Each Catracha producer maintains their own individual farm, which range in size from 2 to 10 acres. During the harvest, 10 to 20 pickers (usually family and neighbors) collect the ripe cherry from the coffee trees over a period of several months (December to March).
Each of the Catracha producers have their own small wet-mill on the farm. Ripe cherries are depulped on the farm the same day that they are picked using a small machine that squeezes the beans from the cherry. The beans fall into a fermentation tank and remain there for 24 to 48 hours while the coffee ferments.
During fermentation, the sticky mucilage attached to the bean is broken down and easily washes off at the end of the fermentation process. The coffee is washed with clean water and then placed on a patio to begin the drying process from a moisture content of about 45% down to 11%. After a few hours of drying, the coffee is usually moved from the patio to raised drying beds covered in plastic (solar dryers). In the high and cool elevations of Santa Elena, coffee can be dried slower (the target is about 15 days), which means the coffee is more stable and has a longer shelf-life for roasters. Once dried, the coffee is rested in a warehouse for about a month inside of grainpro bags and then taken to a dry-mill and prepared for export.
Click here to view a flowchart of our process.
In 2014, the Catracha Quality Project (CQP) was launched. The CQP is a coffee data collection project aimed at helping producers in Santa Elena understand how their processing decisions impact the quality of their coffee. Over the last several years, data loggers recording temperature and relative humidity, and pH meters have been used to collect data during the depulping, fermentation and drying stages of post-harvest processing. Samples from each day of processing have been collected and cupped. Cupping data is compared to the farm data in search of ways to improve processing decisions in future harvests. The information from the CQP is shared with producers throughout the year during capacity building events. The idea is that our advice is data driven and shared throughout the community of small coffee producers.
Here are some links to article about the CQP published on the Royal Coffee Blog.
Catracha Coffee exports green coffee as individual farm micro-lots through Royal Coffee in Emeryville, California. Each micro-lot has its own distinct profile. Many of the profiles are published on the Royal Coffee website where green coffee is available for roasters to purchase.
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