Saturday, December 13, 2008

Harvest Update


When I was on the farm from Aug. 15th - Oct. 9th, I was able to be there for the prepena and first pickings. The rest of the harvest has been picked and processed by Antonio.

The coffee harvest progresses like a bell curve: first a trickle (prepena is the cleaning of random ripe and over ripes), a couple small pickings, then a few large pickings then, then a couple smaller pickings and finally the repela (final cleaning pick to get all the stragglers, ideally this includes cleaning the ground of fallen cherries because they harbor the la broca). All of the good pickings are being processed pulp-natural (honey-ed) because the honey-ed coffee from last year cupped the best. [I personally feel that honey-ed or café miel is a better describer than pulp-natural for this processing style becasue the coffee looks like honey, smells like honey as it dries, and tastes like wild honey in the cup. See the picture above of Antonio sorting at pergamino]

It was probably 3+ weeks ago that Antonio called to ask about a problem on the farm. This was a good problem. During the biggest picking we ran out of space on the raised beds and there was still coffee to pick! Ripening coffee isn't patient. In a hurried phone conversation, I told him to pick the remaining coffee, de-pulp it, ferment it underwater for 72 hours, then fully wash it! [Huge thanks to Peter G. and friends from Counter Culture for telling me how to do this]

The 3 days of underwater fermentation should have allowed time for the pulp-natual coffee to be moved to the raised beds in town and make room for the washed coffee to initally dry on the farm.

Now it looks like we are approaching the repela. I should only have about 200lbs. of honey-ed coffee and about 50lbs. washed for this harvest. It is tiny, but it should represent the quality potential of Finca La Paz. Antonio is sorting the coffee at cherry and pergamino. And this is all before it hits the dry mill. I will have Bent, my exporter, run strict density and optical sorts to have some really clean coffee. When I calculate the final cost, per pound, of this harvest I will be sure to publish the number - no matter how depressing it is.