ESL Listening: What is Coffee Lesson

Here is a short ESL video lesson that describes for English students what coffee is. By the end of this ESL lesson, my students should be able to describe what coffee is and where it comes from.

This video lesson and transcript comes from HowCast.

What is Coffee?


tropical climate, high altitude, ripe, roasted


  1. Where does coffee come from?
  2. Is coffee a fruit?
  3. What color is the coffee cherry when it is ripe?
  4. What happens to the cherry around the coffee bean?
  5. What color is final bean after drying?
  6. When does the bean become brown or black?


Here is the transcript for the video. The transcript comes from HowCast.

My name is Mike Jones, and I’m a barista at Third Rail Coffee right by Washington Square Park in New York City. I’m going to teach you some basic coffee-making skills.

So what is coffee? Coffee is actually the cherry that is grown on the coffee plant, which is a tree or a shrub. And most quality coffee is grown between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and higher altitudes, so just tropical climate. There are many steps that this has to go through in order to be the coffee that you can drink at home. It goes from the cherry, to being picked when it’s perfectly ripe—it will be this nice red color. And, then you have to wash off the fruit.

There are different ways of processing it. Some people will ferment it for a longer period of time in order to remove the sticky coating around the seed on the inside. So this bean that’s at the middle of the cherry is actually what gets turned into the beans you’re used to seeing.

The final step is drying and then shipping it off to a roaster. At this point, it’s green coffee, so it’s not yet roasted. It’s much harder than a coffee bean you might be used to seeing. And it has like an olive green/yellowish color to it. From there, it is roasted, and then sent off to stores or cafés, and then ground and then brewed to be drank, and it’s delicious.

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