After many months of waiting, constructing, and prepping, the installation is complete, and the time has come to unload the first batch of coffees from the new horizontal mechanical dryer.
It was a late night Tuesday, finishing the prep for the new dryer; testing the bucket elevator, loading the furnace, hauling the coffees, but by 3 am, the dryer was finished loading, and ready to begin its first cycle of HG coffees at Beneficio El Manzano.
Loading coffees into a horizontal dryer is similar to the process of a vertical dryer, doing so initially into a hopper which feeds a bucket elevator; however, within a horizontal dryer, that bucket elevator feeds the coffee into one primary cylinder, where they will remain for the entire duration of the drying process, opposed to coffees within a vertical dryer, which are fed into a cylinder, that then cycles the coffee throughout the machine, bringing the coffees into direct contact with the heat, only at bottom of the cylinder.
The horizontal dryer contains a series of latched doors, spanning the entire length of the cylinder. As the coffees exit out of the bucket elevator, those doors are opened, allowing the coffees to pass from the tubes of the elevator, into the primary cylinder of the dryer.
A horizontal dryer, operates under much simpler conditions, cycling the coffees throughout one cylinder, allowing paddles within the cylinder, to circulate the coffees, as it rotates. Meanwhile, hot air is circulated throughout the machine, via an internal perforated cylinder, running directly from the furnace. In this manner, coffees are not only circulated throughout the machine, but come into direct contact with the heat source, for the entire duration of the drying process. This allows for much shorter drying times, and therefore a much more efficient operation.
After the correct number of hours in the dryer, the coffees are ready to be unloaded. This works in a similar fashion to the loading process. When coffees have completed the drying process, and are at a moisture content of 11.5%, the panel of doors are cycled to the top of the cylinder, where they are unlatched and opened. The cylinder is then circulated, allowing the coffees to spill out into a hopper, directly beneath the cylinder, as the doors reach the bottom of the cycle.
This hopper, like the loading process, feeds the same bucket elevator, which then distributes the dried parchment coffee into an external hopper, from which they can be bagged, and brought to the warehouse to rest.
As the dryer was unloaded today, we breathe deep again, looking forward to things to come. It has been a patient road up to this point, but the new patio is only days from being completed, and the new dryer is working well, thereby we are able to anticipate with excitement, the heaviest period of the harvest very quickly approaching.