The pickers were here today. They worked a full day, but there weren’t many bags at the end. They go through the effort of checking all the trees, but there just isn’t a lot of red cherry to pick. There was more than the last picking, but not much. I suspect the berries are lighter and there are more floater fruit, whose seeds (coffee seeds are what we eventually roast) don’t even continue along the processing steps.
Whether there’s a lot or a little, we still have to process the coffee fruit. People suggest we sell avocados or bananas or some other crop. The problem with those crops is that they’re perishable. You need to have buyers or the ability to further process it. For example, you could process avocados into a higher priced product like guacamole, but that can’t keep for a year or more without refrigeration like green coffee can.
As a reminder, our website describes (1) wet milling and (2) dry milling. Recently there was an article in Perfect Daily Grind about micro milling, small-scale milling for one grower or a little co-op of growers. The wet mill we use is a bit larger than what’s depicted, but we also employ a little repass pulper that’s the size of what’s described in the article. The owner of the wet mill processes for a few small farms. And luckily, he’s able to service and repair the mill.
Here’s a little repeat from last year’s writeup: We use an Estrada wet mill from Colombia to wet mill the coffee the same day it’s picked. Water and machinery free the seeds from the skins and fruit. The seeds (coffee) sit in a fermentation tank overnight, then the next morning they’re raked out to dry on a covered deck before being mechanically finish-dried later that day or the next day. The end result is parchment. The parchment is put in burlap bags and the scant moisture is allowed to even out for weeks/months before it eventually gets dry milled into green (unroasted) beans.
The photo gallery is from last year. The storyline is the same, except the truck bed full of burlap coffee bags doesn’t apply this year. There are only a few bags.
The University extension, CTAHR, recently wrote:
“Communication with growers indicate a higher (than normal) amount of floater (under-developed bean/seed) parchment in the recent harvest(s). This is likely due to the dry weather we received this winter/early spring when young berries were developing.”
I’ve shared this link before, but I think it’s good to refer to it when the topic of processing comes up: coffee processing styles and terminology. According to the terminology used in the article, our coffee is triple washed since we float the cherry prior to pulping and also soak (short ferment) after pulping.