This process begins at the farm by always selecting optimal ripe cherries. These are then immediately depulped and placed in fermentation tanks. Depending on temperature conditions (hot-cold), the coffee is ready to be washed approximately between 24 -36 hours after picking.
After being washed (removal of mucilage), and classified, the coffee is transported without contamination to the dry mill where each lot is then spread out at about 3 inch thick layer, moving the coffee about four times a day. We emphasize slow-drying, and drying of a Washed process usually takes 10-12 days (depending on the weather).
Pulped Natural (Honey)
The coffee cherry is held in water during the night after it is picked. The following morning the cherry is depulped with the least amount of water (preferably NO water) at the wet mill. Once the depulping is complete, we send the coffee beans with 100% of its mucilage to the dry mill, Don Esteban.
At Don Esteban we dry on plastic tarps for the first two days in order to dry the mucilage before we move it onto African beds. Here the parchment is moved often (3 – 4 times/day). Where we then finish drying in 50% shade for the following 12 to 15 days until the humidity comes down to 12%. Total drying time is approximately 14 to 16 days.
After the parchment is dried we make sure the coffee rests for at least 30 days before we start milling it for export
The natural process begins at the farm by only selecting optimally blood red, ripe cherries. These are then carefully transported to the dry mill where they are then spread as a thin layer. These cherries are carefully moved within their assigned space approximately 3 times a day. We always make sure we do not damage the cherry while they are moved. This process can take anywhere between 20 – 30 days, depending on the weather conditions, until it reaches a humidity range of 12% or below.
All lots are then placed in a cool, well ventilated, warehouse for it to rest for 30 days. After the resting period we proceeded to hull the lot and then let it rest in "oro" (green) for an additional 30 days before it's shipped.
The Perla Negra (Black Pearl) is a very difficult drying process in which we take a Pulped Natural (Honey) processed coffee to the verge of fermentation, and the beginning of mold penicillium; similar to that of a blue cheese.
Nothing is added to the coffee, it is all natural but it is aged before the pre-drying process in a temperature controlled environment. We lay out the coffee as a thin layer on a plastic tarp inside our warehouse. We then cover it with another plastic tarp and we let the coffee rest for 96 hours. Within 48 hours the coffee is starting to show a thin milky white skin. On the sixth day, the coffee still has the milky aspect and is now giving off a sweet smell. After 96 hours, we take it out to the drying bed where it is dried slowly in order to keep its embryo alive and allow a longer shelf life. The total drying time takes around 16 days.
A general characteristic of the Perla Negra cup profile is a lactic acid taste, condensed milk, dark chocolate, and dark fruits flavors.
The Funky is a process of allowing a certain degree of controlled fermentation. The name, coined by our good friend from the UK, Stephen Leighton, comes from the strange yet exotic cup profile produced by this method. The varietal might change, but the process is always the same.
We pick the cherries at their optimal ripeness and we then immediately transport the intact cherry to the dry mill. At the dry mill, we lay out the cherries as a thick layer on a plastic tarp. We also do not move the coffee as often (usually we move the coffee 3 to 4 times a day). A thicker layer and not moving the coffee as often will allow the initiation of some degree of fermentation. Sometimes we spray some water on the cherries to help boost the fermentation process.
We maintain the coffee covered on the patio between 24 to 36 hours, always monitoring that the cherries do not ferment completely. One way we monitor it is to taste the cherry/mucilage. We aim to never let it taste like vinegar, which will mean over fermentation. Following the controlled fermentation stage, the coffee is spread out as a thin layer and is moved more often. It will sundry on the patio for 8 days, and then an additional 20-30 days on the African beds until it reaches 12% humidity.
The coffee is then moved into our well ventilated warehouse and allowed to rest for 30 days before it is milled. After milling, the coffee is allowed to rest for an additional 30 days before exportation.