A complete description of how your coffee goes from the crop to your cup.
It is possible to propagate coffee plants from cuttings or shoots. Yet most commercial growers choose to start new trees from seeds selected from the trees of known quality, productivity, and longevity. As the seedlings grow, great care is taken to keep the soil moist and weed-free. Within 4 to 8 weeks, leaves will appear and develop. These leaves, Orelhas de Onca, or Panther Ears as the Brazilians call them, are a signal to the planters that the seedlings are ready to be transplanted to the nursery.
Protected from the intense tropical sun by large shade trees, the seedlings are transplanted to beds or containers raised above the normal soil level to encourage thorough drainage. The growers’ conscientious regimen of gradual exposure to more sunlight hardens the young plants, greatly reducing the chance of shock when they are transplanted to the plantation proper.
After 3 to 5 years of diligent feeding, pruning and weeding in the fields, the planters’ patience unfolds in the spectacular flowering of delicate jasmine-scented, snowy-white blossoms. Major flowerings normally coincide with the onset of a rainy season and last only 2-3 days, though less abundant flowerings occur periodically.
Within 2 months of flowering, clusters of green berries appear and grow rapidly. The size of the fruit and eventually the bean is determined by the amount of rain during this time. Coffee trees are thirsty plants requiring at least 70” of rain fall annually, therefore they grow best in mid-latitudes on either side of the equator where warmth and moisture are plentiful.
The bright red coffee cherry is beautiful and colourful to all, but in the eye of the grower it represents years of work. In the cherry, he sees the result of his toil. The coffee cherry – actually a casing for the coffee seed or bean – has 4 layers. The first is the bright red outer husk, followed by a layer of sweet pulp and then a tough skin called the “parchment”. Under this lies one last thin membrane known as the “silver skin”, and then the bean itself.
During the harvest season, whole families turn out and all hands – men, women, and children – join in the work. The Colonos, as coffee pickers are called in Brazil, carefully select only the fully-ripened fruit, leaving any unripe fruit for a second, third, or fourth visit over the 4-to-6-month harvest season. A good picker can harvest as much as 200 pounds of fruit each day, the equivalent of 50-60 pounds of coffee beans.
With the sorting out of any unripe coffee or foreign matter during field harvesting, the coffee cherry is ready for one of the two most commonly used methods of preparation: wet or dry. In the wet method, the pulp is removed mechanically. To loosen remaining pulp, the cherries are placed in a large, clean concrete tank to ferment. The beans are then poured into water and thoroughly washed. They are drained and spread out to dry in the sun or dried mechanically. Next, hulling machines remove the parchment and silver skin to reveal the green beans, which are then sorted and graded for various levels of quality. In the dry method, the cherries are spread out in the sun on patios or drying mats. Turned by rakes several times a day, the beans dry in one to two weeks. When dry, they are transferred to hulling machines for removal of dried husk parchment and silver skin in preparation for sorting and grading.
Before shipment, coffee must be dried from approximately 60% moisture content to 11-12% moisture content. Coffee is typically dried on large patios made of asphalt or cement and then transferred to mechanical dryers. The coffee on the drying patios is shifted every 30-40 minutes. Next to each row is open ground, which is warmed and dried by the sun. The coffee is then shifted onto the dry portion of the patio, and the section where it was previously is now allowed to dry in the sun. This helps accelerate the drying process and prevents fermentation and moldy beans from developing.
With a blend of modern machinery, skill, patience, and deft hands, coffee is prepared for the world market. The removal of the husks and parchments is done with machines specifically designed for this purpose, followed by separation into 5 or more grades by running the beans through sieves and screens with specifically sized holes. The traditional practice of manual sorting is accomplished with amazing speed and skill, as any flawed or discoloured beans are removed before bagging into sacks marked with grade, plantation, and country of origin. The coffee is then ready for its journey to distant cups.
From storage in great, covered warehouses where they have been neatly stacked, the bagged coffee beans are moved by conventional transportation to the docks. Stevedores experienced in the careful handling of coffee see that the bags are properly stowed aboard the ship. In the hold, the bags are layered in tiers separated by wooden battens or pallets to assure abundant air circulation throughout the voyage.
When the beans arrive at our facility, they are stored in a controlled environment until they are ready for use. All the bags are weighed, recorded and checked thoroughly before being stacked in our warehouse. Each container load is assigned a unique tracking number so that it can be tracked through the process for quality control and traceability purposes.
Cleaning / Silo Storage
The beans then go through a number of cleaning stations to ensure that they are clean and free of foreign material. Our high-speed silo systems store the beans until they are ready for manufacturing. The transfer systems are fully enclosed to prevent contamination and preserve product integrity.
From here, it moves on to our automated blending and weighing system, which accurately forms the blends within strict tolerances.
Once blended, they are transferred to our roasters, where highly trained experts merge the art of roasting with modern control technologies to consistently develop the full flavour potential of each coffee. Roasting equipment employs time-tested batch roasting principles, which are not efficient in terms of time relative to output, but excel in bringing out the full flavour potential of the coffee. This is mated with modern control technologies to ensure consistent flavour profiles from batch to batch. While purchasing the best quality raw material is of great importance, the way the product is roasted is equally important to bring out the uniqueness of each type of coffee.
Packaging & Warehousing
Using state-of-the-art packaging machines, the coffee is packed in the appropriate formats. All of our packaging is nitrogen flushed to ensure that the product is fresh when our customer decides to use it. Strict attention is paid to package seals to maintain the integrity of the coffee. It is this high-end, consistent product that has allowed our business to grow mainly by word of mouth.
Once the coffee has been packaged, it is transferred to our storage warehouse, until it is ready for shipment or use.