HARVESTING // PROCESSING // COFFEE
FROM PLANT TO CUP
At Karst Organics we take pride in working closely with the farmers at origin. This allows us to work together to improve the harvest yields and processing of the coffee beans year on year, and ultimately provide green beans of the highest quality.
- COFFEE PLANTS
Coffee beans are in fact seeds. After being dried, roasted and ground they turn into our favourite hot beverage. In East Timor, coffee plants grow wild underneath the natural canopies of the surrounding shade trees and are enriched and ripened during the rains of the wet season.
The coffee harvest usually takes place between the months of May to September and takes patience and a well trained eye to select the ripest cherries. Once picked, these will undergo further sorting to ensure that only cherries of optimum ripeness make the grade.
Fully washed (wet-processed) is the most widely used processing method in East Timor. After being harvested the coffee cherries are then washed and floated to remove any underripe, overripe or those that have been damaged by insects. Any ‘bad’ cherries will float to the surface of the water and the ‘good’ ones will sink to the bottom. The cherries are then pulped by being passed through a cog-like rolling machine which pulls the skin and most of the flesh off the bean. The beans are now left with a small layer of mucilage and then fermented during which this mucilage is broken down. After a period of between 24-48 hours, the beans are then washed and further floated before being laid out to dry under the sun.
Fully washed coffee usually results in a cleaner, brighter and fruiter flavour profile.
Other methods which can also be used to process coffee are:
- Pulped natural or Honey processed coffee is where the coffee cherries are pulped, as with fully washed coffee, but rather than being fermented and washed to remove all the mucilage, the pulped beans are immediately laid out to be dried under the sun. Depending on the amount of mucilage which is left on the coffee bean prior to drying, the process is referred to as black, red, yellow, white or gold processing. The mucilage ferments and infuses the bean, thereby adding more sweetness.
- Natural processed coffee (dry-processed coffee) requires the harvested coffee cherries to be laid out to dry with the fruit and skin still intact and the coffee bean inside, which allows them to dry together. The coffee bean is then separated from the cherry at the end of the drying process. This method takes a much longer time and is extremely labour-intensive, however, it allows the coffee beans to take on fruitier flavour notes infused from the cherry itself.
The beans must then be dried to approximately 12% moisture to properly prepare them for storage. Only the best quality beans are laid out underneath the warmth of the East Timorese sunshine on raised African beds where they are turned regularly to ensure even drying. Throughout this whole process they are continuously sorted for any further defects. At this stage, the beans are known as parchment.
The parchment is then stored and allowed to ‘rest’ for a further 30 days, following which, it is then taken to the mill to remove the outer husk where it will then become the green beans that we know and love. After being passed through a grading machine, undergoing further hand-sorting and carefully packaged in Ecotact and jute bags, they are then ready for shipment.
This process is incredibly important and those involved don’t always get the recognition that they should.
The green beans are delivered to roasteries where master roasters work their magic to bring out the optimal flavour profile of each individual lot.
THE BEST FLAVOUR
Every step of the process contributes towards the final flavour of the coffee and we are proud to say that we are actively involved in every stage of our green beans’ journey, ensuring delicious coffee for all you coffee lovers and sustainable incomes for our partner farmers.