We manage all our cherry selection, milling, processing, warehousing and exporting facilities. We produce consistently high quality coffee, offer support to our farmers and washing station managers, provide extensive information about each micro-lot producer, offer direct contact and ship from a few bags to full container loads of coffee worldwide.
We choose to use the most artisanal method of producing coffee. Every cherry we use is hand-picked and then transported by our farmers on the head or by bicycle to the washing stations. When they arrive at the washing station, the farmers take their cherries to barrels of water to see if any float. Any underdeveloped cherries will rise to the top and are removed. Only the ripened, non-floating cherries are kept. The cherries are then taken to the selection tables and those with any visual defects are removed. Once the cherry selection and sorting has been completed it must be approved by the washing station's selection officer. The farmer is then given a wooden tag with a number and joins the weighing queue outside the buying hall. When it is their turn, the farmer takes their cherries into the buying hall. The washing station’s weighing officer checks the quality of the cherries once more by placing a sample of the farmer’s cherries in a bucket of water to make sure that none float. The farmer then places their cherries on the scale and the weight is recorded under the farmer’s profile. The cherries are then poured into the reception tanks in the buying hall. Each farmer receives a receipt for their cherries and leaves the station, which is when the processing begins.
We mostly produce fully-washed coffee, but are now discovering new flavours through natural and honey drying processes.
The cherries are poured from the reception tanks into the pulping machine which removes the cherry skin and part of the mucilage on the bean. It also separates the beans by high and low grade quality. The pulper is the only machine that is used in the processing of our coffee - every other process is done by hand. The beans are left in fermentation tanks to ferment for at least 10 to12 hours. A small removable sign is placed on the wall of the fermentation tank that has the washing station name, date the cherries were purchased, grade of the bean and the time when fermentation began. Once the beans have fermented, the mucilage water is drained from the tank into the mucilage canal. The beans are referred to as 'parchment' at this stage because they still have a thin protective skin. Our workers are then placed in the fermentation tank to 'trample' the parchment for 30 minutes. This trampling process helps to remove mucilage on the fermented parchment. After this, the parchment is given fresh water to move it into the washing-grading canal, where it is washed by our workers.
In the washing-grading canal, there are two wooden barriers that separate the parchment by density. The higher grade parchment is more dense and will sink to the bottom of the canal while the lower grade parchment is less dense and will float. The latter gets drained with the water to the end of the canal. When it reaches the end, this parchment is poured directly into wooden trays and carried to the drying tables. The higher grade parchment is moved by our workers from the washing-grading canal to the soaking tanks. This parchment is given a final wash with fresh water and left to soak for at least 20 hours. The purpose of soaking the parchment is to improve its appearance and to remove the little mucilage that may remain. Once the parchment has finished soaking, the water is drained until it reaches the same level as the parchment in the tanks. Our workers are then placed in the tanks to trample the parchment again for a few minutes. The parchment is given a final wash with fresh water after the second trampling. The water is then drained and the parchment is carried in nylon bags to the drying tables. All the information about the parchment that is written on the small panels is kept with each tray and nylon bag of parchment.
The parchment is placed on 20m long raised tables to dry under natural sunlight. No more than 1000kg parchment is placed on each drying table. For both grades of parchment, when they are transferred to the drying tables the same information that is written on the small panels must be written on a piece of paper and put in a plastic bag that is attached to the table. The parchment is left to dry from sunrise to sunset and is covered with a sheet during the evening or when it rains. If the weather conditions are good, the parchment takes on average 9 to14 days to dry. During this time it is stirred regularly, the moisture level is carefully monitored and any parchment with visual defects is removed.
Once it has fully dried and the right moisture level is reached, the parchment is removed from the drying tables. The high grade coffee that is processed in Kayanza has to reach a moisture level of 11.5% and the low grade coffee has to reach a moisture level of 12.5%. Both the high and low grade coffee that is processed in Ngozi has to reach a moisture level of 12.5%. It is then put in bags and taken to the washing station store room. When the store room is full, the coffee is moved to the dry mill where it is kept until the end of the season when it is finally exported.
Natural Processed Coffee
During the processing of natural coffee, none of the cherry's layers are removed and no water is used. After the cherries have been selected and weighed, they are taken directly to the drying tables. The coffee bean is dried inside its skin, changing colour from red to brown to black from drying under natural sunlight. Once it has reached the correct moisture level, the outer layer is hulled to reveal the dry green bean. This process requires more hand labour and almost double the time to dry than the fully-washed process.
Honey Processed Coffee
Only the ripest cherries are picked to produce honey coffee. Once selected, these cherries are kept overnight in the reception tanks and given fresh water regularly to neutralise fermentation. The beans are then pulped, left in a layer of mucilage and then taken directly to the drying tables. Workers then squeeze the juice of 20 oranges onto each table of parchment and leave it to dry under natural sunlight. Oranges are used because they have a good balance of acidity and sweetness. The name of this process can be misleading, as most people assume that the coffee has honey flavour notes or that honey is used during the processing of the coffee. The real reason for this name is because of the sticky, honey-like feel of the mucilage on the bean before it is dried.