The coffee that is to be decaffeinated comes from the Siruma coffee farmers’ association. The cooperative currently has 92 families who farm an average of 1 hectare of land. They traditionally have a mix of varieties such as Castillo and Caturra on their farms.
In addition to technical support, Siruma also provides training programs for its farmers and pays them 9.5% more above the current market value in a given year. USAID, which is the initial donor to this cooperative, led by local women, holds the hand of the entire project together with Falcon speciality coffee.
Each farmer must submit at least 17 bags of exportable coffee a year in order to be included in the program. In order to be able to reach this amount, farmers are trained in sensory, coffee tree planting techniques or how cultivating techniques influence taste profile.
Before the actual processing of coffee to be decaffeinated, the beans must be processed by the classic washed method. After harvest, the coffee is depulped and fermented in tanks for 8-12 hours. Finally, it is washed and dried for 14 days in parabolic dryers or on covered roof terraces.
The way of processing coffee to become decaffeinated is completely natural. Sugarcane ethyl acetate is used to wash caffeine away from the beans.
In the first step, the coffee is steamed at low pressure to remove silver skin residues that remain on the beans after wet processing. It is then moistened with hot water to swell and soften the grains. This first step is the preparation for the hydrolysis of caffeine, which is bound to the chlorogenic acid salts in coffee.
The coffee is washed again with natural ethyl acetate solvent,to reduce the caffeine down to the correct levels. The beans are subsequently cleaned of residual solvent by a stream of low-pressure steam. It is then dried in vacuum tumble dryers.
The coffee is then rapidly cooled to ambient temperature by a fan before the final step of the carnauba wax, which is applied to polish and provide protection from ambient conditions and to ensure stability. From there, the coffee is packed in 35 kg bags ready for export.
Castillo is an artificially created variety that is popular especially in Colombia. Almost two decades ago, it replaced most of the variants that were affected by a disease called coffee rust. Today, it is popular mainly for its disease resistance and high yields. Some roasters argue no less that its taste, especially the typical finish, are often not very good, and therefore there is a debate about the variety.
Caturra is a dwarf natural hybrid of bourbon. The first mentions and found plants are sometime in the mid-1950s. in Brazil. Farmers quickly fell in love with it because of its small stature, as they were able to plant a larger number of plants in a smaller area and thus increase the profitability of farms.
Caturra has a great taste profile, unfortunately it is very susceptible to disease and that is why it was replaced in Colombia by the aforementioned Castillo.