PICKING & PROCESSING

It all happens at the farm.

Coffee is a plant; a member of the genus Coffea in the family Rubiaceae. There are two main types of coffee, Arabica and Robusta, and many varietals within those types.

The ideal growing conditions for high quality coffee include a lot of sunshine, moderate rainfall, high altitude, consistent temperatures between 20°C and 30°C, and no frost.

For high quality coffee, picking the cherries by hand is the most effective way. Pickers select only the cherries that are ready for harvest and leave the unripe cherries on the tree to be picked later. Finishing hand picking on the same tree may take up to 4 months. How raw coffee bean is processed after harvested plays a critical role on the cup quality. Picked coffee cherries are processed to remove the skin of the cherry to reveal the bean. Two processes can be used: the “washed” or wet process and the “natural” or dry process.

At the beginning, coffee beans have 60% moisture and dried down to 12% during the process.

It all happens at the farm.

Wet process
In the wet process, the cherry flesh or skin is forcibly removed from the seeds by a mechanical pulping machine, usually within 6 hours after picking. The seeds / beans are then placed in large fermentation tanks, wherein a 12 – 36 hour “bath” loosens the slippery mucilage from the Parchment on the seeds. Fermentation is an exacting science and is critical to developing the acidity and flavours of the coffee.

The parchment layer remains attached as the beans (now called “parchment coffee”) are left to dry for twelve to fifteen days in big, open, sunny areas on drying tables where they are turned or raked several times a day to ensure even drying. During this time beans with defects are removed.

Dry Process
The dry process simply entails allowing the coffee cherries to dry in the sun on raised drying beds which allow a better airflow around the cherries for even drying for up to four weeks. The cherries are turned regularly to avoid moulding fermentation or rotting. Then hulling the dry husks takes place to reveal the beans.

Once dried, the parchment coffee is transported to a dry mill where the parchment shells of the beans are removed in a hulling machine.

The beans are then sorted by size and density. Sorting helps to group similar quality beans and also remove defective beans. Sorting is done by hand several times and also by various machines which sort by size, weight, and density. This is used to “grade” the green beans for sale.

The green beans are then bagged in 60kg jute or sisal bags with GrainPro liners.

It all happens at the farm.

Transporting coffee

In East Africa, coffee is shipped from Djibouti, Mombasa in Kenya, and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Coffee is transported by ship in containers. It is crucial that the containers are properly sealed to avoid contamination and tampering. Green coffee is stored on pallets in a dry, clean, pest-free warehouse.

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