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Finca Tamana, Part 4. Improving Processing

After 4 days at Finca Tamana, I had to leave early morning on Friday to catch a plane from Neiva to Bogota. It turned out Avianca had cancelled my ticket, since I did not use my ticket from Bogota to Neiva. I got a bit upset to say the least and threw a bunch of brochures on the Avianca workers desk after some loud arguing. That lead to 2 hours of interrogation at the airport police office. They were about to take me to the DA’s office, but many thanks to the the local FNC (Colombian Coffee Growers Federation) who pulled some strings, I got out of the airport at 9.30am. Lesson learned!
I had to hire a driver to drive me to Bogota, and because of traffic I barely made my plane to Paris, where I am now writing this blog post.
But enough about my non-coffee adventures in Colombia.

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During my stay at Finca Tamana, not only did we improve the cherry picking. We also started separating lots by sections on the farm and variety.

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We also worked and improved the processing a lot. One of the things I had found after cupping Elias’ coffee many times is that he tended to have rough, not clean and slightly over fermented coffees from time to time. I was therefore insisting that we made a better and more standardized framework for him to work with.

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We started with the basics. Cleaning. Elias cleans the wet mill every day and had invested in stainless steel plating for his cherry hopper in order to make it easier to clean. A great investment, but it doesn’t help when the de-pulper and fermentation tanks are filthy and absolutely disgusting. I put my fingers in the de pulper and scraped off a thick layer of a brown clay-like substance that smelled like manure. There was also a lot of stinker beans stuck in the fermentation tanks. When I showed Elias how dirty the equipment was, he was a bit embarrassed and promised to clean it properly every day from now on. I suggested to get a high pressure washer to clean all the tanks, equipment and the cherry hopper, but it will have to wait until next november as his finance capacity right now is low as he has made zero profit on his coffee for many years.

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Early monday morning we decided to de-pulp and process all the coffee that was picked in the evening after the last delivery. Elias has normally de-pulped coffee 3 times a day and mixed all the parchment in one fermentation tank for fermenting until the next day in order to remove the mucilage. I believe this has been one of the reasons for some cups being over fermented, as the coffee that is de-pulped in the morning has 12 hours more fermentation time than the coffee de-pulped in the evening.

At the end of the day I also measured the temperature of the cherries that was delivered in the morning. The temperature was between 24 – 28 degrees on the 4 days I measured. (last day there was almost 33 degrees in the air mid day.) This means there is little risk of fermentation happening inside the cherry as long as the pickers leave the coffee in the shade during picking.

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After de-pulping, I told them that it is important to make an even layer of coffee in the fermentation tank, so that you have a more even fermentation. It is also important that the tank is not too full as this will lead to uneven fermentation.

We de-pulped the coffee from 6-7pm and let the coffee dry-ferment until bedtime which is normally around 10pm. Before we went to bed we rinsed the coffee in the fermentation tank with clean water in order to make sure the fermentation is more even and does not happen too fast.

On Tuesday morning we checked the coffee and washed it at 9am, when it was ready. (Time will vary depending on temperature and the amount of coffee and mucilage.)

We washed the coffee, changing the water 4 times, until the coffee was clean. We also removed all the floaters and as much pulp as possible.

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After washing we let the coffee soak in clean water for 24 hours, changing the soaking water 2-3 times.

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On wednesday we took the coffee out to dry it in the sun. There was a huge difference in the appearance of the coffee already. The coffee processed the week before I came, looked dirty and uneven in colour.The coffee processed the new way looked super clean and had an even white colour. (See picture below: New process to the left, old technique to the right.) The new coffee smelled sweet and green like when you pick the coffee from the tree and taste the cherry. I am just dying to taste the results.

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I will write more about drying in the next post.

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