We’re firing up the depulping machine
at the UMF beneficio in La Unión, ready for the 2014 coffee harvest!
This year will look a little different at the beneficio – let us
tell you what’s new and what we hope to accomplish through the
changes we’ve made.
Each year, we
learn more about coffee processing and how to better achieve our
goals of quality, training, and environmental sustainability. The
2013 harvest season saw successes in all three of these areas, but we
want to improve on it by making changes for the 2014 harvest.
The biggest change we’ve made is that
only four different farmers will process their coffee at the UMF
beneficio this year. These farmers were pre-selected based on their
participation in previous years at the beneficio and in our microloan
program. The main idea for having only four farmers each year is to
ensure that we are able to provide the best training experience
possible, so that they will be able to replicate and continue
processing high quality coffee on their own in future years.
|The fermentation tanks get tiling after being split in half.|
In addition, we (UMF) and the farmers
will be better able to manage how much coffee is coming to the
beneficio for processing, and when. Each of the four farmers will be
assigned an entire solar dryer and two fermentation tanks (we
modified our previous tanks to divide them in half and create eight
tanks in total). Farmers will be in charge of managing this
equipment, so they will know before they pick coffee if they have
room at the UMF beneficio to process, ferment, and dry it. Through
this experience, farmers will learn about managing the coffee
processing at their own beneficios in the future.
By working in-depth with four farmers
during this harvest, we will also be able to visit coffee farms on
the day of picking and offer on-site advice on picking quality
coffee. High quality picking is one of the areas that we have
identified as having the greatest impact on final quality, so this
will benefit the farmers (who will get a higher price for better
quality) as well as consumers, who will get even better coffee at the
end of the day.
Also, we’ll require farmers to spend
at least 20 hours at the UMF beneficio to learn about the different
processing stages that their coffee is going through, including
receiving, fermentation and drying. This in-depth training is
important to enable farmers to process their own coffee in the
future. Since we also want to make sure that other farmers have the
opportunity to receive this training in the future, we’re limiting
the number of years that a farmer can process at the UMF beneficio.
All of these changes will continue to
transform the beneficio into a stepping stone to farmers achieving
their own coffee processing capabilities. Within the next few years,
we are excited to see farmers graduate from the UMF beneficio and
implement high quality, environmentally sustainable beneficios of
their own. We will be posting updates throughout the harvest!