Crop to Cup – Part 3

photo (4)

Continued from Crop to Cup Part 1 and Part 2

If you have been reading this series of posts to date, you will know that for my wet processed micro lot I am following the steps listed below:

  1. Pulping
  2. Fermentation
  3. Drying
  4. Parchment removal (hulling)
  5. Roasting

The first two stages were outlined in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, along with the initial phase of stage 3, in which today we learn that patience is indeed a virtue.

3. Drying continued

Every day I walk past my drying rack, checking (and turning) the beans, as the remaining moisture is drawn out, courtesy of the great weather we have been having of late in South East QLD. No rain to speak of (though many gardens need it), and fairly low humidity (compared to usual levels) have made for what I would consider perfect ‘bean drying’ weather. Although the beans have been undercover and would not be directly affected by rain, the increased humidity and overall moisture in the air would likely have required a longer period of drying.

The ideal drying time?

For further information here we again refer to our two main sources:

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)

Whichever method of drying you use, the parchment on the coffee bean will dry to a pale straw colour and be brittle to touch. At this stage, test the dryness of the beans by removing the parchment by hand off several coffee beans. If dry, the bean inside should be greyish blue in colour, hard, and likely to break when bitten between the teeth, if not soft and chewy. If soft, continue the drying process.

The ‘methods’ of drying referred to above include the natural sun drying method I am following, or alternatively, a food dehydrator, which must be kept at 40 degrees celsius over the course of several days to complete the drying. Whilst a dehydrator may be a more rapid method of drying, some of the romance is lost, if I imagine hundreds of square metres of beans drying in the sun on a Colombian hillside. Though the strength of this argument wanes a little when my entire crop fits into my palms cupped together.

Anyway, for the current crop, sun drying it shall be.

My Mother

I usually leave it at least two weeks to dry out. Sometimes you might get away with 10 days or so, but two weeks just to be safe. Your best guide is to crack off the parchment layer with your thumbnail, and if you get a good split or cracking noise you can be fairly sure it is dry enough. Once I have removed this layer and simply have the green bean, a couple of days more drying will really finish them off.

We agreed that my planned two further weeks (making four in total) drying time would not be to the detriment of the end result (that is, be too long). The four week time frame is due to a holiday occurring in the middle of this process , rather than specifically planning a drying time of this length. I do note however this does coincide with the upper end of the 5–30 day recommendations of the DAFF.

Drying – Two Weeks In
As noted above, after two weeks I am now half way through my planned drying time and testing a couple of the beans would appear to show that everything is on track. You will see in the picture below that that the outer parchment is quite dry (it also comes away from the inner bean with a nice crack when pressure from my thumb is applied).

photo (5)

Referring to the DAFF instructions above, the bean is blue/grey in colour and feels reasonably hard, though I did not see the need to give it the ‘bite test’. In another two weeks I would expect the beans will be well and truly dry and begging to be roasted, at which time I will provide an update with another post.

In the mean time, have a look at my magazine Brew – Ways of Coffee on Flipboard for some great articles I have collected from around the web.

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