A chilly rain fell on La Unión yesterday afternoon as we gathered under the newly-built beneficio roof, wearing sweaters and raincoats and jumping up and down, partly to stay warm and partly out of excitement. We looked up in anticipation at every truck that passed: we were waiting for Alfredo Ponce to arrive with this year's first coffee for processing at the beneficio.
Everything was in place, and daylight was beginning to slip away. Then, at 5:30, a truck carrying coffee came up the new road to the beneficio. Alfredo jumped out of the truck and greeted us with a smile. We unloaded the bags and found them full of gorgeous, ripe coffee. It was time for the first run of our new sorting equipment, system for moving coffee, and fermentation tanks.
An hour an a half later, we finished processing. Alfredo, who processed coffee at our beneficio last year as well, stayed to see the new sorting mechanisms and other changes we'd made for this year. Despite being tired and wet after processing, we were very happy that the new density and size-sorting mechanisms worked beautifully and that coffee flowed through the system much better than last year. We still have small changes to make, but we are excited to have started processing coffee and we are looking forward to the next few months!
Here are a few pictures from the afternoon:
Alfredo Ponce (in orange) helps unload coffee at the beneficio.
The coffee, mostly of the variety IHCAFE 90, waits to move to the de-pulping machine after the floating cherries were skimmed off and the water drained.
We removed floating coffee and sent it to another tank to be collected separately.
Alfredo brought us 25 gallons (about 750 lbs.) of coffee cherries from his farm, which is at an altitude of about 1,475 meters.
Alfredo watches his coffee go through the de-pulping and size-sorting machine.
A locally-made sorting machine separates de-pulped coffee from damaged coffee.