After harvesting is done, the harvest is taken to the mill; Beans are poured into a large bin with a V-shaped groove on the bottom. Water is poured into the bin forcing beans through the narrow groove on the bottom into the milling equipment. The water creates such a strong force that the coffee cherry breaks open and separates the husk. This also separates out cherry pulp and the mucilaginous layer, (a coating that is sweet and honey-like).
Removal of cherry pulp (skin)
Using the most environmentally sensitive milling equipment, only water and gravity are used to force the beans through the machinery. In an effort to also conserve water, the shell will be removed without the use of water.
Discarding of the pulp (skin)
The pulp of the bean is now ready to be made into compost. Worms process the compost from the pulp of the bean. The pulp is used with other wastes in compost to make a more complete fertilizer.
A fermentation process is used to remove the mucilaginous (sticky) layer around the coffee bean. Beans are moved by water to fermentation bins. Fermentation takes between 24 to 48 hours. This process is done the old-fashioned way, using a wooden stick to stir the beans so it can be determined when this process is completed. Temperature and humidity are key in determining how long it takes. The fermentation bins are cleaned after each batch.
Washing the beans
Following the fermentation process the beans are pushed by water through many channels and finally over a concrete waterfall. After all the bouncing around any of the mucilaginous layer that may have remained after fermentation process will be stripped away.
Disposal of the honey water
The mucilaginous layer (a sweet honey water) is a waste product. It cannot be poured into the local waterways because it can cause severe contamination. Honey water can be recycled and decontaminated in the bio-digestor tanks producing natural gas to be used in the estate kitchens. The remaining water is now pure used irrigate the cattle pastures in the dry season.
At the end of the washing process
Grading of the coffee is very important and can be done during the washing process. Beans are poured into a channel and after going through the waterfall, the heavier beans sink to the bottom. The heavier the bean the higher quality and Nicaraguan coffee from Nectar of Life is recognized as one of the best organic coffee in the world. Only the heaviest beans are good enough to make the cut and used for our coffee. The “floater” beans drift along on the surface of the water and gather at the end of the channel. The beans are dried and sold to other coffee makers that don’t mind using the inferior beans in their brands.