Quality coffees must be picked by hand, a process that takes from three to four visits per tree each year. This is because coffee cherries do not ripen at the same time. A branch of a tree might simultaneously bear blossoms, green fruit, and ripe cherries. A good picker can pick about 200 pounds of coffee cherries in one day. This equals about 50 pounds of green coffee beans or 39 pounds of roasted coffee. Once the coffee cherries have been picked, the beans must be removed from them.
Three methods may be used in the extraction process:
The Wet Method or Washed Coffee:
This is used in regions where there is a plentiful supply of fresh water. A machine first strips away the outer layers of skin and fruity pulp. The beans, still enclosed in a sticky inner pulp and parchment wrapper, are soaked for 24 to 72 hours in fermentation tanks. This loosens the remaining pulp through a series of enzymatic reactions, which is then washed away. Time in the fermentation tanks is critical as too much or too little time will harm the beans. These coffees will generally have a higher acidity and cleaner flavors than their dry cousins.
The Dry or Natural Method:
The cherries are allowed to dry on the tree or are laid out to dry in the sun for three to four weeks. When the pulp has dried, a hulling machine strips away the outer skin and pulp. Although the beans are not always consistent in quality, the acidity of the beans is reduced and the body and earthy flavor is increased. Producing high quality coffee with the dry method is challenging because the beans are exposed to climatic conditions during the drying process. Some of the dry method coffees are Sumatra, Ethiopia Harrar, and Yemen.
In Sulawesi, the coffee cherries are shed and sorted as in the washed method, but are not placed in fermentation tanks. Instead they are set out to dry. Sulawesi coffees are a bit more cleaner and smoother than their Sumatra cousins.
After the wet or dry process, a mill removes any remaining parchment and the silverskin – a thin covering that clings to the bean.
Difference between Sun-dried and Water processed coffee:
The terms “Sun-dried” and “Water-processed” refer to the method used to process the coffee bean prior to roasting.
We used two Sun-dried methods: In the “Traditional Sun-dried process”, the “coffee cherry” is laid directly in the sun, causing some of the fruit sugars to dry on the bean. In the “Special Sun-dried-Process:, we mechanically split the beans from the cherry, and then they are laid on screen frames above the ground to dry with still the fruit juices on.
In the “Water Processed” method, the beans are also mechanically split from the cherry, but afterwards are put in water to remove all of the fruit juices; finally, the washed beans are also laid in the sun to dry.
The result is that the “Traditional Sun-dried” beans have a more robust/acidic flavor than the “Water-processed” ones, which tend to be slightly mellower even though beans from both processing methods may have the same level of roasting. The “Special Sun-dried” process achieves a balance of smoothness and robustness in combination with low acidity.
Each year Professional Tasters have ranked the coffee as Gourmet!