A ripe coffee bean – plump and red – signals harvest. Each year in Jamaica, where hand picking is the norm, one by one, the coffee beans come off the tree. Red coffee cherries must be picked without disturbing the unripe coffee beans on the coffee branch. This is a critical step in quality coffee production. Picking coffee in its most ripened stage is a challenge, as well an art. Coffee is no different from any other fruit, in that it has its peak, ripened stage.
Processing CoffeeProcessing of coffee is the method converting the raw fruit of the coffee plant into the coffee bean. The cherry has the fruit or pulp removed leaving the seed or bean, which is then dried. While all green coffee is processed, the method that is used varies and can have a significant effect on the flavor of roasted and brewed coffee.
On Reggie’s Roast Farms, we employ the “wet process.” Often called “washed,” this process requires large amounts of water and skill. The coffee cherries are sorted by immersion in water and bad or unripe fruit will float while the good ripe fruit will sink. The main difference between the wet and dry method is that in the wet method, the pulp of the coffee cherry is removed from the beans within 24 hours of harvesting.
The cherries are put in fermentation tanks for 12 to 48 hours to remove the outside of the cherry by having the natural enzymes loosen the slimy parenchyma from the parchment covering. This leaves the wet parchment now covering the outside of the bean. The beans are then dried on concrete patios often called “barbeques” and rotated and inspected to reach the desired moisture content after two to three days and sometimes up to 5 depending on the sunlight.
From there, the now dried parchment will be put to rest for nearly 12 weeks while the sugars inside the bean further mature following a time honored Jamaican process. Once the resting period is completed it is time for the hulling process.
Hulling is removing the now dried parchment to bring the green coffee bean one step closer to being processed. The beans are then further polished to remove any left over parchment or silver skin which gives the bean a polished, almost blue tint know only to Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, one of the final steps of our coffee processing. Next it is off to be graded based on the guidelines set forth from the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica.