Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coffee Pioneer. Tiered Raised Beds


I felt really cool writing that I was pioneering new coffee techniques in the DR on my resume. Like most pioneers I´m lured by stories of big money, cheap labor, and busty women. And like most pioneers I only go half the story. There is no template that works in all farms. There are no silver bullet techniques. I´ve been following pictures, advice and conversations from several different people. The blanks that show up when theory becomes reality, I fill in myself. Coffee needs an amazing amount of attention, work and love to even have the chance of producing a high quality product. Am I chasing gold dust or have I struck a solid vein?

Every morning I wake at 6AM. By 7AM I´ve donned my work clothes and made an aeropress of good coffee then walked the 15min to Antonio´s house. We pick coffee, wash coffee, dry coffee and spend the majority of the day sweating and grunting. The workers (as many as 20) clock at 4PM. At 5PM we are usually done depulping the coffee and starting to put the tools away and make the 35 to 45min hike back to town. By 630PM I usually have taken my cold shower and settled into small dinner. By 9PM Los Frios is quite except for a few roosters and I´m asleep. This is not a game. It is hard work. Today is Friday and Saturday will be the same work schedule. Sunday should could very well hold the same routine.

These tiered beds aren´t drying the coffee fast enough and my nose is telling me that notes of over ferment might show up in the cupping notes. It can be hard to relax. This picking was big and expensive and now looking at the chance of losing a few hundred pounds of my coffee to improper drying, well it doesn´t feel good. On top of all this the farmers default excuse, weather, doesn´t apply becuase it has been brilliant. I guess hard times are good for me. And to be honest a steep learning curve is better because there are fewer mistakes later. There is time to make adjustments for the next picking.

I´ve found coffee to be an unforgiving and relentless teacher of patience and resolve.

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