Thursday, January 03, 2008

More coffee

The first picking is now finished. Goyo and I picked 80 kilos or more over a couple of days, and then Gabriel rang to say Goyo had completed the last of the crop and there were another 20 kilos or so to collect. In the interim we had taken the first 80-90 kilos to Don Anulfo's to get them "despulpadored" -- the skin and flesh removed from the coffee cherry to leave the bean. Dona Angelita came down with her grandson, Lalo, and we drove over with the big sacks of beans to Don Anulfo's. As soon as Don Anulfo had connected up the two bare wires that spring the despulpadora machine into life the action was on.

A tap fed water into the top of the machine where the beans are dropped in. The machine itself is a large wheel -- a disk -- that has spikes on each face. It it driven by an electric motor and the spikes shed the skins. The shedded skins come out the back of the machine at the bottom and the beans are washed out the front into a rectangular concrete "bath" that has a drainage hole. The water seeps out the drain and the beans gather int he bath. When the beans were all done -- about 40 minutes or so of continous feeding in of raw beans -- the beans were shovelled into the sacks they came in, and Don Anulfo spread the shedded material on his garden -- it makes great compost.

The beans were left 24 hours in the sacks to "ferment". This is a process that starts to remove the slime around the beans that is left after the skinning. After having made a rapid trip to Cordoba to visit with a friend there it was time for the next phase of production.

This involved removing the beans from the bags and washing them in large buckets. We rubbed them against our palms to remove the slime,a nd after three complete washing cycles they were in good clean shape. AT that point we carried them up to the roof and spread them out over the floor of the gazebo where they have been drying for the past few days.

The next phase will be to remove the husks around the outside of the bean, leaving the much smaller bean remnant that will be roasted. By the time the "true bean" -- the "cafe oro" (gold) -- has been roasted there will be approximately one kilo for each 7 kilos of original picked raw bean.