Hand Sorting Coffee Cherries
As you sip your cup of coffee it's almost impossible to comprehend the amount of work that has gone into processing every bean. In this blog I'm focusing on just one of the vital processes that are necessary to ensure that only the ripest and healthiest beans reach your cup. In November 2016 I visited Northern Sumatra and for a week toured the regions coffee farms and factories. Big factories are amazing to look at. Tons of coffee can been seen at a variety of stages in the processing journey, however on many occasions things are happening so fast that it is difficult to comprehend exactly what is going on. The video I've included in this blog was taken at a roadside station.
The large sacks you can see are full of a combination of under-ripe, ripe, over-ripe and damaged coffee cherries. They will have been collected from the surrounding farms and brought here to be sorted and pulped. Sorting the good from the bad is brilliantly simple. The cherries are tipped into a large plastic bucket which is filled with water. The coffee cherries that are not up to standard simply float to the surface and as you can see from the video skimmed off with a rudimentary sieve. This coffee will not go to waste it's what's known as Triage, lower grade coffee that will almost certainly end up in the local market. Sad to say but in many of the countries I have visited the locals couldn't afford the prices achieved for the best export coffee.
As with so many of the jobs in coffee processing it's hard, backbreaking work, very repetitive but absolutely necessary. Our Sumatra coffee comes from Koperasi Permata Gayo and no doubt much of this coffee will have followed this very simple sorting process. Enjoy!