Picked coffee cherries are processed to remove the skin of the cherry to reveal the bean. Two processes can be used: the “washed” or wet process or the “natural” or dry process.
In the wet process, the cherry flesh or skin is forcibly removed from the seeds by a mechanical pulping machine, usually within 6 hours after picking. The seeds / beans are then placed in large fermentation tanks, wherein a 12 – 36 hour “bath” loosens the slippery mucilage from the parchment on the seeds. Fermentation is an exacting science and is critical to developing the acidity and flavours of the coffee.
The parchment layer remains attached as the beans (now called “parchment coffee”) are left to dry for twelve to fifteen days in big, open, sunny areas on drying tables where they are turned or raked several times a day to ensure even drying. During this time beans with defects are removed.
The dry process simply entails allowing the coffee cherries to dry in the sun for up to four weeks and then hulling the dry husks to reveal the beans.
Once dried, the parchment coffee is transported to a dry mill where the parchment shells of the beans are removed in a hulling machine.
The beans are then sorted by size and density. Sorting helps to group similar quality beans and also remove defective beans. Sorting is done by hand (coffee sorting ladies) several times and also by various machines which sort by size, weight, and density. This is used to “grade” the green beans for sale.
The green beans are then bagged in 60kg jute or sisal bags with GrainPro liners.