In the last post we described a visit to an organic coffee cooperative in Guatemala. In addition to the economic lessons we drew from the cooperative experience, we also saw how drying often happens in a developing economy.
At La Voz there is no need for a Dryer Master computerized drying control system at this time because the cooperative does not even have a coffee bean dryer. This is a situation that is mirrored in many smaller scale operations in the developing world for a whole variety of crops. The cooperative’s coffee is all sun dried in an open area right next to where it is washed and cleaned.
The actual harvest extends over a long period running from November to March, which coincides with the dry season in the region. During this period rainfall is almost unheard of and the cooperative can take advantage of almost constant day time sunshine to dry the beans outdoors on a drying pad, a process that takes about 5 days. As the harvest occurs over an extended period it is possible to use a relatively small area to dry all the beans harvested.
Once the beans are dried they are hand sorted by women from the cooperative, to ensure that the ones headed for export are top quality. The beans are then bagged in burlap sacks and shipped to the capital where they are processed to remove the parchment skin and then repacked for export from the Pacific Coast to the end customers in Japan, California and Alaska.