To be honest, if you told me you had the perfect cup of coffee, I wouldn't believe it. Knowing all of the processes that go into making coffee - all of the opportunities for an honest mistake to happen - a perfect cup seems HIGHLY unlikely.
However, if you pay close attention to details, you can make a cup that is pretty dang good!
This blog is told from the point of view of Mrs. Marie Paredes, the wife of Fabricio and the daughter of the original owner of the processing facility in Piñas, Ecuador. Mrs. Marie talks about the second and third machine at the processing facility. These machines peel and grade the coffee!
Z Beans has partnered with Marie and Fabricio to make our supply chain feasible. While Marie and Fabricio are vital to Z Beans' ability to import, our relationship stems way deeper than just business. They are our friends. They are part of the Z Beans family.
Shane comes flying down the stairs. He just dumped the beans into the first machine, and Fabricio just turned on the peeler. Shane can't allow a single bean to pass through without inspecting it. It's like he forgets that Fabricio and I have done this for over 30 years now..
Anyways, Shane makes his way over to Fabricio, and they both marvel over the washed processed coffee beans making their way through the peeling machine. Both of them inspect the coffee, praying it looks as good as it did in Ibarra.
Arturo walks into the processing facility with his humidity tester in hand. I tell you - he absolutely loves that thing. Shane bought us one to keep in Ecuador, and I don't think Arturo has set it down since.
Arturo takes some of the beans, puts them in the humidity tester, and tests it.
Arturo looks at Shane with a huge grin and shows him the result. Shane, animated as usual, fist pumps. Fabricio gently tips his cap in approval.
The three men bag up 100 pounds and Shane takes each bag over to the final machine - the three grade processor.
Unfortunately, we can't run both machines at the same time. Every time we try - it blows the fuse box.
[To be honest, it's probably best that we do. Shane would probably try to run all three machines at once!]
After a couple hours of making one-hundred pound bags full of freshly peeled, green coffee beans, the men focus their attention on the third machine.
Shane dumps the bags into the hopper, and Arturo situates the three buckets underneath the spouts. The buckets are labeled 1,2, and 3. The first bucket has the highest graded coffee, the second - second best - and third - fertilizer for next year's crops.
Fabricio turns the machine on, and the beans start moving through the screens. Milton's coffee from Ibarra is high quality, though. Almost all of the beans are the first grade.
Once one of the five gallon buckets underneath the spouts is full, Shane dumps the bucket in a correctly labeled bag. Shane carries a full bag over to the scale, and I weigh it. The scale we use was the original scale my father had purchased. It's very accurate, though!
Once the bag is weighed, Arturo ties it and wheels it over to the storage room. When it is in the storage room it is now ready for export!
We repeat this process - over and over again. The only difference is when we are processing the natural processed coffee. Because these beans have a few more defects, pickers come and pick out all the defected beans. It's amazing to watch the pickers work - they are incredibly quick. They can pick through over 150 pounds in an hour.
Typically, we can completely process about 3500 pounds per day.
It is hard work, but it is rewarding.
At the end of the day, Fabricio and I head back home. Arturo and Shane hitchhike a ride back to Zaruma - I don't know why Shane just doesn't pay for a taxi - but oh well. I'm sure they will make it home safe!
Until tomorrow. Until step 4!