Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Brazil 2004 Cerrado Coffee Competition, Coffee Tour

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Anyway, here is myself, Sergio and the effusive soul, Bruno, at the Fazenda Agua Limpia mill.
Just an arrangement I liked at the Fazenda Agua Limpia mill; homemade brooms
A stack of Cafe do Brasil bags waiting to be filled at the Fazenda Agua Limpia mill.
They have a quality control lab at the mill - they use a Pinhalense 4 kilo gas roaster ... a machine I have seen before at other farms but not a personal favorite of mine. (Other Pinhalense models are better).
Okay, now we go our to the drying patios at Fazenda Agua Limpia. Here we have the strip-picked cherry waiting to go into the sorting process that removes green underripe fruit. Nomatter what stage the cherry is in, coffee off the tree needs to be processed as soon as possible - otherwise, unwanted fermentation will occur. You want to get the coffee out to dry, to stop fermentation.
The red ripe cherry is removed from the outer skin using either a pulper or a demucilager. This leaves the coffee seed inside its protective parchment layer, covered with either no mucilage (the pulpy fruit layer between the outer skin of the fruit and the parchment seed covering) or quite a bit of mucilage. To get the later result, you use the pulper or use a mucilager with the water turned way down to avoid striping off the mucilage.
The parchment coffee is first bayed on the patio in these ribbed piles, and a worker uses a rake (in this case, on wheels) to change the orientation of the "ribs" in relation to the sun. Now, this is about the same as you would see in wet-processing, as in Central America. The difference is that wet-processed parchment has sat in a fermentation tank for 12-30 hours, breaking down the mucilage. Then the weakened mucilage is washed off completely and the coffee is put to the patio, just as you see here.
Ever ebullient, Bruno must show me how the coffee piles must align with the sun so both sides are equally warm. Bruno lives in Portland now but is 101% Brazilian, and has spent all his life as a coffee farmer. His 80+ year old father still runs the family farm in Cerrado.
And here is a close-up of the parchment coffee on the patio. There are still a few pieces of the outer skin in there but those can be easily removed when the coffee is dry-milled. You can see one in the center where the parchment is a bit cracked and the green bean as we know it is inside.
You have seen the pulped/demucilaged coffee - now here is what the natural dry-processed coffee looks like on the patio. As you can see it still has sticks and leaves in with it from the strip picking. These are easily removed before the coffee is hulled out of the dried skin/parchment in one final step.
Another detail view of the natural coffee on the patio, sticks and all. The Brazil picking method is actually to lay down plastic sheeting under the trees you re working on, and pull off cherry rather vigorously simply dropping everything onto the sheets. Then you gather it all up, and use a screen to toss the leaves, sticks, coffee and probably dirtclods in the air to remove the lighter components. There is a green cherry in the photo - not good. The yellow ones might be Yellow Bourbon or Yellow Catuai.
The dry processed cherry is heavy, so it is hard to use simple rakes to turn it ... and coffee must all be turned on the patio so it dries evenly. Here they use a special gas-powered cart to turn the coffee, with wide tires that don't crush the coffee under them.
A final view of the picturesque patios loaded with dry-process cherry. Some more Cerrado facts - Cerrado is a Savanna like plateau with coffee growing from 900 - 1200 meters. The varietals used are Bourbon (red and yellow), Acaia, Mundo Novo, Catuai (red and yellow), Tupi, Yellow Icatu, Rubi, and Topazio. Most of the coffee is mechanically picked. They must fertilize this soil but they also uses a lot of natural controls and fertilizers including parts of the coffee plant itself, mowing instead of weed removal, etc.
Here is where the cherry is washed and the underripe green cherries separated. Workers wait for the bins to fill. Then they are spread on the patios until the inner green seed reaches 11% moisture content.
A detail photo of the strip-picked coffee before it is separated ... a much higher percentage of underripe here, and a mix of dried cherry (brown to black) and ripe red cherry.
There's a lot more to the farm. Here are some stands of banana planted for the workers. Most live off the farm, and there are buses that transport them from the farm and their houses.
An attractive alternative to patio drying is the raised bed drying process, also called "African beds' since this idea has been used in Ethiopia for the dry-processed coffees for a long time. In Cerrado they call it wind dry. Patios accumulate heat from the sun but the raised beds don't; rather, they allow dry air to circulate all around the coffee and the result is even, thorough drying without having to rake the coffee.
The main problem with raised beds is getting the coffee on and off of them. But many farms have a percentage of coffee going to the beds, and the uniform drying does have a benefit for cup quality. This is another way that Cerrado is now focusing their technology and innovation toward quality improvements, specifically, toward increasing cup quality. The focus was on volume for so long, and that has proven to be a losing proposition for farmers.
Okay ... you probably know what this is. It's a Cicada. In Brazil they call it a Cigaro, if I understood them correctly. But in Brazil they do not sound like an electric buzz, like a transformer that has seen better days. They have a whistle-like high tone, very unusual. Furthermore, this puppy in my hand is dead, but it looks so much like a living one I found by the same tree that I didn't know for 5 minutes it had expired. But that's not the oddest thing...
Cerrado is dry. It means "dry land". So I was a little surprised when I passed this row of trees and felt a fine mist of water from above. Being from the city, this always makes one very suspicious. I thought there were some sort of "misters" in the trees... but why? Well, I was right, but the "misters" were Cicadas and that was basically Cicada piss. Oh boy, what a surprise! And it has to be quite a lot or it would evaporate before hitting the ground. It's that dry here. But see the puddles. It takes a LOT of Cicadas to make puddles...

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