Q Coffee Processing Professional

Hi !
It's been a while.
I want to share my activity on March 2019 in Simalungun, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

I'm joining a pretty hard class for the coffee professional. Wich is coffee processing. We can talk about brewing, roasting, serving, because we're used to it. But for processing, our knowledge is little to nothing. Not literally nothing, but our practice time is very minimum. Mostly theory. So, once I know that there's a first Q Coffee Processing is held in Indonesia, I immediately to book the course.
It was held by Coffee Quality Institute, placed at Lisa & Leo Organic Farm , Indonesia. I arrived a day before the course started at Kuala Namu Airport and met Sebastian from Melbourne, and Harris from Medan. From there, we straight go to Simalungun. We arrived around 10 Pm. The road trip is taken roughly about 4-5 hours. Go to receptionist, to my room, done. I was drained.

The next morning,

I woke up around 7, by the smell of the wet bed sheet from the high humidity of air. By the sound of the birds. By the ray of light that lunge into the small little gap in my mirror. But I never regret it. It was the best wake up after a while.

And then we go to the wet mill of Lisa & Leo that take around 45 minutes of driving. There, we met with all the participants. They're come along from Vietnam, Philiphine, Melbourne, India, Indonesia, and for me, I can be counted as coming from Indonesia or Saudi Arabia :)

The class itself I can say its 40% theoritical and 60% practice. We've been taught about the value of coffee processor in the whole of coffee value chain. Coffee processor should know about lot of variables to be measured during processing such as brix, cherry to wet parchment ratio, characterization of raw material, etc.
After that is a processing. Whole variation of coffee processing. From dry, to wet processing. But also there's a uniqueness on this course. Since it happened in Sumatra, and Sumatran coffee is very famous of the wet-hulled process. I think its still the only Country in the world who did this method. So in the first day, Mr Leo show us how to process Wet-Hulled coffee, and how it is different from another process.
Mr. Leo talked about Wet Hull
So basically, wet hulled process is similar with what we know as washed process. Coffee is pulped and the parchment and then fermented, and after certain moisture level, it hulled to remove the parchment from green bean. Usually, in the washed process, coffee parchment is remove when the moisture hit 12-14%. But in the wet process, it removed when the moisture hit 35%. It requires heavier and stronger but also precise huller machine.
He also show us how to hull or remove the coffee parchment on wet-hulled method.
Freshly Sumatran wet hulled coffee

I'm gonna share about coffee processing, since this post is about Q Coffee Processing. Doesnt mean that coffee cherry anatomy is not important, but I'm gonna share it on another post. In general, coffee is processed by two methods, dry or wet process.

Dry process, or commonly said as "natural" process, is when coffee is dried with the cherry intact with the seeds. Usually the cherry is soaked in the water to remove any dirt and then dry in the patio or drying beds.
When it drying on drying bed, we need to looking for any coffee defect or any foreign matter that maybe passed trough washing section.
The speed of drying is affected by wind, and sunlight intensity. So we need to adjust according to weather. Too much sunlight will lead into fast but uneven drying. Less sunlight means longer drying that could lead into over fermentation. Low airflow will lead into molding. When too high airflow also will increasing the rate of drying. Natural process in Indonesia is not widely use because of the high humidity and rainfall. That's why usually wet mill using plastic green house to help them have more control on drying.
Washed, Spread Out Fermentation

Submerged Fermentation
Wet process, or commonly said as "washed" process, is when coffee cherry is pulped and left with the mucilage. This mucilage then washed and fermented. This fermentation is helping for flavor development and also to make the cleaning easier. The fermentation on washed process also variatif. There's a submerge, pile up, and spread out. Submerge means the coffee is fermented on water, while spread out and pile up is dry fermentation where the coffee is fermented on plastic sheet with one is piled up, and the other is spreaded.

On coffee processing, we're literally babysitting our coffee. Because whenever the climate change, we need to make a fast decision what to do for our coffee until it ready to hulled. The decision of when is the time for hulling also affected by climate, production speed, efficiency, and many.

Moisture Meter Reading at 32.8%
After we fermenting the coffee, then the coffee need to be dry. In general, coffee is dried using machine (mechanical drier) or sunlight. While there's a lot of variety of mechanical drier, it's not commonly used in Indonesia. Since the investation is usually high, and a lot of people believes that sun dried is superior to the flavor. While actually I've tasted also some of the good quality mechanical dried coffee. But in Indonesia's case, it's just not cost effectives. The coffee is dried until it reach 14% moisture level.
Other than moisture, we also need to check the weight loss trough out the drying process. This will give you a sight of your production size, cost, and time.

After coffee is dried, it's hulling time! This is not my favorite part, because i have to retake on pulping and hulling. So basically it's how we adjust the huller machine to minimizing the defect caused by hulling. Because the machine is kind of crushing the beans, without really crushing it. Got the point?

Coffee is a commodity that sold by grade. From the CoE, Specialty, Grade 1, 2, 3, and God knows what else. But one thing in common, the higher the grade, the lower the defective of the beans. So we need to sort em all ! There's 3 step to sorting the coffee. One is by density, size, and color. Density is important because the denser the beans usually comes from the higher elevation of farm. The reaction caused by the slower ripening stage of cherry. That's why the denser the coffee usually sweeter. Machine to sort this kind of thing is called sutton. It's a large moving plate with one of the side is elevated and there's a different step to move the coffee to different bucket based on the density level.
And then, there's a screen machine to seperate the coffee based on bean size. This will help the roaster to get an even roast. Usually this machine is 3 or 4 level of shaken screen size.
The third is color sorting. This stage is to remove any defect like full black, partial black, sour, fungus, or foreignt material. Color sorting usually done by hand picked, or machine. Hand color sorting is a labor intense operation. Usually coffee is moving on the conveyor belt while labor on the side is hand sorting the coffee. While color sorting machine is fast, it's expensive.

The rest of the week is spent on test. A lot of test from theoritical and practice. That's why I didnt have any photo of it. But thank God I'm passed.
It's an intense but fun experience. Very thankful to Lisa & Leo who hosted this course in such a beautiful place. And Johan who held this Q Coffee Processing Course. And Tim Heinze as Instructor. He's such a humble man with a great knowledge. If you have a chance to have a course of meet him, highly recommended.

Here's some of picture that been waste if I dont put it here :)

Class of 2019


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