Nearly all of the HG coffees have been harvested and processed, and nearing February 1st, their one month resting period in the warehouse has finished, meaning that they will be hulled, bagged, and packed into containers for export.
Hulling is the process of removing the external parchment from the green coffee. This action is performed by machines within the warehouse of Beneficio El Manzano.
When coffee is harvested, there are essentially three layers of skin, surrounding the internal green bean, which is what will be roasted, ground, and brewed to prepare a cup of coffee.
The first layer is the fruity skin, or cherry, which is typically red, however, can be yellow or orange, depending on the variety of the coffee. With most processing methods, this layer of skin is stripped from the bean immediately after harvesting, by machines called vertical de-pulpers. (Description of these machines can be found here).
The second layer of skin, beneath the cherry, is called the mucilage layer, and is a sugary gelatin that surrounds the parchment. This layer is also, traditionally washed from the parchment, by a series of different methods. At Beneficio El Manzano, a machine called the mucilage remover is used to wash the mucilage from the parchment.
The third layer of skin, beneath both the mucilage and cherry is called parchment. At the time of processing, that parchment is wet, and holds tight to the internal bean, inseparable. The parchment is important throughout the drying process, as it protects the internal bean from being damaged by the sun. As the parchment dries however, it thins and becomes a loose shell around the bean, which will remain throughout the drying and storage process.
After the parchment dries to a moisture content of 10-12%, it is bagged to put within the warehouse to rest. At this stage in the process, coffee is referred to as parchment coffee, or pergamino.
The rest period lasts for at least a month, for the purpose of allowing the beans to develop to their full potential. While in this rest phase, internal characteristics within the beans are still settling from the period of processing and drying; that internally and chemically changed the entire dynamic of the bean. Coffees need this month long resting period, in order to develop fully, and produce the maximum quality in the cup.
After this period of resting, the parchment is entered into machines, where it will be stripped of its parchment, graded for density, and sorted according to its size