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Home Sweet Home - Step 4 of Farm to Cup

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Home Sweet Home - Step 4 of Farm to Cup

Coffee bean processing: farm to cup

While the fourth step within our farm to cup series may be the most stressful, it is also the most rewarding. 

The bags from the previous step are ready to go. They sit in the storage room at the processing facility, waiting for their next destination. 

This fourth step of the farm to cup series will be told from the point of view of Arturo Penarreta. 


I knock on Shane's door at 5:30am. I tell him it's time to get up. I have already cooked eggs and bacon, and I've made some fresh squeezed orange juice as well as a cup of coffee. 

Shane, a little tired from the day before, makes his way over to the table. 

We eat quickly, and head out the door.

Gerardo, our trusted taxi driver, is waiting on us. He flies through the mountain, taking us down to Piñas, Ecuador. After 20 minutes of non-stop twisting and turning, we arrive at the processing facility. 

It's 6:15am and the container will arrive in 45 minutes. 

Fabricio, Marie, Shane, and I all sit around and have one more good cup of coffee. 

At 6:45, our help arrives. Michael Ochoa, a native of Piñas, has been loading containers his entire life. While it's not been sacks of coffee beans, corn and bananas pose an even more difficult task. 

It's 7:00, the container has still yet to arrive. I can tell... Shane is getting extremely antsy. I've never understood why he worries quite as much as he does.

Minutes later, I see Shane fly out the door. The container has finally arrived. Now, the fun part - loading up each of these sacks - one by one - into the container. The catch is - You only have an hour to do it. The driver needs to be at the port of Guayaquil by mid afternoon, and it takes quite some time to get there. 

After contemplating the most efficient way to do so, Shane and Michael begin loading up the container. After 40 minutes of hard work, they finish. All 140 bags are stacked neatly.

Shane and I shut the door to the container, lock it, and say farewell. 

The driver leaves, destined for the port of Guayaquil. 


We all relax for the rest of the day. We spend time together, as it's Shane's final day in Ecuador. After 4 weeks, our work has done. We reminisce, thinking about all the fun times we had - the 15 hour bus rides, the waterfalls, the good food, the incredible plantations, the hard work. What a 4 weeks it has been. 


At 8pm that night, we drop Shane off at the bus stop. He says his farewells and begins his journey back home. 

He texts me the next morning, letting me know he has made it safely to the airport in Quito. 


2 weeks later, I receive a WhatsApp message from Shane: "Arturo, the coffee has been held up at the Panama Canal. The freight forwarder told me our container didn't make the cargo ship. It will be another 2 weeks before our coffee arrives to the port of Savannah." 

On queue, 2 weeks later, I receive another text from Shane: "Arturo, the coffee has arrived to the port of Savannah. We should be getting it in 2-3 days." 

2 days later, I receive a picture message from Shane.

It's a picture of the bags - stacked, just how we left them.  


The fourth step is complete. The bags have made their way from Piñas, Ecuador, to Macon, Georgia. 

Read part 5 here

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