It begins on a traditional Colombian farm, where coffee seeds are planted. Over 3 or 4 years, these seeds mature intro trees and produce fruits. Once ripe, the cherries are harvested and processed, depending on the desired aroma and flavor profile. This phase doesn’t always involve water usage (although this phase is known as wet milling. Discussed further in wet mill section) and the beans will end up as dry ‘parchment’. Not ready for roasting, the beans require dry milling before being shipped overseas – hulling, quality sorting and packing as green coffee.
The coffee plant is vulnerable to plagues, so pest control is a critical part of
maintaining healthy, productive trees. In order to make appropriate use of
crop protection products, our producers carefully analyze the altitude, climate, and soil conditions of their microclimates. They are always on the lookout for new farming techniques that naturally limit the pests and diseases they face. Once planted, it takes approximately 2 years for coffee trees to bear fruit.
Processing refers to the handling of coffee cherries and their beans. It is as
significant in altering the final coffee flavor as the frequently mentioned
roasting and brewing techniques. Below are the three main types of processing
This procedure, also known as dry processing, is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming. After farmers pick the cherries, they are left to dry in the sun for up to 4 weeks. The green beans are then extracted from the parchment and pulp. This method usually yields a wine-like taste, since the bean ferments (within its pulp and skin) for much longer than other methods.
In every process, drying occurs mechanically or in the sun. Once dried, the “parchment” beans are ready to go through the next phase: the dry mill.
The Dry Mill
Dry milling is the final stage in green coffee production, which involves removing the last layers of dry skin and sorting and preparing the beans for shipment. Firstly, it’s important to eliminate rocks and impurities before the beans can be threshed (removing the parchment skin). Afterwards, the coffee undergoes a three-stage sorting process to remove the defective and flawed beans, and to classify the healthy beans.
The beans are sifted through a series of metal screens with different sized holes. The selection size is determined by passing beans through screens until they cannot pass through the next, smaller size.
Once the beans are quality sorted, the coffee is then prepared for export.
The milled beans, now referred to as green coffee, are packed in 70kg bags and sent to a Colombian port. The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia inspects the coffee to ensure it meets national standards for coffee quality. After, the coffee bags are placed in a shipping container and loaded aboard a ship.
Upon arrival to its US destination, the coffee is unloaded and passes through several inspections: US customs, the US Department of Agriculture, and finally, the Food and Drug Administration. After inspection, the coffee is approved to enter the country and is ready for transport to a client or warehouse.