Once the cherries are gathered, they are put into water in order to remove “floaters,” or bad beans. Then they are processed through a de-pulping machine, called a pulpero, to separate the coffee bean from the fruit. This must be done within the first 24 hours of being picked or else the fruit goes bad. The farmers in the San Miguel Cooperative all have access to a pulpero, but some of the other cooperatives with whom we work do not have pulperos. Once de-pulped, the coffee beans are left to ferment in their natural juices in the farmers’ houses for 24 to 30 hours, depending on the weather. Next, they are washed to remove the sticky residue and then dried on a patio for 8 to 12 days (this varies depending on the region). Once the beans have dried they pass through a machine called a trilladora (dehusker) to remove the final parchment layer
What makes De la Gente coffee wonderful is its superb quality, which is achieved with care taken throughout the entire process. Our coffee is classified as Specialty Grade coffee because of the altitude at which it’s grown, as well as the size of the beans and the small number of defects to which it is sorted. Specialty Grade coffee can only have up to 5 defects in every 300 grams of green coffee. By placing stringent controls on the sorting process, we are able to receive higher prices for our final product, thus higher profits for the farmers. Green coffee beans or café oro, are sorted by size using a large sieve and then sorted by hand to remove all the defects (mottled, eaten by insects, broken, etc.). This process is very time consuming and laborious. After this step, the coffee is either exported as green coffee or it is roasted for local sales.