When coffee berries are picked off the plants, they do not go straight to being roasted beans that you can grind and brew into that cup of coffee that you are familiar with. They first take the form of green coffee beans, which essentially are unroasted beans.
The beans are actually the seeds of the coffee berry. To get them, the flesh of the coffee berry is taken out, usually with the use of a machine. This is done only after the berries have been carefully sorted through according to color and degree of ripeness. After the flesh of the coffee berry has been removed, you are left with the seeds, or the coffee beans. These are then fermented so that the slimy mucilage left coating the beans are removed.
After fermentation, the coffee beans are then soaked and washed in lots of fresh water. This is to further remove the residue left over from the fermentation process. Also, this process of washing the beans with water leaves you with huge quantities of what is termed as tainted coffee wastewater.
Nonetheless, at the end of the whole process you get coffee beans which, once dried and sorted through, are now considered green. These beans are then roasted to make the beverage that most of us are familiar with.
There are many different varieties of green coffee beans. Among the more popular ones are organic, and even decaffeinated ones, Jamaican blue mountain, and Hawaiian. Specific examples of organic green coffee beans include Cenaproc and Colonial Caranavi from Bolivia; Poco Fundo from Brazil; Cauca, Popayan, Ocamonte, Norte Caldas and Sierra Nevada from Colombia; La Alianza from Costa Rica; San Mauricio Pipil from El Salvador; Huehuetenango from Guatemala; Peaberry from Tanzania; Ermera from Timor; and Mandheling from Sumatra.
When buying green coffee beans, be sure to be on the lookout for possible flaws which are common to them. For example, these beans may turn out faded, as when they have been over dried or have been exposed to too much moisture. Also watch out for so-called amber beans, which are a result of deficiencies of certain minerals in the soil, and which will result in bitter-tasting and flat coffee. Green water damaged beans are another set which you must avoid, as these are moldy and toxic to the body as a result of fully processed beans undergoing a chemical reaction with water. Over-fermented green coffee beans, which are brownish and appear soiled, will result in roasted coffee that smells like rotting flesh – and that is something that no coffee should ever smell like!