National Coffee Day is around the corner – next week in fact. Have you ever wondered about the story behind your morning cup of coffee and how it came to be? At Dunkin’ Donuts, this is called the “tree-to-cup” process.

So, what exactly does tree-to-cup mean? For Dunkin’, it’s all about providing a quality coffee sourcing process that begins at the coffee farm and ends with you enjoying your coffee. It’s also comparable to farm-to-table eating, wherein consumers know where their coffee comes from and where it goes at every stopping point, all the way to the cup they drink it in.

In addition to being committed to quality, Dunkin’ Donuts is also committed to sourcing sustainable coffee. Dunkin’ has been working with the Rainforest Alliance since 2010, donating $260,000 to projects aimed at preserving and growing coffee and tea farms throughout the world. The company has also furthered its commitment to sustainable sourcing by offering 30 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Dark Roast Coffee and regionally offering 30 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Green Tea.”

Products bearing the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal originate on—or contain ingredients sourced from—Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms or forests. These farms and forests are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria designed to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.

About Tree-to-Cup

Tree-to-cup coffee begins at the source (coffee farms) and has literally hundreds of steps along the way before reaching consumers. Let’s explore the journey and get a glimpse of how Dunkin Donuts’ famous coffee comes to be.

GROWING

Dunkin’ Donuts uses only 100 percent Arabica coffee beans and ensures they only select the highest quality coffee available. To do this, the company works with independent coffee labs located in the same origin as the coffee farms. The labs are responsible for performing continuous quality evaluations, and work with coffee producers and exporters to communicate the company’s strict quality requirements.

coffee farmThe first step of Tree-to-Cup coffee is going to the source.

PICKING

Coffee beans are not really beans at all; they are actually the seeds of the coffee fruit, called a cherry, which grows on trees in more than 60 countries. Each coffee tree only yields enough fruit for about one pound of roasted coffee per year. An experienced cherry picker can pick as much as 200 pounds of coffee cherries in a single day.

Coffee cherry The coffee cherry conceals the bean within.

PROCESSING

Since coffee beans are actually the seeds of coffee fruit, the fruit must be processed to get to the bean. The surrounding fruit and protective layers that make up the cherry must be removed. Once freed from the cherry, the green coffee beans are cleaned and then classified on a number of quality criteria, including their size and color.

coffee cherryThe cherry produced by the coffee tree conceals the bean.

BLENDING

To make the perfect, well-balanced cup of coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts blends different beans together to create a deeper, richer profile, adding complexity to each cup while maintaining a smooth finish. The beans for all Dunkin’ Donuts roasts are blended according to the company’s secret recipes.

Blending coffeeBlending different beans is a key to making the best cup of coffee.

ROASTING

Roasting is where the magic happens and the point where green coffee beans are transformed into the familiar, rich, mocha-colored beans that we all know so well. During this process, the beans undergo both chemical and physical changes, which is seen by the beans’ color evolving from green to yellow to brown as they are evenly roasted. When the beans begin to turn brown, the sugar in them caramelizes, revealing the smooth, sweet flavor of the coffee.

roasted coffee Roasting coffee unlocks its true flavor.

TASTE TESTING

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right? Dunkin’ Donuts has an entire Coffee Excellence Team that conducts a full sensory evaluation of its finished coffee products. The team of coffee experts taste an average of 200 cups of coffee each day to ensure Dunkin’ Donuts coffee products consistently meet their high quality standards. Pretty cool gig, huh?

Dunkin' coffee taste test Dunkin' Donuts tastes its coffee at every step, ensuring nothing but the best reaches your cup.

BREWING

After being selected to meet Dunkin’ Donuts’ quality standards, the brewed quality of the coffee is not left to chance. At Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, every detail is carefully orchestrated, including the temperature and amount of water used, the timing and consistency of bean grinding, and the length of time the coffee is brewed.

coffee roaster The brewing process starts with the perfect roast before grinding the beans.

SERVING

There are literally hundreds of steps in the coffee process that have to take place in order for us to sip our morning cup of coffee. We can rest assured knowing that if at any one stop along the tree to cup journey the coffee doesn’t meet the company’s standards, it won’t make it into a Dunkin’ Donuts cup. Dunkin’ Donuts never takes a smooth, delicious, consistent cup of coffee for granted—so that its customers can.

Dunkin' Donuts coffee cupThe finished product.