THE ART OF CONSUMING AND PRODUCING COFFEE FROM SEED TO CUP


SEED SELECTION:

Ipanema harvests its coffee beans from its very own trees that are highly productive, have high natural resistance against diseases and insects and a stabile and regular ripening period.

Seeds of coffee trees are actually the coffee beans themselves, which are used for roasting. Their differences rely in their type of selection and all the other processes which follow it. The beans are collected in the period between April and June. The ripe coffee berries are picked, washed and grounded (i.e. their shell and pulp are separated). Then they are dried until the humidity rate falls between 15-20%. At this point they get ready for plantation. The nursery trees and the “mother trees” are certified by IMA (Certification Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture) to guarantee both the quality of the seeds and proper plantation.


SEEDLING PRODUCTION:

Coffee is a durable plant which can be used up to 25 years. This is also why the most crucial action in coffee production is the plantation of qualitative saplings. The higher the quality of the sapling is, the more successful the coffee producer will be.

The location of the nursery garden is also always very important. The drainage of the field must be very good, it must be easily accessible, it must get plenty of sunlight and it must also be located somewhere near to the irrigation channels. In the next step, small seed bags, in which the seed is going to sprout and become a seedling, must be prepared. Special plastic seeding bags are filled with grated under soil, cattle manure and, for an optimum seeding, with phosphor and potassium based fertilizers.

The seed sowing time is between April and July and each bag contains two seeds. After 45 days, the better sprout in the bag is selected. This is followed by watering, insect, pest and disease control and fertilization. Until the shoots get ready for plantation, these operations are repeated several times. During this period, the sprouts get also acclimatized. When the shoots have three leaves and a healthy root system, those, which are not complying with quality standards, are eliminated.


PREPARATION OF THE SOIL AND PLANTATION:

Another key factor for a successful harvest is the preparation of the soil for proper plantation. Cleaning the residues of the previous plantations, deep soil dressing, adjusting the right gap between the shoots, right choice of location according to the sunlight both from south and north and soil protection techniques, are the key points which determine the quality of a field. The shoots are planted in the rainy season between November and January.

The shoots are planted carefully by hand, mostly by women. The mouths of the bags are ripped open and the shoots are placed into pre-prepared grooves. A perfect groove organization will ensure high fertileness until the end of usage.


PLANT CARE:

To reach optimum perfection in tree growth, activities like fertilization, pruning, weed control, insect and disease check, effective field hygiene, soil and leaf sampling must be conducted in the course of the year.

In the months of March and April, to balance the acid amount in the soil, lime and gypsum is mixed with the earth. While phosphor, potassium and azoth based liquid fertilization are done, reinforcements with micronutrients like zinc, boron and manganese must not be forgotten. These reinforcements should be performed in September, December and February in 3 phases. A well-nourished tree will be more durable against diseases. With a right nutrition management, there will also be a considerable decrease in the frequency of insect control operations.

If the micronutrients are applied by spraying, it will be easier and faster absorbed by the leaves and thus help the plant to protect itself against insects and fight against diseases. Leaf worms, leaf blotch and Phoma fungi are the most important problems, which are still being experienced in South Minas.

Pruning and budding take place in September and January. This helps the plant to reach its certain height for optimum fertileness.


BLOSSOMING:

Blossoming is a very important occasion for coffee trees. This happens generally 3 or 4 times between the months of September and November. As a result of blossoming (i.e. a successful sprouting and shooting period), small green berries called “chumbinho” are formed, which turn into coffee beans after 6 or 8 months. The more frequent blossoming is taking place, the easier will be their harvest. This affects also the quality of the coffee bean.


HARVEST PREPARATION:

Coffee berries reflect the quality of the whole coffee tree. Therefore the producer has to collect the berries as fast and efficient as possible. As the preparation for the harvest, in the months of March and April, sere leaves, branch particles, that have fallen on the field and the digitaria around the tree must be cleaned out.


