Our Head Roaster, Kosuke visited two beautiful coffee farms (Sumio and Doi Tung farm) during this amazing trip. What a wonderful way to start this year!
We've learned a lot from the coffee farmer, processor, and every part behind the beautiful coffee that we make every day.
Let us share the great experience we had!
The first farm we visited was Sumio Farm in Mae Jan Tai. It is a relatively small-sized farm, run by Mr.Sinthop and his family, and they ship out about 10,000 tonnes of coffee every year (Their beans are also used in our house blend at Kurasu Bangkok. )
With the guidance of Mr. Sinthop, we got to see the environment where coffee cherries grow—they’re all over the mountain.
Sumio Farm doesn’t have any separated plots for different kind of crops. The mountain is home to wild coffee cherries, kumquats, plums, bananas, cacao, and cinnamon. While we were walking through the mountain, the temperature dropped drastically. Growing in this cold environment, some coffee cherries get frozen at night, and some are even freeze to death. However, as an organic cultivation farm, Mr. Sinthop does not do any special treatment to protect the cherries.
The second farm we visited was Doi Tung, a large farm and refinery near the border with Myanmar. Known as Doi Tung Coffee domestically, they handle everything from cultivation, harvesting, refining, roasting and commercializing coffee cherries.
This farm was started as a national project by the government to solve the poverty problem of the Akha tribe, a hill tribe living in this area since ancient times. During the 30 years leading up to 2017, the government-led system was established and the farm is now operating independently.
At Doi Tung Farm, we had a chance to experience picking, sorting, and pulping the coffee cherries.
-First of all we picked the cherries. We were given a chart that shows a different levels of how ripe the cherries are, and picked as we checked it.
-The next step is sorting. The harvested cherries were put in a bucket filled with water, and any low-density, defective beans (called "floaters") were taken out. Normally in Doi Tun, this process is all done by machine. 100 cherries will be picked randomly and the producers check the ratio of green cherries and cherries which are too ripe. This will be reported to the pickers each time, to help them improve their picking.
- After removing the defect beans, cherries are passed through a pulper to be peeled to seeds.
- Imagine peach and its stone to get some idea about how green beans are with mucilage. There is a pulp-like skin covering the seed, which is very hard to remove. To remove mucilage, producers put coffee beans in a fermenter for several days until the mucilage is broken down by microorganisms. Once the beans are put in the fermenter, sweetness immediately starts to come out, but the acidity takes it a little slower. After spending a few days in the fermenter, and by the time the mucilage is completely degraded, the wonderful acidity finally starts to show.
Picking only well-ripened cherries took more time and effort than we expected. There are also a number of processes that follow to achieve clean coffee, such as subsequent machine weight sorting and handpicking.
We had such a great experience at Doi Tung Farm, learned the production process of coffee, from harvesting to cup!
In this farm trip, we learned about the coffee production process in detail, especially from harvest to shipping.
“I had some ideas about the process by reading books and watching videos before this trip. However, I had not realized how steep the farm is, how hard it is to actually pick cherries.”— Kosuke said.
In the back of a cup of delicious coffee, producers need to go through simple but tedious tasks. The trip reminded all of us that the clean and fruity coffee we get to enjoy in Japan is based on such efforts.
We hope that through this report, we’re not only sharing the information but also what we experienced, what we felt during this amazing trip!
If you would like to know more about this trip, talk to Kosuke when you see him in the cafe next time;)