Coffee drying is more than just a process to improve the quality and flavour of the beans, it’s one of the longest processes in post-harvest production and a step that can't be skipped. No matter how coffee is processed at some point, it needs to be dried.
The time spent on this step can vary depending upon many factors such as weather conditions and processing method; but for most natural sun-dried coffees, like those produced by Belvico, there are typically three different timelines. Read more below.
HOW WE DRY OUR HONEY PROCESSED COFFEES
The drying process for honey processed coffees is different from the traditional drying methods in that sense that part or all of the fruity flesh stays on the skin while drying naturally in the sun. Leaving the fruit on the bean allows them to "raisin-ify".
The drying process begins when a farmer decides which type of bean he wants to produce: yellow, red or black. After this decision has been made the wet beans are laid out to dry on elevated beds for a specific time.
Two main factors - temperature and airflow- will determine moisture levels and thus how long green coffee beans need to be dried.
- YELLOW HONEY PROCESSED BEANS
Yellow honey processed beans have about 25% of fruit left on the bean before drying. They are dried at a maximum temperature of 60⁰C and are stirred every six hours until they reach the perfect moisture level. Stirring of the beans is necessary to prevent the beans from fermenting and molding.
This process generally takes up four to 7 seven days.
- RED HONEY PROCESSED BEANS
Red honey processed beans have about 50% of the pulp left before drying. They are dried at a lower temperature than yellow honey processed beans; 50°C max. Stirring of the beans is done every hour for the first two days and every four hours after that.
Total drying time for red honey processed beans ranges from ten to 15 fifteen days.
- BLACK HONEY PROCESSED BEANS
Black honey processed beans will have as much as possible pulp left on the bean when they are dried. The maximum drying temperature for these beans is 40⁰C. Stirring is necessary every 30 minutes for the first three days because the risk of fermentation and molding is much higher with so much wet, fruity flesh still left on the cherries. After that, stirring is done every hour.
The total drying time takes approximately 15 to 21 days.
Throughout the entire drying process, we keep a close eye on the humidity of our greenhouses to avoid molding of the beans. Before drying, levels are usually between 40 and 50% and will be reduced to anywhere from 11% to 12% to ensure a safe drying environment.
HOW OUR FARMERS PERFECT SUN-DRYING TO DECREASE RISKS
Sun-drying coffee is an intense process that requires more manpower than the traditional way of drying coffee beans. On top of that, there are a few factors like uncontrolled fermentation, animal contamination and unfavorable weather conditions, that can have an impact on the final cup quality.
Yet, thanks to our nifty farmers and their hands-on experience we have found a way to minimize these risks without compromising our high-quality standards. At Belvico we dry our beans in greenhouses and keep them on elevated drying beds to ensure optimum airflow, shorten drying times and make it easy to filter out any debris. This way, our beans dry evenly and cleanly.
While honey processed coffees produce a more complex cup of coffee that is desirable by many roasters, the complexity also comes with some extra steps in processing. To achieve the best results, beans need to be dried at an optimal temperature and humidity level. As such, the post-harvest timeline for this type of coffee can be longer.
At Belvico Coffee our greenhouses ensure that each batch of beans is dried under strictly controlled conditions, leaving our customers with consistent quality.