Coffee Lingo: Sorting

Sorting: (v.) because things don’t always sort themselves out.

Once a coffee is hulled, washed, dried, and the flaky outer parchment is removed, it goes through a process of sorting to remove debris and defective beans. Usually, coffee is sorted for size and density using machines that shake the coffee through sieves and bring the biggest, densest, best beans forward. Color is one of the most important aspects by which coffee is sorted – and one of the trickiest. One off-color bean could ruin a cup with a strange taste. While there are machines that detect the color of beans, in many parts of the world, coffee producers rely on hand- and sight-sorting. Some of the best coffees, such as our YirgZ “zero-defect” coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, is sorted 3 times by hand to ensure that every bean that makes it into your cup is damn near perfect.

yirgz sorting-8.jpg

Women sorting coffee by hand in Ethiopia.

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