Today we learn a bit about coffee processing. Step one when getting coffee cherries from the farmers is to ensure the coffee is properly ripe and picked through. Then you can float the cherries which tells you which ones are floaters and include underdeveloped beans or other issues. You can take those off the top as in the video and then reprocess those later in smaller batches and separate the good beans from the bad.
In the next photos, we see two drying processes; natural and washed. The natural process leaves the coffee cherries intact and allows them to ferment a bit inside the cherry itself while it dries. This process takes longer and requires more labor, so if you see a bag of natural coffee in the store buy it. The flavor is sweeter but without sacrificing the coffee bitterness and body, probably my favorite coffee so far comes from the natural process.
The red cherries turn a darker color as they dry. The beans on the right and in my hand are called parchment. They are run through a pulper while still red and turn into parchment. The parchment is an endocarp that remains on the bean and that too is removed before it turns to green bean and is ready for roasting. Naturals can take about 30 days to dry and washed take about 24 days.
There are hundreds of ways to dry, ferment, and process coffee. The best roasters and producers experiment with the flavors and understand their coffee from farmer to cup and taste it all the way through. Tasting the red cherry pulp and feeling the beans as they went through the process was definitely a highlight of the trip. I've personally picked cherries, processed them, and tasted the results.
Here we see the pulper in action in slow motion for dramatic effect. This machine separates the red cherries from the coffee bean that we recognize as coffee.
Part of my work is plant and soil evaluations for the nursery and farms. Since we are spending time at the mill where the nursery is I took the time to do an evaluation. I'm also planning out a use for the pulp and wastewater that comes off the mill. The slide show below also shows the mill storage and the parchment processer that turns the dried coffee to green bean ready for final packing and shipping to a roaster.
Bonus neighborhood kids playing next to the mill.
The next day we prep and attend a party member election for the Xieng Khouang province as it is a good opportunity to meet some of the party members and represent MX Coffee. Some of the other province shop owners are there as well and they share their lunch with us.
Ok well, that concludes posting for today. Now you should have a better idea of what my general activities are and what I have been up to. Not to mention why I haven't been able to post nearly as much.
As always, we'd love to share our coffee with you so add it to your coffee and help us continue this work.