VISITING THE MILLS
Melanie picked me up to tour the wet and dry mills at Finca Bella Vista. Once you drive in, you’re greeted by coffee shrubs and its accompanying shade trees.
I had a brief moment to myself on the balcony overlooking Volcán de Agua, coffee groves, and the drying patio. Even on a typical cloudy Antigua day, it was very beautiful here.
We first took a tour of the wet mill where coffee is received, depulped, fermented, washed, and then dried. What was unique to me was that the fermentation period for their picked coffee was 15 hours. This is due to the altitude, 1500 masl, and the structural integrity of the room that was built to slightly increase the temperature. Melanie mentioned that if it was processed somewhere between 1600-1800 masl, then a 24+ hour fermentation period would be necessary.
They do consume quite a bit of water during processing, so their next goal is to continue figuring out ways to recycle water and cut water consumption.
Next was the greenhouse. The greenhouse was initially built as an experiment, and they found it served a better purpose for increasing the shelf life and space for their coffee. Inside the greenhouse, they have raised beds. When coffee is drying there, they have someone working that walks around and moves the beans around to promote even air circulation.
The greenhouse is ideal due to its ability to control temp and humidity, and it allows Finca Bella Vista to produce 3x its volume.
Next was the dry cylinder. The picture shows is the dry cylinder the mill uses for its macrolots. The dry cylinders they use for microlots, like the coffee we sell at Temple, are about a third of this size.
The drum is similar to a coffee roaster, but it instead injects hot air and maintains ~60% humidity.