Coffee beans are actually the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. Coffee trees produce berries, which are actually called cherries. These fruits are green at first before turning red, and each cherry usually contains two beans. The cherries turn bright red when they are ripe and ready to pick.
These seeds or beans of the fruit are then fermented, much as grapes are fermented when making wine, but the end result is different. After the bean has been separated from the fruit, it remains covered in a mucilaginous layer. Fermentation breaks down the mucilage that surrounds the coffee bean. This mucilage, if not removed, will retard the flavor of your coffee and create an undesirable taste.
Like the grapes of fine wines, coffee acquires unique taste characteristics from its local geography and climate. This depends on such factors as altitude, rainfall, type of soil, and how it is processed.
Read the article about brewing a great cup of coffee also at Moons Coffee & Tea.
This article has been reprinted with the kind permission of Linda Stradley from the What's Cooking America website.