Monday, December 09, 2013

Where the Coffee Goes After Picking!

Last year we joined the Palmares Coffee Cooperative or Coopepalmares.  They have recibidoras in Berlin and have an annual production of about 50,000 bags of 46 Kgs. (100 #) of coffee.  Last year they celebrated being in business for 50 years and have over 1,400 small coffee producers like us.  
A couple weeks ago we were invited to the processing plant for an introduction to the coop and the processing of coffee.  Unfortunately, the meeting was in Spanish and we understood very little.  Nicely, the are sending us an English translation!  The meeting finished and we were taken on a tour.  Again, in Spanish, but we have lots of photos and some understanding of what they are about.  We will pass on what we understood and hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did.

The drying of coffee is done the old fashioned way with wood!  One of the first things we walked by was endless stacks of wood and a storage silo.

So much of what we saw was very interesting to look at but we weren't sure what we were seeing.

Everything seemed large!

We weren't alone on the tour but we were the only Gringos.  We don't think there are too many Gringos working coffee farms here in Costa Rica.

This is a recibidora like the one we go to in Berlin, however, it is located at the plant and has many stations.  If we are unable to get to our local recibidora before it closes, we can bring our coffee here.

It is my belief that the coffee is washed here before it is dried.  When the coffee is picked it is very sticky and wet.  Washing it cleans of this stickiness and helps to remove the skins.

 Once the coffee is washed it is placed in these bins that turn and the berries go through rollers that forces the two coffee beans away from the skins.  This also shows the grated walkways we used throughout the plant.

OSHA would not approve of our tour!   We walked on grated walk ways, up and down grated stairs and around numerous cords and things along the way.

More washing of the coffee!  Once the skins are removed, the coffee beans are washed once again before being put into vats for drying.

Moving the coffee from one step to another.

This is one of the wood heated vats where the coffee is dried.  These vats go round and round and are loaded and unloaded through small doors.

Moving from one step to another.

Not sure what this is used for but I found it unusual! Probably for carrying large burlap sacks!

This is the big wood fired furnace.  The logs that are used are huge!  While we were there a guy was shoving wood in through a door and the size of the furnace was amazing!

This coffee is dry and being released from the large drum where it has been turning and heated.

The video really gives you the experience of being there.  As you can see from all the photos, this was one of the most interesting areas of the whole process.

Round and round the drum goes and the coffee spills out in piles.

Yep!  Another area!  If we remember correctly, this is where they separate the coffee into different grades.  There are 4 different coffees as well as special coffees for individuals.  Some of their coffee is sun dried.  At the end we will post a picture of the 4 different coffees.

Coffee drying in the sun!

This machine blows the last remaining husk from the coffee.  When it comes from the vat it is dry but has a light husk that needs to be removed.

This is the end of the process and,  where the coffee is bagged!

She probably understood more of what was being said than we did and was very cute!

A very old scale used to weigh the sacks of coffee.

Machine used to sew the sacks of coffee when full.

At the end of the tour we were taken to a very nice room where we were showed the difference between good and bad coffee and how to properly taste.  Much like wine tasting with a different buzz!  Coffee was served with food and then we were sent along our way.  A wonderful experience, nice people and a process we've been curious about for quite some time. 

The 4 different kinds of coffee that the Palmares Cooperative, where our coffee is processed, sells.  It is sold here in Costa Rica as well as in the U.S.  Keep a look out and let us know if you see it while shopping!!

1 comment:

Carole said...

Very interesting. I was a little concerned about the guy raking the drying coffee while walking through it, though. Does it get washed again before bagging?