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The Coffee Cherry

Hello!  And welcome to our first blog of the year!

For our first blog I thought, why not start where our coffee journey begins? The Coffee Cherry. Have you ever thought about how that delicious, roasted coffee bean starts out?

The coffee beans we brew and drink every day are the seeds of a small berry, referred to as the coffee cherry. Two seeds lie inside each cherry, unless it is a pea berry: a cherry where the seeds did not separate so you have one round bean.

Native to subtropical Africa and southern Asia, botanically the coffee plant is classified as an evergreen shrub, but it is mostly referred to as a bush or tree.

Coffee bushes have glossy, dark green oval leaves and small, fragrant white flowers that bloom simultaneously in clusters lasting only a few days, signalling the start of the coffee cherry growth! The views and sweet fragrances across the coffee hills when the flowers are in bloom are gorgeous. And in the Hawaiian Kona region, it is referred to as Kona Snow.

The coffee cherry begins as a green, unripe berry, that gradually ripens to yellow, turning to an orange colour, before finally turning a beautiful deep red. This is when it is harvested for the famous beans! Though some varietals ripen to yellow. The whole growing and ripening of the coffee cherry takes about eight months but can vary due to factors like climate, soil, other foliage (e.g. shade-grown), varietal and altitude. Though the ripeness is determined primarily by colour a more precise method is to squeeze the cherry, and if the seed (bean) comes out easily, then the cherry is ripe for harvest.

After harvesting, the next step to getting our cup of coffee is to remove the seeds, or beans, from the cherry.

Looking at the cherry you just think it is like a cherry: fruit and seed, just remove the fruit! But it is not so clear cut, and this is where it starts to get interesting.

Each coffee cherry is made up of several layers: the outer skin (pulp) or exocarp; the mucilage or mesocarp, a silky, sticky layer, this sticky mucilage is composed of natural sugars and alcohols and contributes massively to the sweetness, acidity, and overall flavour profile of the coffee; a papery layer or endocarp called parchment; and the silver skin, a membrane which covers the two seeds.

Coffee processing is the removal of these layers of fruit. There are several ways to do it, removing all layers at once, some layers first and leaving some on, drying in the sun, or washing in water to mention but some; with each method impacting the flavour of the coffee differently. But let’s leave all that information for another blog... or two!

While the beans inside the coffee cherry are typically the prize and what is sought after, there's a growing market for the cherry fruit itself either dried and made into Cascara (coffee cherry tea), or ground into a coffee flour that can be used as an alternative flour. Currently we are not allowed to import or sell these products due to EU regulations, but hopefully we can soon. It is a great way to help cut down on waste and provide an additional income for coffee farmers.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed our first blog. We’ll be back next month!



I think your website has a lot of useful knowledge. I’m so thankful for this website.

Very interest blog Marisa and I look forward to subsequent parts of the story and perhaps the workings of you and the team that gets great coffee to my cup.

Very interest blog Marisa and I look forward to subsequent parts of the story and perhaps the workings of you and the team that gets great coffee to my cup.

Thanks Marisa,
Your writing perfectly compliments my all time favourite shop. Just knowing that you guys are still there is as comforting as the coffee you regularly send me! Stuck as I am in the wilds of Essex the arrival of my aromatic parcels from the “Algerian” have kept me sane over the last couple of years! Long may you reign and big thank-you for the 5 decades of wonderful service that Algerian has given me. All the very best to you and the team and am looking forward to your next blog

Wonderful , I can almost smell the flowers from here. Just as it was 60 years ago on the Mambilla Plateau. 24/2/22.

The relatively thin outer red cover of the coffee bean I have tasted in Bolivia from just bush picked beans. The flavour is deliciously sweet when the colour is red, carrying a hint of the coffee bean within. Whether right or wrong I was told not to taste too much. Reason not mentioned,

Fascinating! But where was the honey washing??

Well, I’ve been visiting Algerian Coffee since I was a small kid, with my dad, who worked for the Musicians Union and he’d hang out on Archer Street, just round the corner from the store, with the musos. You used to have two, red, gas-powered coffee roasting machine in the shop window and you could smell the roasting coffee on Charing X Road! Soho as it was, not the shadow of its former self that it is now.

Thank you Marisa, what a fascinating read!! I went to Brazil many years ago and saw some coffee bushes, it was after flowering but all the same they look beautiful, all shiny and glossy.

Now I know how little I knew before. I wonder if it would be possible to assemble a taster-pack of coffees produced under different processes – the exercise of comparison might improve my palate!

Loved the first blog! Fascinating to learn more about the origins of my daily cuppa! During the lockdowns your mail order service kept us all going and i always look forward to my regular trips to the shop. One of the best small businesses in London!! Not to mention the best coffee!!! Keep up the good work guys!!
All the best, Neil


As a very satisfied customer for over 50 years this is a lovely new edition to your business, don’t know how you find time to do this as you will know you’re a very busy company, also I always order my delivery on the telephone and it’s always such a pleasure to talk with Carla, so keep up the good work.

Kind regards best wishes stay safe

Raymond Julian- Huxley

How fascinating! Thank you for that.

Interesting new blog. Hopefully deliveries might start this year to the USA. I am addicted to your coffees and teas. Hope everyone stays safe.
All best, Suzanne

Very informative and enjoyed reading

Thank you for all the information

I’d previously seen something of the coffee production but never before so beautifully detailed nor so well explained. Thank you. And I look forward to news of my favourite: the Vietnamese ‘buon ma trout ’ which has been unavailable for a while. Any news? Happy New Year, if it is not too late.

Thanks! Makes the picture clearer. I look forward to more on the technical / botanical side. Then I’m sure you have much lore built up of Times on the Coffee Trade since 1997.

Most of all – thanks for amaizng offee and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Thanks I love learning about coffee, very clear.
Look forward to hearing more about the different processes.

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