Coffee processing styles; cleaning your home brewing equipment

Our trees are showing more red again, having reddened in the three weeks since the last big picking. This week the crew will be out here again.

This article describes some of the other coffee processing styles and terminology that apply to actions done after picking. 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.

That’s a bit detailed for your average person who just enjoys a good cuppa. I’ll leave you with another link that’s more practical, cleaning your home brewing equipment. It talks about some of the urban myths about cleaning your brewing stuff.

When I was in college and always used a moka pot, I had a friend from Italy who insisted I not clean it. He said I’d destroy the mushrooms that develop in it and give the coffee its flavor. I think mushrooms must have been a translation artifact.

Side note paragraph: I have noticed just in the past year, Kona coffee with mushrooms. One example is this 100% Kona coffee from Malama Mushrooms. I’ve never tried it. There’s a good article about Hawaii and mushrooms in Hana Hou, the in-flight magazine from Hawaiian Airlines. I stumbled on that after watching the fascinating Fantastic Fungi documentary on Netflix. With all this rain, I was thinking maybe we have to also (intentionally) grow mushrooms.

Anyway, this same friend, fluent in both Italian and French, told me he saw a log in his backyard in New Jersey. When I was unimpressed and asked more questions, we eventually determined he thought a log was a loir (French word), from the English expression “sleep like a log” and the French expression “dormir comme un loir.” However, a log is not a loir. I guess a loir is a dormouse. I don’t even know what a dormouse is. But apparently there might have been one in a New Jersey backyard. Here in Hawaii we have mongooses. And our cat recently excitedly chased and cornered one. It’s her first mongoose encounter, to our knowledge.

[9/14 addendum: Several of you have asked the outcome. I didn’t let the cat continue the hunt. I tried to show the mongoose the door out of the courtyard, but instead it ran into a nearby 3-sided area (worse!) and it panicked and even jumped and ran sideways on the wall. I just left it to its own devices to escape/leave at its leisure, and no one has seen it again.]

Hang loose, mongoose.

Coffee and pigs — ready fo’ pick off

We had a nice, big coffee picking last week, with many pickers working over two days. 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.

In case you didn’t realize, we post a variety of photos about coffee and scenes from our farm on Instagram and Facebook. The bottom of each page of our website has a little camera icon (Instagram) & F icon (Facebook) which you can select if you want to follow us. Recently I’ve been sharing photos of the pigs on our land, which we’ve finally been seeing at night and around sunset.

It has been a real parade of pigs lately. One night it was like a movie. Pig noises woke me up, so I peered out the window. I saw a bright flashlight beam (my neighbor cousin’s) wildly moving about, then I heard and saw a spotlighted pig run down the coffee road next to our bedroom. Then I saw the beam quickly move back up the hill, dart about, then repeat. I heard and saw in the flashlight beam another pig run down the road. Then another. I got up and went to our lanai with our bright flashlight and shined it on the road and in the coffee land. Pigs trying to hide throughout the land.

There was a pause in the action, and I went back to bed. When I heard more pig noises, I went out again to look. There was a gang of eight pigs defiantly holding their ground on the coffee road. Then I saw two separate spotlights (my cousins) coming down the road. I heard something land nearby — my cousins had thrown something at them. Finally, the pig gang scattered.

Hubby slept through it all and had no idea. The next day I suggested we collect a bucket of rocks to keep on our lanai so we’d have something to scare them with. We also researched hunting rules and licenses, air guns, slingshots, rock chuckers, crossbows, bows and arrows, electric fences, etc. We personally don’t want to kill them, but they are destructive and a nuisance, and they are most definitely not welcome here. And there are too many!

The next day at sunset, we wanted to take pictures of the rain over the ocean. We immediately saw pigs! Within 15 minutes we saw about 14 pigs, in four different groupings, traversing and lingering on our land. The next evening, we went out looking for pigs, but we caught the sunset. It’s like life, you’re searching for A, then B shows up. Look for B, you see A. Moral: keep your eyes and ears open and be prepared for anything. OINK! Or rather … loud, sharp groinking bark!

