Crop to Cup – Part 4

The fourth instalment in this Crop to Cup series looks at the final steps of processing, followed by the roasting of our “microlot” of coffee, kindly received straight off the tree from a barista friend about a month ago. As with anything, good things come to those who wait, and four weeks after starting, we are almost to the point of tasting the fruits of our labour.

To date, we have worked our way through Pulping, Fermentation (Crop to Cup – Part 1), Drying (Crop to Cup – Part 2), Drying again (yep – it took a while) (Crop to Cup – Part 3), and we continue on below.

4. Parchment Removal (Hulling)

In Part 3 of this series, drying continued in preparation for the final “hulling” or parchment removal prior to roasting. After a further two weeks drying (four in total) it was time to remove the parchment layer.

As I have written in previous posts, the beans being “dry enough” and the parchment ready for removal, is determined both by observing an appropriate drying time (approximately two weeks to a month), and having the parchment split easily off the inner bean upon attempted removal. According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF):

Inadequate drying – greater than 12 per cent moisture – will cause mouldiness and stale aroma during storage.

Upon proceeding with the hulling by hand (or rather thumbnail and finger), it is clear this is quite a labour intensive undertaking. After 1 hour, the parchment layer was removed from our crop, and we were a step further along in the process.

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Given the time and labour intensive nature of this part in the process, the DAFF suggests the following:

Place the beans, a small quantity at a time, in a food processor or similar type of blender. Use plastic blades to avoid breaking the coffee beans. Blend at low speed for approximately 30 seconds to remove the parchment from the beans.

My mother uses a similar approach, blending on low-speed for 8–9 seconds, which she finds removes much of the parchment layer without damaging the green bean inside. Whether done by hand or machine, you will be left with a fine outer layer of “silver skin” remaining on much of the bean. Enlisting the assistance of my son to provide a quick rubbing of the beans between his hands removed this final layer. Blowing away any remaining silver skin completes the process.

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We were now ready for roasting!

5. Roasting

With a dry weight of 35 grams, there was certainly no margin for error, and had me thinking I really should be calling this a “nanolot”, as “micro” probably doesn’t go far enough (yes an hour of hulling for 35 grams of green beans – as I said – very labour intensive!).

So proceed with care I did.

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The roast was undertaken via my usual breadmaker / heat gun set up which I have previously written about. The heat ramp was very slow, and the total roast time 12 minutes, with the beans pulled out 3 minutes after first crack. The result looked like a pretty even roast, and was cooled and bagged. A few days rest and it will be ready for tasting.

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Check back soon for the much anticipated taste test!

What’s Roasting #3 – El Salvador Finca El Capulin

Ubicación del subcontinente centroamericano en...
Central American subcontinent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in the roaster this week has been inspired by a tweet from @ministrygrounds, who supply the green beans used in all of my roasts:

“Beautiful new Central American coffees now available as green coffee”

So, on this advice we head to Central America for an origin from the Los Bellotos farm in El Salvador – Finca El Capulin

Fast fact on the farm (courtesy Ministry Grounds):

The farm management practice the ‘agobio’ or ‘parras’ system of coffee farming whereby the branches of the trees are bent in order to provoke new growth. This prevents the root system of the trees to be damaged (as opposed to other stumping methods) and promotes more efficient nutrient capturing. The ‘agobio’ or ‘parras’ method of coffee farming requires more space between the coffee trees and therefore this allows for less competition for nutrients amongst the trees and a less intense and more sustainable farming practice.

A second batch in the roaster today is a South American, this time of Colombian origin, Santa Rita La Chaparral Special Reserve. This varietal has been purchased with a view to doing a little blending over the coming weeks, a continuation of my exploration into this area which will be further expanded in a follow-up post to the recent Up Around the Blend earlier this month.

On the eight farms that make up this specialty Colombian coffee (courtesy Ministry Grounds):

These are “old Fashion Farms” where the coffee is handpicked, wet processed and sun dried in a “patio Quindiano” or concrete patio located in the roof of their houses.

Both batches roasted well, with the heat a little higher than usual given the cooler outdoor roasting conditions (compared to the usual ambient roasting temperature for this part of the world anyway). Both were taken half way to second crack, which produced nice, even batches, and once settled for a few days, should be great in the cup.

Something off the Vine on today’s roasting.

Tasting review to follow soon!