Steps 1-7 Cultivation
The beans we roast are also the seeds of the next generation. The healthiest are selected and planted in carefully controlled nursery conditions. When they germinate, the shoots break through the surface, the seed casing dissolves and the seedling puts out its first two primary leaves. These are then moved outside to grow into small coffee plants, but still within protected nursery conditions. Once they reach the right size they are reintroduced to the forest where they will spend the rest of their lives, taking around three years to reach maturity and begin to fruit.
Steps 8-13 Development
Between the ages of 3 and 5 years, the plants reach maturity and develop their first buds. These flower after the rains have come, producing blooms which last for a week and can self-pollenate. Now fertilised, the blooms fall away and coffee cherries swell on the branches. The individual cherries ripen at different rates, meaning on one branch green cherries can sit next to fully matured ones. At the peak of the season the plant puts all of its energy into growing and ripening these so within a few short weeks the branches are covered in coffee cherries, which gradually become uniformly ripe.
Steps 14-18 Picking & Presorting
The first round of harvesting is done by hand, selecting ripe coffee cherries and moving them on for sorting. The second harvest cycle is less selective, taking all of the cherries regardless of their ripeness in order to encourage further growth. The cherries then go through a first manual sorting in the forest itself, before being loaded onto transport to be taken to the processing station. Here a second manual sorting process removes immature, overripe beans and any other materials which might have been introduced by harvesting.
Steps 19 - 26 Processing
The sorted cherries are poured into a specialist tank for wet processing. Overripe fruit float to the surface to be removed, while the best cherries sink. These flow into the pulper, which is calibrated to only remove the flesh from ripe cherries, while the still-hard less ripe fruit sink lower and are returned to the cycle. The flesh mainly removed, washed coffee beans are placed into a fermentation tank where lactic bacteria strip away the remaining material, after which the beans are laid out on specialist drying nets.
Steps 26-30 Drying & Re-sorting
After 1-2 days, depending on conditions, the beans are taken from the nets and placed on the drying beds. The drying beans are constantly turned and smoothed over, to ensure they dry evenly in the sun. As soon as their residual moisture is low enough, they are gathered up and taken to the next station for further sorting, with defective beans removed and last quality checks made. This final manual sorting leaves less than a handful of beans for every sack which started the journey.
Steps 31-35 Storage & Transportation
The beans are stored for at least a year on the farm to make sure they are completely stable and no unwanted changes happen during transport. Once this is assured, the bags are loaded into containers which are then hermetically sealed and not opened again until they reach the roaster, ensuring not just quality but removing the chance for tampering or removal of beans. Once they arrive, the sacks are loaded into an atmosphere-controlled storage facility to continue the maturation process – something which is vital to the flavour.
Steps 36-39 Production
The matured beans are roasted in a copper drum roaster, designed to give complete control of the process, along with superior heat conduction to ensure absolute evenness in the roast. Near the end of the process, the beans are smoothed out to preserve their structural integrity and prevent the loss or oxidation of the aromatic oils. The roasted beans are then air-cooled rather than water-cooled – something some do to boost the weight and value. They are then packaged up, to undergo one last maturation before they make the last journey towards your cup.