Second Crop Available Now

Our online shop has coffee for sale again! Our first harvest was a little earlier than last year’s, but somehow the coffee got milled around the same time, close to Halloween.

We thank those of you who supported us in our first full year of coffee sales, helping us to sell out in August. Now we’re on to year two! We should have more coffee to sell this year. Your support and help could be the obvious — buying our coffee, reviewing our coffee — but also just helping us get the word out that we exist and sell coffee.

If you’re interested, we’re roasting peaberry on November 4. Contact us, if interested in ordering. Pricing is $45 (16 oz bag), $25 (8 oz bag), and $14 (4 oz pouch).  We’ll send you an invoice via PayPal. 

This journey has been quite a learning experience. Thank you!

Coffee Anatomy

We are oh-so-close to having roasted coffee to sell. The dry mill we and many others use is operating 24 hours, 7 days a week now. We should have coffee available this week, but I don’t feel comfortable changing our website from “out of stock” until I know we can fulfill orders.

A brief processing overview: We wash process (wet mill) our coffee the day red cherries are picked. And there are multiple pickings over four or five months. After wet milling we have parchment. Our first big picking’s parchment has been drying for a little over two months. Now we’re ready for dry milling that, the result of which will be green beans. Our coffee is stored in green bean form waiting for you to order roasted coffee.

It’ll be a short post this week. I’m just going to point you to the Perfect Daily Grind’s earlier published article, “The anatomy of the coffee cherry. ”

From Seed to Cup

This page from the National Coffee Association offers a concise 10-step overview of the journey a typical coffee seed makes, from coffee seed to seedling to what we drink. I’ve made a few notes below, details regarding Bea’s Knees Farm coffee for each of NCA’s steps.

(1) Planting

Grandpa used to find his own young volunteer trees that sprouted from seedlings, and plant them as needed, e.g., when a mature tree died or was under-performing. The volunteers tended to be near rock walls, where beans/seeds would fall and not get picked up.

Several small coffee seedlings that sprouted from fallen coffee seeds/beans.

These are some volunteer coffee seedlings in my mom’s pot. Please follow the delicate stems from the right side of the photo. (1) This is a coffee seed starting to sprout. (2) This seedling can already be transplanted since it has its second set of leaves. The second set are its “real” leaves and looks like the commonly seen coffee leaves. (3) This seedling only has its first set of leaves.

Nowadays, for replacements we would not use these pulapulas (coffee seedlings pulled from the ground). We use young grafted Kona Typica trees from a nursery.  The root stock is semi-nematode resistant, and the tree will likely live longer than a non-grafted tree.  Coffee root-knot nematodes are another problem Grandpa didn’t have to deal with. 

(2) Harvesting the Cherries

We have several harvests and we selectively pick.  Last year we had 7 flowerings, 3 selective pickings from early September through mid-November, and one final strip pick by hand.  The strip pick is done to control coffee borer beetle, and wasn’t good quality and didn’t go into our estate coffee.

(3) Processing the Cherries

We use the wet method (also described as washed).  The parchment ferments overnight before drying.

(4) Drying the Beans

Our beans are sun-dried, then finish-dried in a dryer.  At this point, the beans have been dried from the outside of the bean, in.  By letting the coffee rest at the parchment stage, the moisture gets a chance to equalize throughout the bean.  The parchment rests in a light-, temperature- and humidity-controlled area. How long it rests is another one of those tweak-able variables.  Most of the moisture probably equalizes in a matter of days, but some people like it to rest a minimum of 60 days.

(5) Milling the Beans

(6) Exporting the Beans

According to the University of Hawaii CTAHR July 2014 article, The Economics of Coffee Production in Hawai’i, “Hawai‘i’s production of coffee makes up only 0.04% of total world production.” [emphasis mine]

(7)  Tasting the Coffee

We don’t do this.  This would be done as part of the certification process by the Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture.  Certification is required for green coffee shipped out of the area of production. 

(8) Roasting the Coffee

(9)  Grinding Coffee

My thoughts:

(10) Brewing Coffee

The following cold brew post is a bit wordy and detailed. Sorry.