There was some excellent comments to the post I made a while back about my trip to Brazil in July. I loved the conversations that took about taking a closer look at processing. One of the questions that I asked was about harvesting and sorting, and what measurements and tools could be used in learning how to develop certain characteristics in the cup as well as control quality. Felipe Croce of Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza was kind enough to get back to me with some information and other insights, but wanted to include some pictures as well, so I asked if he minded if I posted it as a stand alone post. I think that it's incredibly interesting and insightful to look at what he says are the reasons why selective picking is so difficult in Brazil.
Here's what he had to say:
I’ve measured brix readings here from relatively orange cherries onwards and my readings for pure Arabica strains range from 12 to over 35 and for some strains we have that are crossed with catimors go from 10 to 20. Another important factor is the humidity, which can range from 60% to almost dry (dry being 11%). Our idea here is not to focus on picking selectively or actually, as least hand picking as possible (if possible). The idea is to innovate methods of sorting so that we can separate all of these phases of maturation and dry them separately. We might be able to dry more efficiently, more evenly, and perhaps develop different methods for different stages. Furthermore, everything leads us to believe that better processing and more even drying leads to a product that holds up better over time.
Today farmers don’t separate their coffees for the following reasons:
1)They don’t have the technology to do so beyond maybe using water and a pulper
2) It costs more money
3) They think that they will make less money. This is because if they mix everything together they can sell it all at market price. If they separate the greens than they are afraid they won’t get a price that makes sense because their greens will go for next to nothing.
4) They’ve never even thought about it.
5)Coffee professionals here insist that coffees can be cleaned at the mill so why bother.
If coffees are separated it actually makes for more efficient use of patio space. The drier coffees will dry faster and can be stored as they reach desired point.
Coffee fermentation can be controlled more. More humid cherries can be treated differently from passas. This will give you uniformity from cup to cup amongst many other positive things.
Finally, we are only just beginning to learn how to clean up processing. The potential in improving quality is huge. Processing is the fastest thing you can change and later comes varietal studies and soil.