Over the past two decades we’ve made several visits to two coffee farms owned by friends. The Rodriguez’s small farm above Heredia and on our friend Jim Alafaro’s estate at Río Jorcó in the hills of Tarrazu – Costa Rica’s most coveted coffee producing regions. Anyone who’s interested can visit a farm and small processing plant on a coffee tour in Costa Rica.
Rio Jorco Estates has built a small craft processing plant that helps locals who are still operating their farms by peeling, drying, hulling and bagging their coffee as individual lots rather than mixing it all together in the traditional manner. Processing coffee from small lots separately means the local farmers have the opportunity to seek a much higher price from specialty roasters who seek out specific growing conditions for their premium coffees.
Processing the coffee from red cherries to green beans involves washing and removing the low quality fruits, peeling off the outer red skin (which is saved and composted to make fertilizer), scrubbing off the inner mucilaginous layer, sun drying the beans, fine tuning the moisture with a mechanical dryer, stripping off the inner parchment skin, and finally another quality control step on a vibrating table sorter.
The processed green beans are bagged in 50 kilo (110 lb) bags and stacked in the warehouse carefully separated by grower and specific plot on each farm. Samples from the bags are pulled and roasted when premium coffee buyers visit for a tasting.
Below are a few of our photos showing the second part of the coffee process – peeling, drying and sorting. Each of the photos links to a detailed description if you’d like to learn more.