The process of how the coffee is picked and delivered to the United States is critical in maintaining incredible quality and taste to YOU the end customer. There are many steps that happen in between and we thought it would be exciting to provide a little insight into the coffee process. Coffee is a journey and each cup tells a specific story about that coffee bean and its global impact (this is just the wet process coffee).
Village Elevations: 3600-4300 ft. Type of Plant: Catimor
Our coffee cherries (as they are called from the coffee tree) can be either red/orange or yellow in color. The cherries are ready to be picked when the seeds are able to easily be popped out of the cherry skin and into your hand. Waiting til the right time for the picking is crucial to achieving the maximum flavor for the coffee.
After baskets are collected of cherries, the next step is to take the cherries to the pulping stations. Here the cherries are ran through the machine which separates the beans (or sometimes referred to as seeds) from the skin of the cherries. It becomes now apparent what product will end up being roasted and brewed into your morning coffee cup! As the cherries are ran through this machine, metal blades set to certain distances from one another remove the beans out and separate them. The skin and remainder of the cherry can then be used for composting into the hillsides or used as alternative sources of feed for livestock/chickens/pigs.
Now its time for the beans to be cleansed and washed (on our honey process, the beans are not cleansed but rather skip straight to the drying stage of the process). This is done by moving them into tanks of water where they can be rinsed and washed to be as clean as possible. The rinsing/washing often happens up to 7 times. At this stage beans that are smaller and may have defects are removed from the rest of the beans as they float to the service. This means they don’t have the density to sink as the others do. Quality and grading is done throughout much of the process to ensure high quality!
The seeds after being rinsed will then stay in the tanks or containers for about 1-2 days to ferment. This is done in order to clean the bean. The length of time that they beans stay fermenting depends on the temperature outside, the desired profile for the bean as well as how thick the layer of mucilage is. The process allows for certain bacteria to take over and do its natural thing.
You have probably seen pictures of our beans on outdoor bamboo drying beds. This is where the beans are not laid out in a thin layer as to use the sun naturally dry the beans. The beans are raked and rotated to create an even amount of drying around the entire bean. The bamboo allows for an even amount of airflow to be present on top and bottom of the bean resulting in equal distribution of air, this is why they are typically on raised beds. There are mechanical drying machines but when we have such an amazing free resource as the sun we take advantage of being energy efficient and resourceful! The end result of this process is typically referred to as the bean being in the “parchment” stage. In this stage the beans can be stored for a little while longer than in the green and ready to roast stage.
Hulling: The beans are then transferred to a hulling machine where the parchment is removed. The machines then take the green bean out of the shell and grade it here into 2 separate qualities. Grade A and Grade B. There are sizing sheets that allow the smaller beans to slip through and are placed in a separate container than Grade A beans. The parchment is also kept to be utilized as compost and typically is taken back up to the hills to be placed at the root of the coffee tree.
Grading: Although the beans were graded at the hulling machine they get hand sorted again! This process allows one final check to see if there were any damaged or irregularly shaped beans that made it through the previous checks. We want to ensure that those buying our Grade A product are getting nothing but the best. There are about 50 or so individuals that grade at this stage before sent to the grading machine for a final size grade.
This is the final stage of the coffee before it gets bagged to ship. The coffee goes through different sized sieves, separating the largest beans (grade A) from the smaller beans (grade B) and even the smallest beans (grade C).
Shipping: This is final stage of being bagged into first plastic lines and then burlap sacks. They are weighed so that each bag is exactly 60 kg (132 lbs). The bags are identified with which village they have been picked from and then decaled with paint.
We hope that you have enjoyed the journey of the coffee and have a bit more clarity as far as why our coffee is so unique! Each hand that touches the coffee bean is looking and assessing whether it meets our high quality standards.
If you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.