HARVEST:

The harvest season usually begins end of April and continues until August. The ripeness of the berries determines the frequency of the harvest. When 80% of the berries on a tree ripen, it is ready to be harvested.

In cases where the coffee beans are picked by hand, the collector spreads out a polypropylene sheathing underneath the tree and throws the picked berries on it. Then the berries are separated from coffee leaves and small parts of branches through big hand colanders. In the end of the day the team chef grades the cleanness and the quality of the collected coffee berries. He also records the amount of coffee each collector has picked.

In mechanic harvests, on the other hand, vibrating fiberglass sticks are used to shake the branches of the trees. The coffee berries fall into the thresher machine and are filled into 1000 kg volume “big sacks” after being ventilated and sifted out in the machine. The thresher machine harvests all the trees one by one by moving forward through them.


SORTATION:

After the coffee berries have been picked, they are sent to the service area, where they are going to be sorted out. This step is very crucial regarding the quality of the coffee, because once the coffee berries stay longer than 4 hours in a “big sack” they begin to ferment. Therefore they have to be separated as soon as possible after the harvest.

In order to get a qualitative product, after the coffee beans are transported to the service area, they go through different kinds of processes according to the type of the end product. As soon as they arrive at the service area, the sacks are emptied and the coffee berries are ventilated so that they can be separated from the remaining leaves and branch particles. Later the beans are put into the wet grinder to clean them from gravel, stone and soil particles. The green beans and the red berries are separated using the buoyancy of water.

While the lighter coffee beans stay at the surface of the water, the heavier ones sink to the bottom. At this point the “Boias” (i.e. the ones that swim) are first collected and sent to the drying basins and dried there for 3 days. In the end of the 3rd day, these beans are filled into mechanical driers and dried in them for 36 hours. Thus the drying process is concluded.

Then the green beans (unripe) and the red berries are sent to pulping machines. Here, the green beans and the berries are separated from each other using mechanic pressure and centrifuge methods.

The pulp of the red berries is later used as fertilizer and soil supplement. The green beans, on the other hand, are sent to drying basins, where they are kept for at least 5 days, and afterwards they are put through a mechanical drying process. The coffee, which is obtained through the second type of process, is only used in the local consume.

After being pulped, there is only a slimy layer of mucilage left on the coffee bean. After this point, one of the following 2 processes can be applied. In the first process, the coffee beans are directly sent to the drying basins and dried mechanically after having been left there for 4 days. This process is called the semi-washed process.

In the second process, the slimy layer is separated in aerobic fermentation tanks. The coffee, which has been rinsed for 24 hours in water tanks, is later sent to the drying basins. The beans are dried here for 3 days and then sent to the mechanical dryers.

In the end of this process, washed coffee is produced. All these processes are done under the surveillance of a control officer. This officer determines according to the physical condition and the grasping features of the beans, for which coffee type they are more suitable. This way, in every load maximum quality is guaranteed.

When the humidity rate falls under 12%, the beans are carried into wooden warehouses and rest there for 2 months before being offered for sale.


REPEATED SORTATION AND PACKING:

The coffee, which has rested in wooden warehouses is once again separated and sifted. Electronic separators sort out defective or whitish coffee beans. After this very last sortation process, the coffee is packed and sent to its final destination, which can be a big coffee company or a small coffee shop anywhere on the globe.


ROASTING:

No matter where in the world or in what type of a climate the coffee beans are going to be consumed, they must be roasted. To roast coffee, the heat must be increased rapidly and as a result of this the humidity of the coffee must be decreased to 3%. The roasting process may either cover or highlight many features of the coffee bean, which reveal its quality. But one thing is for sure: it determines the characteristic of the beverage.

Different types of roasting are applied in different markets. These features constitute the distinct specialties of each brand. After the roasting process, the coffee must be put into a resting period called “de-gas”, which enables the coffee beans to decompose from the gases in themselves. Finally the coffee is packed according to its intended purpose (e.g. espresso, filter, French Press, etc.).