Sorting, sorting, sorting
...should have been my answer to all those who have asked me in the last few weeks - André, what have you been doing all day on the farm in Colombia?...
I would never have thought that this part of the process could be so extremely important to the outcome in growing specialty coffee. But when I was allowed to help sort it myself and saw the results, I knew why. To get the best quality coffee and before you can even think about roasting, everything possible has to be sorted out of the original crop.
Sorting begins at the plant, picking only the perfectly ripe coffee cherries, through the washing process, where the so-called "floaters" (hollow coffee beans, plant debris, etc.) are removed, to the dry processing, where defects such as colors, deformations, insect bites are sorted out during and after the drying of the beans, and finally sorted by size. It is now easy to imagine the impact that poor sorting can have on roasting and flavor.
Smaller coffee farms usually have to do these detailed processes by hand. A machine that could do this work would, first, not be as accurate, second, not be affordable for a small coffee farm, and third, replace workers, which in most cases would be out of the question.
On Juan Pablo's farm, for example, the whole family works. Besides the hard work, it's also fun to be there - to make the small-scale manual labor easier, they chat with each other, make jokes or listen to music.
In addition to regional conditions such as the climate and the natural composition of the soil on which the coffee plants grow, the processing procedures on a coffee farm not only play an important role in the quality of the individual coffee beans, but are also key to the production of specialty coffee in the process chain of coffee cultivation.
However, the sorting of the beans is also one of the most complex processes in the cultivation of coffee, requires a lot of time, attention and intuition and cannot simply be replaced by the use of machines on small farms.It makes a very important contribution to a uniform roasting and clear flavor notes.
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