When ripe, the coffee cherries are picked and go through an initial flotation sorting to remove underripes, sticks, and general debris before passing through a pulping machine and working their way down the washing channels to the fermentation tanks. Here, they will sit for typically 8-14 hours, before moving to the drying patios or guardiolas for controlled drying down to 10-12% moisture. Typically in Colombia, this is carried out on the farm, with processed cherries then being taken to a dry mill for careful grading, tasting, and blending. The coffee is stored in parchment until ready for export, when it is hulled at the dry mill and bagged for shipping. Bean sizes 15-16 are graded as Excelso.
Once picked, beans are shipped to our friends at Swiss Water Decaf in Vancouver, Canada, where they undergo soaking in fresh water ready to remove the caffeine. Swiss Water® is the innovative craft of using pure water to gently remove caffeine. The 100% chemical free process decaffeinates coffee in small batches.
This process involves an internally developed Green Coffee Extract (GCE) which is introduced to the beans and caffeine removal begins. Caffeine ventures out on its own, away from the coffee beans into the GCE until the ratio of soluble compounds in the GCE to the compounds in the coffee reach the point of equilibrium. Caffeine and GCE flow continuously through their proprietary carbon filters until all the caffeine is trapped and separated from the GCE. Then the GCE is refreshed so that it can be used again and again to remove more caffeine. For 10 hours the coffee is monitored for temperature, flow rate and caffeine before it finally becomes 99.9% caffeine free.