With Every Bag, Support the New Mill Project at Finca San Luis
Coffee grows inside cherries; in other words, each coffee bean grows like a pit in the center of a sweet, pulpy fruit that is about the same size and shape as a regular cherry. Soon after harvesting, the pulp must be stripped off the coffee bean, and the bean must be dried thoroughly. The mill -- also called a beneficio -- is where this happens. If there are any delays, the pulp may begin to ferment, creating off-flavors in the bean and reducing the quality of the coffee. The most consistent farms (including Finca San Luis) have their own mills on-site, so that they can process the coffee cherries promptly after harvest.
At Finca San Luis, prompt milling is especially important because of the rainy, humid micro-climate. At most farms, harvest happens only 1-2 weeks out of the year; at Finca San Luis, Omar harvests year-round, sending out pickers every day for weeks at a time. In addition, the high humidity means that the coffee needs to be run through a mechanical drier in addition to a drying period on raised beds. Currently, beans have to be packed and transported to an off-site facility with a mechanical drier.
The advantage of this microclimate is that it allows Omar to pick selectively, track individual microlots, and maintain the highest quality in every batch. However, there's a disadvantage, too: because Omar is harvesting constantly, he has to keep more people on staff and he wears through his equipment much faster. These things drive up his cost of production and make his farm far less efficient.
The New Mill Project
All these factors -- the weekly harvests, the rainy microclimate, Omar's drive to produce the best Organic coffee in Colombia -- mean that the farm's mill needs some extra TLC. Omar's New Mill Project will replace, and rebuild all the components of his mill. With funding help from Gimme! Coffee and Virmax Cafe (our parter exporter), Omar will...
- replace the depulper, a machine that removes the outer layer of cherry pulp from the coffee bean. Dull teeth can break the bean, exposing it to a variety of defects. The new depulper will ensure the physical integrity of the beans.
- fix/replace broken drying beds. Omar uses these drying beds to track individual micro-lots of coffee.
- build new fermentation tanks and improve the layout of the mill. Improvements will include a new augur to transport beans between the top and bottom floors, and other fixes that will speed processing time and reduce labor.
- purchase a new mechanical drier. This machine will allow Omar and his crew to do their work more efficiently, cutting out the lag time of transport and the manpower for packing and travel.
About Finca San Luis
This is our third year working closely with Omar Arango and Finca San Luis. Back in 2009, Director of Coffee met Omar, toured the farm, and began a trading partnership we're continuing to build together. Omar grows a handful of different varietals, and He treats all varietals with the same careful picking, washing and drying practices and keeps them separate for individual quality assessment. In the three years since working together Omar's farm has renewed its Organic certificate, received price premiums for his micro-lots, and won two Good Food Awards.
We have two lots of Finca San Luis in stores now, and both include a $2 direct contribution to the New Mill Project. The first is a 16-bag lot blending different varietals. This lot This particular lot is characterized by fruit and floral flavors, with a crisp citrus accents and a solid sugar base.
The second lot is unique even for Finca San Luis; it's a 2-bag lot from the La Gloria subplot of the farm. La Gloria is a section of Finca San Luis that has proven to produce some of the highest quality coffee of the farm. In fact, it is some of the highest quality coffee that we have seen from Colombia, period. It's an extremely small lot, so if you're interested in trying the La Gloria you'll have to come visit of our stores to get it -- it's that good.