Once our coffee has been carefully harvested, another important part of the coffee processing begins: post-harvest activities and quality control.
Once the cherries arrive at the mill, it’s time to process them accordingly to the final product we want to obtain.
This means, at the mill we decide how we are going to process the coffee, considering: the volume we have, the available space at the mill, and/or the varietal we are working with and the final coffee profile our client is asking for. Even the new trends in the market need to be considered. As you can see, many factors need to be taken into account.
Washed Process: All of our washed coffee goes through a series of steps to remove the pulp and mucilage in our PINHALENSE Ecological mill. Here, the coffee cherries are classified by density and ripeness level. This first step is followed by the de-pulping machine and, finally, the mucilage is removed mechanically. By doing so, we are saving thousands of litres of water per year. Then, we start the drying process.
Natura Process: Our naturals are classified by density and then sent directly to the patio or the Static dryer. This means none of the layers of skin or fruit that cover the coffee seeds are removed.
Dynamic fermentation system: Our fermented coffees are processed in a dynamic tank that has been designed at Cuatro Caminos Coffee Estates. This system allows us to create a homogenous atmosphere where all the coffee cherries are evenly going through a fermentation process. As a result, we have achieved complex coffee profiles without overwhelming the inherent coffee profile.
Check out our Café con Andrés to learn more about our drying process (click here)
At Cuatro Caminos, we manage different ways to dry the coffee: Dynamic drier, which is mainly used for or washed coffees. Static drier, which is used mainly for naturals and Patio, where we pre-dry our coffee before sending them to the dynamic drier. We also use our patio to dry some micro-lots.
Regardless of the selected drying method, we look for homogeneous drying processes that allow us to reach 10.5% – 11.5% of moisture content in our green beans. Constant monitoring, using our moisture content specialized equipment done by our staff is mandatory during this stage.
Once the coffee reaches the correct moisture content, we store it in our cutting edge warehouse that was intentionally designed and built to preserve the coffee quality throughout the year.
Once we receive a green coffee sales order, we start the milling process, which basically removes the parchment (in washed coffees) or pulp (in fermented or natural coffees) to obtain green beans. After milling, the green coffee is graded and classified for export.
The first classification method for green beans is done by a Bean Sizing Sieves machinery.
After going through a first classification method, where beans are classified by size, our next step is to classify our beans by density implementing our Pihnalense Densimetric table. This is a vibrating table that shakes coffee beans into groups of varying densities. Therefore, denser beans shake to the top portion and lighter beans shake to the bottom right of the table. Thanks to these classification methods, we can offer to our clients a high quality -homogeneous green bean.
Each of our batches goes through a quality control protocol, where the physical and organoleptic characteristics of each batch are assessed.
We start by analyzing the physical characteristics of the batch. This includes the moisture content, size, color, smell, etc. All these characteristics give us, not only information about the bean itself, but also the quality of the process and the agronomical activities on the farm.
Once the quality controls are done, the coffee is roasted to be analyzed in a cupping session following the Specialty Coffee Association cupping protocol.
Here, we rate the coffee, considering different parameters such as aroma, flavor, acidity, balance, among others.
This score and descriptors are vital to defining the future of the batch. It means, here we define not only the quality of the batch but also its potential use. Is it better to be used as an espresso blend? Does it have the necessary acidity to be a high-quality Geisha? Can the second grade coffees be sold as a blend? All these questions are answered during quality control.
Quality control is a protocol that is repeated regularly. This helps us to follow the evolution of the batches as well as determine the lifetime of the green beans.