The wonderful world of coffee
We will begin by explaining every detail on the way from the coffee tree to our cup and the process to which the grain is subjected will give a very different flavor to the drink; We do not need to be experts in flavors to choose the one we like the most, although over time we can better develop our senses to detect the finest flavors.
The first process is the selection of the best coffee seed for cultivation and making the coffee seedbed, to later select the best plants that sprout coffee. When you have the coffee seed, it is sown in previously disinfected sand sprouts and at approximately 37 days the sprouting of the chapola, the green leaf, begins.
Approximately 55 days after sowing the coffee seed, the seedlings are transplanted into the nursery. This process is carried out by transplanting the small coffee seedlings in bags with fertilized soil. After 6 to 8 months of sowing the chapola in the almacigo.
Photo: Coffee seed Geisha, Samaniego (Nariño)
COFFEE PLANTING IN THE FIELD
When planting coffee the land should be prepared, taking into account the distance between each coffee bush. For this it is necessary to take into account certain variables, for example, the variety of coffee that is going to be planted, since there are trees of high growth or others of low and leafy growth, since between 3,000 and 4,500 plants per hectare are managed. After planting the coffee, and under adequate nutrition management (synthetic, organic or mixed), the plants take approximately 18 months to produce their first coffee beans. Its maximum production capacity is around 3 years after planting. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Photo: Coffee farm Corregimiento Santa Rosa, Belén (Nariño).
In this stage only the coffee beans that reach the optimum state of maturity (depending on the variety) are harvested manually, generally recognized by their red and yellow color, in the case of the Colombia and Caturra varieties. It is important to remember that green coffee beans can never be harvested because they will affect the quality of the coffee, generating an astringent taste when drinking a cup of coffee. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Photo: Vereda el Paramo, resguardo Inga de Aponte (Nariño).
Coffee processing refers to the way in which we obtain the coffee bean or ripe coffee for its subsequent roasting.
Estos procesos son tres, principalmente: lavado, honey y natural.
In this process, the ripe berries are separated from the pulp or husk of the grains contained inside the cherry. This process is known as pulping and is done with a machine that squeezes the cherries between fixed and movable plates, with the husk on one side and the beans or seeds on the other. The vast majority of small coffee growers use the traditional drum pulper process.
The beans, now without the husk that covers them, are covered with a viscous substance that is known as mucilage or coffee honey. After this the coffee beans are put to ferment in different objects such as: cement tanks, plastic jars, and other handmade objects; this fermentation process takes from 12 to 24 hours to remove the mucilage in its totality. This time can also be much longer and depends on the quality of the coffee that is desired or that other enzymes or bacteria are used to improve or highlight its flavors or attributes. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Next, the coffee is washed with water to remove the mucilage from the beans. In this process a large amount of water is used and for its protection the coffee growers are taught that only one or a maximum of two rinses should be given. At this stage the parchment coffee has approximately 57% humidity.
In order for the coffee to reach a humidity level of between 9.5% and 12%, it is dried in the sun, either in tarpaulins on cement bases directly exposed to the sun in layers of between 2 and 8 cm, or frequently turned over to achieve uniform drying, as occurs in the majority of our coffee growers, in solar drying tunnels, or in beds of movable wood.
The drying of the coffee in the sun can last from 5 to 10 days approximately, depending on the climatic factor.
There are also industrial dryers such as silos.
The flavors that remain in a coffee with a washed process are lighter bodies, cleaner cups, fruitier and floral flavors and brighter or more intense acidity.
This process takes the name of honey not because it is made with honey or uses this ingredient at some point, but because of the caramelized texture that remains in the coffee beans.
This way of processing honey coffee is very similar to washing with the difference that the mucilage, the membrane that covers the coffee bean, is not removed, but rather dries with this substance covering the beans.
Depending on the region and the customs used to dry the cherry, but especially the time, it will take another name honey yellow, red or black. The major difference is in the flavor, which develops in the drying times and techniques.
Honey Coffee -Laureano Hanamejoy, Cabildo Inga de Aponte-Nariño
The yellow honey is left to dry for approximately 8 days in the sunlight, which gives the parchment a light yellow tone.
El honey rojo tarda un poco más tiempo al secar, ya que se hace en la sombra. No recibe rayos de sol directo; esto hace que el color del pergamino no se degrade por la luz y tome un tono rojizo.
Finally, the black honey takes more moisture to dry, so it is covered with black plastic to do so. Its color is not completely black, it is just a little darker than the red honey.
Of the three, the most complex, full-bodied, full-flavored honey red is the most complex.
Honeys coffees have a unique taste, characterized by a different sweetness, many fruity flavors and sweet acidity.
This process is also called dry and its use has been for many years a symbol of African coffee. This is due to the scarcity of fresh water that the continent suffers, which is why methods had to be devised to process coffee without using so much liquid. This method does not use machines, which requires more manual labor and consequently its cost can be higher.
To carry out this process, the first step is to choose the whole ripe cherries without removing the skin, after having collected them, where the ripe cherries are classified and those damaged or affected by insects are discarded. Here the cherries are put to dry on beds and spread out.
This process can take up to 20 days and requires expertise; if drying is not complete and moisture remains, the grain is very susceptible to fungus or disease. On the other hand, if drying is excessive, the grain becomes brittle and when it is broken, it is considered defective. Care must also be taken to turn it, since the whole grain must be consistent in its drying.
This can be done by hand or in a washing trough, where defective or green cherries float because of their low density and ripe cherries go to the bottom of the trough because of their high density. The cherry is then spread out in drying yards, usually on African beds.
The drying process usually takes 20 days, but can be longer.
The flavors of these coffees undoubtedly present a heavy body, low acidity and flavors that remain from the soil in which they were planted.