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Roasted by Rich Helms

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Processing the Coffee Cherries
Once the cherries are picked, the beans are removed and then dried. Processing involves
separating the coffee beans from the cherry.

Beans removed from the cherry

Removing the beans from the cherry can be done in several ways:

1. Ferment-and-Wash Method
2. Machine-assisted Wet Processing
3. Dry Process

Ferment-and-Wash is used mainly at large coffee processing factories. On the farm, the crop was
processed with the machine-assisted wet process. Cherries that were too small to be machine
processed were rejected, then dry processed by hand.

To fully understand processing, you need to understand the parts of a coffee cherry. This
illustration from Wikipedia shows the cherry anatomy.
Coffee Bean Structure

Structure of coffee berry and beans:

1. center cut
2. bean (endosperm)
3. silver skin (testa, epidermis)
4. parchment (hull, endocarp)
5. pectin layer
6. pulp (mesocarp)
7. outer skin (pericarp, exocarp)

Sections 1, 2 and 3 form the final green coffee bean.

Chaff (silver skin) from roasting

When coffee is roasted, a paper-like peal is released that is referred to as chaff. This is the
roasted silver skin (3).

Parchment (4) is a hard white shell covering the green bean. In this picture, I broke away part of
the dried parchment (4) to reveal the green bean (1,2,3) inside.
Part of the Parchment Removed

The skin and the mucilage (5,6,7) are removed by the processing machine. The specific unit
Matias uses is a Penagos Hermanos’ UCBE model 500. The Penagos company has a patent on
the peeler, which runs vertically instead of horizontally. That characteristic, and the fact that
there is a centrifuge that washes the bean makes this machine very effective and ecofriendly.
Penagos Hermanos’ UCBE model 500

UCBE 500 Workings

Penagos Hermanos was established as a Columbian company in 1892. In the 1980s, Penagos
developed the ecologic wet coffee process plant called UCBE. The UCBE 500 can process up to
500 kgs of coffee cherries per hour using a 3 H.P. electric motor and water for washing.

This picture shows the UCBE at the plantation.

Penagos UCBE 500 at the farm
Cherries are poured into the top hopper (1). The cherry skin is cut and the beans squeezed out.
The skins are routed to the red slide, where they drop into a waiting wheelbarrow (2). The skins
are piled and composted for fertilizer. The cherries that are not split because they are too small
are screened out and sent out the reject chute, falling into the reject bag (3). The beans still
coated in mucilage are sent to a spinning grate where water is added to wash the beans. The
spinning throws off the mucilage/water mixture, which is cast off to flow down the chute to the
black holding tank (4). The washed coffee beans go into the bag (5), ready for drying.

Walter adds cherries to the processor chute

Water and mucilage flow to the holding tanks

Water and mucilage flow to the holding tanks where a two week long process with bacteria
starts. By the time the water is sprayed on the property, the PH is back at 6.8 and the organic
matter has practically been eaten up by the bacteria.
Cherry skins are collected for composting

Cherry skins are collected for composting. In a regular operation, they will come out of the
process mixed with the mucilage, causing an awful odor due to the low PH of the mucilage. In
Matias’s process, the coffee skins are separated from the mucilage thus avoiding fermentation of
the pile and the awful odor that is common in coffee processing.

Bacteria will also be applied to it and in a matter of 6 weeks, the volume of the composting pile
will go down 80% and be ready to be applied to the coffee trees.

Skins are piled to compost

The front pile has been decomposing for a few days. A new pile is started for this batch. The
black plastic is to cover the pile at night and keep it dry. It is off during the day so the sun hits
the pile of peels and dries them up quicker.
Just-processed Wet Coffee Beans

Just-processed Wet Coffee Beans that have gone thru the centrifuge and are washed and ready to
lay down under the sun to dry.

Processing coffee cherries

> Drying the beans

Author RichPosted on February 21, 2011Categories How is Coffee Grown and Harvested

3 thoughts on “Processing the Coffee Cherries”

1. sundar aaadhikari says:

April 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

i seen your production code vube model 500 i realy like this machine . i want to import
pl. send me fob price .
thanking you
sundar adhikar

2. RichHelms says:

April 2, 2011 at 9:54 am
I am only showing the use of the machine at that plantation. I do not sell them

3. Edgar Munn says:

July 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

Would someone please contact Edgar at above email address. Need information about
pulper.

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Main Menu
 About
 Rich Helms
 Brewing Coffee
 Coffee Software
 Degassing Roasted Coffee

How is Coffee Grown
 Coffee Trees and Cherries
 Planting New Coffee Trees
 Coffee Tree Final Transplant
 Coffee blossoms
 Picking Coffee Cherries
 Processing the Coffee Cherries
 Drying the beans
 Weighing and Hulling (Removing the Parchment)