Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Journey To Your Cup

How does your Ometepe coffee get into your cup?  Yes, you pour it in, all bleary eyed in the morning and then emerge your cheerful self after a few sips, but before that I mean?  How does that delicious Ometepe java make it's way from the coffee bushes on Ometepe Island to you?  When you think about it there's a lot of hands helping you get that aromatic brew into your cup.

Ometepe coffee is grown on the side of  an extinct volcanic mountain in rich, volcanic soil. The Arabica beans begin as small red "cherries" that ripen intermittently.   Because the coffee fruit does not ripen all at once it must be picked several times during the season, which lasts from November to mid January.  The cherries are hand picked and carried down the mountain side to the processing plant.  The outer pulp is fermented off  and the inner beans spread on concrete slabs in the sun to dry.  The pulp is composted and returned as fertilizer to help next season's harvest.

The beans  are then carefully picked over by hand, graded for size and uniformity and bagged in 70 kilo units.  Ometepe beans and those for BOSIA (Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association) are gathered together and picked up by a shipping company and put into a container. The container makes its way to a port  and is shipped to either Seattle or Vancouver.  There the bags are inspected by customs and  moved to a coffee warehouse in Richmond where they are put on pallets (10 bags to a pallet) shrink wrapped and shipped to our roaster/storage facilities at Serious Coffee in Duncan.  They remain there until we order a roast.  To create the coffee that you have come to know and love we have carefully chosen our roasting temperature - usually 475 deg F for dark roast, and 455 for medium.  Seventy-six  pounds are roasted at a time, taking about 12 - 15 minutes.

Because the beans have been so carefully picked over and sized they contain no debris and don't require cleaning.  The result is a  very uniform  and predictable roasting. Volunteers from the Salt Spring Ometepe Group do the rest.  They pick up the coffee from the roaster, bag it, deliver it to the stores that carry it, and sell both brewed and bagged coffee at the Saturday market.  And so next time you look at your bag of beans or take a sip of that fragrant brew you can imagine the journey that your coffee has taken to get to your cup.

(with thanks to Brian Finnemore for the details!)

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