Colombia – Monte Bonito Decaf
The small town of Monte Bonito sits on the road between Manizales and Honda. Bordering the slopes of the Cerro Bravo it has a population of less than a thousand inhabitants. The town still holds onto the traditions of the campesinos (peasant country farmers) and provides a living view into the history of farming life in the high Andes of Colombia. The town has a tumultuous history being heavily affected by the civil war – three times it has been taken over by the FARC in its past.
Most of the coffee growers from this region, are very small with only between 1 – 3 hectares each, so they group together to help each other. In this group there are 89 associates but they are responsible for the full management of their own farms and pick the coffee themselves, only asking for help from their neighbours when needed.
During the harvest the coffee is picked, depulped and left to ferment for between 16 to 18 hours. The next day the coffee is washed ready for drying. Some of the farmers have ´´Eldas¨(drying areas on the roof of their house), others have ¨carros quindianos´´ (drying beds on a moving rail system ) and the rest have parabolic tents for drying the coffee for between 10 -14 days depending on the climate. After this the coffee is delivered to the Manizales Cooperative collection point in town. Here it is assessed and separated according to quality and the producers receive additional payments for producing good quality beans. There is also an extra premium for producers who deliver the coffee to the Cooperative wit a moisture content below 11%. From the collection point the coffee then travels to the cooperative warehouse in Manizales where it is stored.
In addition this coffee has been decaffeinated using The Sugar Cane Decaf Process – First the coffee undergoes steaming at a low pressure to remove its silver skin before being moistened with hot water to allow the beans to swell and soften. This prepares the coffee for the hydrolysis of the caffeine. Extractors (naturally occurring ethyl acetate, which is obtained from the fermentation of sugar cane) are then used to wash the moistened coffee beans several times to reduce the caffeine down to the correct levels.
Once this process is finished the coffee is cleaned with low pressure steam to remove any remaining extractors before moving onto the final steps. From here the coffee is sent to vacuum drying drums where the water previously used to moisten the beans is removed and the coffee is dried. The coffee is then cooled quickly to ambient temperature using fans before carnauba wax is applied to polish and provide the coffee with protection against environmental conditions while helping to provide stability. From here, the coffee is the packed into bags ready for export.