The Ultimate Coffee Glossary

Colour Sorting

What is Colour Sorting?

Colour sorting is an important step in coffee processing that involves removing beans with colour defects from the stream of green coffee beans. These defects can be caused by insect damage, disease, or other factors and can affect the flavor and quality of the final coffee product.
To carry out colour sorting, coffee beans are first cleaned and then passed through a machine equipped with a high-speed camera that scans the beans for color defects. When a defect is detected, the machine uses a jet of air to remove the off-colored bean from the stream. This process is efficient and can sort large quantities of coffee beans quickly.
However, most high-quality coffee also involves hand colour sorting. This process involves manually inspecting each individual bean to check for colour defects that may have been missed by the optical sorting machine. The women who carry out this task are highly skilled and experienced, and they use their knowledge of coffee defects and their color recognition abilities to ensure that only the highest quality beans are selected.
Hand sorting is a slower and more labor-intensive process than optical sorting, but it is essential for producing truly exceptional coffee. By removing defective beans, the remaining beans can be roasted and brewed to create a coffee with a cleaner, more consistent flavour profile. Additionally, the process provides employment opportunities for workers in coffee-producing countries, contributing to the sustainability of the industry.
Overall, colour sorting is an important step in coffee processing that helps to ensure the quality and consistency of the final product. By removing defective beans, coffee roasters and importers can offer their customers a superior coffee experience that is free from unwanted flavours and aromas.
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