Coffee Processing Methods in Colombia.
The quality of specialty coffee you are purchasing from Progeny goes through several different processes depending on what it requires to bring out the best flavor. All of our coffee is grown and sourced with care, and taste-tested before it is exported.
Let's first start with where Colombian specialty coffee is grown, as this plays a vital role in its quality. Specialty coffee is grown at a higher elevation to produce a desirably denser bean with more complex flavor. Higher elevation, means less oxygen and cooler temperatures so the coffee plants grow slower. The plant then focuses more energy on bean production which in turn produces more sugars resulting in a flavorful cup of coffee. We will go in more detail on growing specialty coffee on a separate post.
Another variable that plays a role in coffee quality and flavor is the way it is processed. Two common methods our coffee is processed are wet-processed (also called washed ) or dry-processed (also called natural). The type of processing is chosen to produce different cup qualities and sometimes it is just a matter of logistics.
Washed coffees are de-pulped soon after picking and placed in tanks to ferment for a period of time. The coffee beans then pass down through water channels where they then are separated by weight. The lighter beans float to the top of the channels, while the heavier ripe beans sink to the floor bottom. After separation they’ll go through another washing stage where we remove the remaining pulp, the bean is then placed on raised patio beds inside a parabolic dryer or in a mechanical dryer depending on logistics. Next, we remove the remaining dry skin off of the bean called parchment and now the bean is ready to be sorted for quality.
Dry -processing is the traditional way of processing coffee and is heavily used in areas where water resources are limited. It involves laying out the cherries on huge surfaces or patios after picking. In order for the cherries to dry evenly, they are raked and turned throughout the day. This process may take up to several weeks depending on the weather. Once the cherry is completely dried we are able to remove the skin, pulp, and parchment later in one fell swoop. Dry processed coffees are more yellowish than washed green coffees because there's more chaff attached to the bean. Naturally processed coffees have a very distinct fruit smell before and after they are roasted.
Each step in the chain is crucial and the Milling process is no exception. The first step to the milling process is the hulling process. This is where the parchment layer from the wet-processed coffee gets removed. Naturally processed coffee goes through the same process but with natural coffee, we will remove the entire dried husk (the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp) off of the dried cherry.
The grading and sorting of the beans is one of the final steps before the coffee is packaged for export. The sorting is done by size, weight and is also reviewed for any color flaws or other imperfections. Beans are sized by being passed through a series of screens and also sorted by weight using a density sorter. Finally, the beans that don’t meet our specialty standards are then removed by hand or machinery ensuring only the finest quality coffee beans are exported for your drinking pleasure.
We take pride in the labor of love our farmers put into cultivating their coffee. We make sure that each process whether it be wet or natural highlights the region the bean was harvested from. WITH LOVE FROM SEED TO CUP.