to reveal a pale green bean. It’s still not ready for your coffee cup, but it’s getting there.
- The beans are analyzed for the right size, weight and color. Only the beans that meet the precise qualifications are chosen for the long travel ahead.
- Burlap bags are packed with the beans and trucked to port for shipping. Even this part of the journey could take between 3–4 days.
- The burlap bags travel by sea all the way from Colombia to the Port of Charleston in the United States.
- Finally, the beans are transported to the Royal Cup facility in Birmingham, Alabama, to be roasted. This is where they become the aromatic, brown coffee beans we all love so much.
- Expert tasters conduct “cuppings” to guarantee quality and consistency. It takes a trained (and lucky) individual to taste the nuances of each roast.
- Our well-traveled, exclusive coffee is ground, bagged and shipped to all of our First Watch locations for brewing.
- You say “Yes!” when your server asks if you’d like coffee, and a bottomless pot of Project Sunrise is presented directly to you.
From bean to boat to breakfast, the process couldn’t be done without the people who dedicate their lives to coffee. So, the next time you enjoy a cup, raise a toast them. Cheers!