You know how when we were little, our moms—to their great distress—would find us by a mud puddle with a stick, splashing up a mess? Well, as you can see by the pictures, a lot of our coffee producers must work—day in and day out—in a little boy’s paradise.
Of the several different ways of processing the wet beans, we still use the old method of wet processing the ripe cherries on the different farms that the coffee is produced. The cherries are milled the same afternoon that they are picked, and the wet slimy beans are then piled in wooden or concrete boxes overnight. Typically, the next day around ten o’clock (depending on the ambient temperatures it may be sooner or later because heat speeds up the fermentation process) the farmer judges the coffee ready to wash when the slime has turned grainy and it feels “right”. The beans are thoroughly washed in long canals—a process that also allows for the damaged beans to be separated from the heavier healthy beans. Of course, all this takes copious amounts of water—a commodity we have an abundance of.
As an old neighbor used to say: dry season is clean but poor; wet season is dirty but rich. So it is that we fight the mud in our harvest. However, as you can see in the pictures, there are simple ways to produce a clean product. Several sacks on the ground keep the coffee out of the mud, and with diligence and care, a quality product can be produced.