Posted by: Andre | November 4, 2009

Initial Processing Thoughts

My first initial research into processing methods have yielded some exciting results. First let me explain the current process for drying coffee in PNG that is in use by my friend and his community. This process is generally taught to the farmers by the government.

  1. First the cherries are picked by hand ripe as best as can be. This is a main area of focus for quality improvement, and education to the farmers here is key. Many will pick for yield rather than quality and this is actively being changed by education.
  2. Cherries are then hulled in a hand pulping machine, or occasionally a small generator driven machine.
  3. The seeds with mucilage are then placed into some type of container, often a hollowed out log and filled with a relatively small amount of water.
  4. After a short fermentation time (guideline being when the beans feel like “sand” when grasped in a handful) they are then spread out on woven mats to dry completely in their parchment.
  5. They are then bagged in 60kg sacks, and picked up to be sold. If sold internationally, they will be sent to a city and processed down to green bean by having the parchment removed.

This process is basically a modified wet process that allows for each farmer to do the processing themselves. The first idea is to first experiment with different processing methods in one test farm (natural, pulp natural, wet-hulled, wet). Once an ideal method is selected for cultivar and climate type, the idea will be to build a community mill where quality can be generally controlled in one or two locations. Personally I’m hoping that either natural or pulp natural processing will work out very well for us, as these are some of my favorite types of coffees currently. Still the processing must be suited to the climate.

At the mill itself, whatever the processing method, common quality control can still be planned. First African raised drying beds will be used and cherries or seeds may need to be spread very thin and turned often to ensure quick drying after picking. Hand sorting while drying, and after milling can be done, in addition density sorting may be added in later as equipment becomes available.


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