Neighbours of El Fenix - COLOMBIA
Varietal: Pink Bourbon
Once the cherries have fermented for 24 hours, the coffee is transported to a drying bed. These sit in closed greenhouses, where coffee is layered in sheets of 12 kg per 2m² for 5 days. The coffee is turned at least 3 times a day, though weather depending, this may increase to 6 times a day. This is to ensure a uniform initial drying, as air humidity levels may fluctuate
Once the coffee reaches 21% humidity, it is taken to the mechanical dryer. Here, it takes around 4 to 5 days to finalise the drying process, which is complete at 10% humidity. The temperature in the mechanical dryer oscillates between 30 to 35 degrees celsius.
Following the 24 hour fermentation in cherry, the coffee is then pulped and fermented again in the same fashion for another 24 hours. This enhances the sweetness and acidity of the cup profile. Conveniently, this helps the drying process and the degradation of the pectins in the beans.
The coffee is dried in the same way as the natural, however the coffee is transported to the mechanical dryer once the beans have reached 16% humidity. The coffee is dried in the same way as the honey but we only start the mechanical dryer phase once the beans reach 16% humidity.
Community Wet Mill
As well as being a rare variety producing farm, El Fénix is also home to a developing community wet mill for producers in the area. The project was crowdfunded to help fund the construction of the mill, which when complete will provide the region’s farmers with greater control over their coffee quality, and control over their income through a fixed price payment system. Investment in this kind of accessible infrastructure is one of the necessary steps to make good on the promise of development through trade.
Through purchasing cherries from neighbouring farms rather than parchment, we can ensure quality by controlling processing variables, maximising the potential value of the coffee. A two-payment system helps to stabilise incomes and improve cash flow timing; the first upfront upon delivering cherry (3-6 weeks earlier than first parchment payments), and a second upon export.
The first payment is the equivalent of COP 1,000,000/carga parchment, the second payment fund is made upon export, and dependent on the price roasters are willing to pay; if roasters are willing to pay more, that difference/kg flows straight through to the producers in the neighbourhood in the second payment.
There is a general rule of thumb that is followed for each variety at the farm. Each coffee must be collected with a tolerance of 5% underripe beans. Once the daily harvest is complete, the coffee is floated right away. Each batch is stirred at least 3 times a day to ensure that any underripe beans have a chance to float to the surface and be separated from the high-density coffee.
The floating process occurs in a serpentine, to ensure that all beans have the chance to be buoyant, and the coffee correctly sorted by density. Collected rain water is used in the channels, which is reused until it reaches a pH of 5.5. To begin each processing method, all cherries are fermented under a water seal for 24 hours. This ensures a sealed fermentation from contact with air and organisms, and a controlled temperature that sits between 19 to 21 degrees celsius.
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