John in Guatemala

John made his way from Atlanta to Guatemala city this past week in preparation to take an "origin" tour of different beneficios (coffee mills) and fincas around Guatemala with the Roaster's Guild.

Before his official tour John spent the weekend with Les, Jamie and the farmers of Santa Maria de Jesus. These are pictures of John depulping 250 pounds of coffee! Now that's a lot of coffee!

In the first picture Julio, Les and John are picking out the green (unripe) cherries before they go through the depulper. These exact beans were picked by some new farmers who have decided to join the co-op. We are excited to have them because they had some of the best picked coffee we've seen. "Solo rojo."

The second picture is of John actually cranking the depulper. The cherries go from the top and get squished along the copper grate which pushes the beans out of the cherry pulp. This is some tiring work. The stuff coming out at the bottom of the depulper is only the pulp that is later composted back into the soil.

The third picture is the beans coming out of the depulper. There are a few of the cherries left with the beans, but those will be sorted out in the washing process.

More updates from the field coming soon...

Beneficio in Santa Maria

Les had a great meeting with the farmers this week. They have created a contract for the land that the beneficio (wet mill) will be constructed on. Because of the demand during picking season, construction will not start this season. Things move quite slow here in Guatemala, but it looks like construction might start in April! This is great news!

Just yesterday Julio and his nephew received and processed more than 18 Quintales of coffee cherries from various farmers within the coop. That's a lot of coffee cherries to process on his small depulpper. Therefore the idea of having a beneficio with a larger depulper and drying patio is a great idea for efficiency, and it will allow for more of the farmers to get more involved in the processing of their own coffee.

This is a video of the land that will have the beneficio on it...

Photos of Alberto's land

As mentioned before, here are some pictures from Alberto's field. The first image is of the coffee cherries from one of Alberto's trees. They are almost ready for their first picking!

The second picture is of Alberto on the left, Julio (the main contact and organizer of the cooperative) in the middle and his son Melvin on the right.

The third image is of a coffee cherry with the two coffee beans that are found inside of each cherry. The beans are covered in a sweet tasting mucilage (the tan color). This mucilage is what ferments after the cherries have been depulped (depulping is what I did manually to show the beans inside. It is basically just taking off the outside ruby red flesh). From there the bean (with the mucilage on it still), is set out on drying racks and the mucilage turns into paper-thin parchment (this phase is called pergamino). I will show more of the phases later.

And the fourth image is of the coffee bean flowers. Before there are cherries, these white flowers form on the branches. Once these are pollinated then they will turn into the beautiful coffee cherries. The cherries start out as green to yellow to orange to light red to ruby red. If you don't pick it early enough they kind of turn a reddish brown color. All of these pictures were taken at the same time. Therefore, as you can tell there has to be multiple pickings of ripe cherries because some of the cherries are ready to be picked while others are still in their flower form.

More to come later...