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My Mini Guide for Picking and Processing Coffee
I have been picking and roasting my own coffee for more then a year,
I'm always happy with the results. It is somewhat labor intensive unless you have a pulper, however it works and you get great results.
Here is my rough guide on how to accomplish it, this is for people who want to do enough coffee for a pot to a couple pounds.
I've done just enough for a cup, but that was under the glazed over state of being intensely bored..

The first thing to do is pick the coffee,
I've seen Arabica, Robusta and a hybrid of the latter two. Whatever tree it is it should turn out to be some form of palatable coffee,
Arabica as most of you guys know is generally the best.
Hopefully it's a maintained tree that isn't literally 25 feet tall. If they are a tad too tall, or really tall you can grab the branches and bend them down as they are incredibly flexible; however it's far slower then properly pruned trees.

Now for the actual picking,
you are aiming for bright red cherries.
The ones that are yellow and (mostly) red work well, avoid anything green, or tinted brown, mushy or the like.
If in doubt about them being a tad fermented, break the cherry open and hopefully it shouldn't smell fermented.
Eventually you should be able to easily differentiate between good ones and bad ones without any thought.

Due to my arrogance I lack an explanation for this, but once they are picked most individuals float their cherries in water and toss the floaters. From my observations roughly 3% of them are floaters. Once you have them sorted out, we have to remove the skins.
This is incredibly easy with a Cuisinart food processor or the like. However, you must use a dull blade, a dough blade or some other kind that will not hurt the beans. I picked up my free food processor from the dump, and it seems to work well :)

Once you have the correct blade to use, dump the cherries into the food processor.
Add some water to make everything blend smoothly, then blend them up.
It should easily knock off the skins, and after 20 seconds to a minute you should have a slurry of pulp and beans.
if you are knocking off the mucilage you may be hitting them too hard, try to avoid it(I don't know what will happen but I'm guessing it won't be good) by using a slower speed or duller blade.

Now for the most irritating part, separating the pulp from the beans.
This is why I really want a pulper!
I usually pour them into a bucket, or bowl then add water to them. I also pour off the floating beans. I swirl them around, pull out the pulp, and eventually use a colander with running water to remove most of the small particulate. Finally let them drain for a half hour.

Now you have slimy, green beans, it's time to dry them out. Get a dehydrator, any kind will do and pop them into it, making sure the heat isn't too high or they may take longer due to being sealed off.
(It's somewhat akin to curing concrete.....)
Every few hours agitate the beans so they dry quicker.
Drying usually takes 2 days, the method I use to tell if they are done is to crack off the parchment and examine the beans.
It should easily come off, the beans are devoid of stickiness, have a dark green color and be very hard.
I've roasted them when they are not fully dried, it actually works decently but removing the parchment will be a pain.

Finally the last step, you have beans in parchment and you are ready to hull them.
I use a food processor or a cheap blender, the blender works better then the food processor.
I avoid using the blender(for some reason it works really well for hulling, turning the parchment to powder, perhaps it's narrowness of the bottom of the blender?) for pulping the cherries since it's too sharp for them.
Now when you hull your beans, make sure you do small batches so that the loose parchment doesn't dampen the blades impact or slow them down. After doing multiple batches, you will have a mess of hulled beans and parchment.
Using a blow dryer and a colander, you can remove all the parchment with ease.

These steps will take some trial and error, however they should get you started,
Edited by jm82792 on 09/25/2011 5:28 PM
This is almost funny, except that it's true. I think we forget how much work is involved in getting coffee to a burlap bag (at least I did). We think that since we roast we do the hard work.

I think Jm82792 know the truth...... way cool on you!!!
Thanks for sharing. I've not read such a simple, yet complete explanation of how coffee is processed and what the coffee looks, feels, and smells like.
I have a renewed appreciation! Thanks,Scott
Thanks :) I thought about pictures but I'm feeling a bit lazy to do so right now.
Well about two years ago I got busy and moved away from the trees I was picking from. However, the place I moved to I planted 40 trees about two years ago. The drought here was hard on them, the ants did some devastation, but the weather has been improving, my drip irrigation has helped, and a bit of pesticide has finished the ants.
Anyways I picked a few pounds of cherries and in the end my finished product was lousy. Why? I didn't dry them enough since it's been so long :/
I don't wish to start another thread, so what's the best heatgun I can buy for roasting? I want to build one, but for now I just want it to work, and not pan roast which is hard.
Fascinating. Thank you for sharing.
Hottop B2 + HTC, Cremina 83, OE Pharos, Brewtus IIIR, Baratza Vario
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