Specialty Coffee Processing
Specialty Coffee Processing at farm level requires high attention to detail. It is the opposite end of the scale when compared to commercial farming.
We ask our farmers to work as sustainably as possible to strengthen soil and plants. In close collaboration with local quality exporters, our growers do everything they can to produce high coffee qualities. Only ripe cherries have a chance to develop minerals, sugars and flavours - so Specialty farmers have to pick in various rounds during harvest season, which takes around 3-5 months. Bad or underripe cherries and beans with defects have to be sorted out. There is a constant process of sorting out lower grades. Lots can also be separated by plots, mono-varietals, or even the weeks in which they were harvested (early harvest, late harvest etc.)
Very advanced farmers keep different varietals on different parts of their mountain, or operate different processing styles (natural, honey, washed, anaerobics, maceration etc). Slow drying, ideally on raised African beds, is important in order to keep all flavours inside the beans - it also helps achieve a longer shelf lives for the coffees. Sorting does not end at farm level - in the dry mills, we prefer working with specialists that can keep our microlots separate and that operate with accuracy and attention to detail. Bringing secondary defects close to zero is our goal. Optical sorters and UV-light controls are additional steps in controlling top qualities.
Top quality cherries about to be processed to Specialty standards in Ethiopia