With the imminent start of the coffee harvest, the Asosiasaun Coffee Timor-Leste (ACTL) implemented a new coffee processing training program in order to further support the coffee farmers of Timor-Leste. This gave us a great opportunity to bring all the Karst Organics farmers together to take part in the training.
Over the course of two days, based at our central processing facility in Letefoho, all areas of coffee processing were covered to give the farmers the opportunity to run through the best practices in order to ensure that the coffee produced is of the highest quality.
With each step of the process being as important as the next, each step can and will contribute towards the final flavour of the coffee which ends up in your cup.
Starting at the beginning, focus was placed on the picking of the correct cherries to ensure that only the ripest, sweetest and plumpest cherries are harvested each day. Floating is a necessity in order to remove any under or over ripe cherries, as well as any beans which may have been eaten by insects.
Luckily, as our harvest in Letefoho is about to begin, there was an abundance of cherry available in order to carry out examples of each of the three different processing methods for coffee – natural, honey and fully washed.
We were also able to show the farmers that by using a refractometer, you can measure the sugar content of the cherries to determine when is the optimum time to harvest, and what colour cherry is the best one to pick.
Having all the farmers together also gave the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the concept of coffee cupping. Timorese people drink coffee as part of their every day life, however coffee is normally drunk with the addition of several spoons of sugar. By introducing the concept of cupping and having the farmers go through the process of smelling the aromas and then tasting the different coffees, the farmers were able to understand more clearly how different processing methods affect the development of flavour profiles. (From our small cupping practice we found that the majority of our farmers preferred the taste of a natural processed coffee, much like myself!)
The training was very informative and a great opportunity for all our farmers to experience the full coffee experience.
Now we just have to wait for a few weeks to allow the beans to dry, after which we can roast and cup them together with our farmers so that they too can see how the flavour profiles differ for each processing method.