How is it produced?
Coffee is a perennial crop, started from seeds and the plant starts bearing fruit after four years. The lifecycle of the plant can extend beyond 40 years. Generally, coffee blooms once a year and this begins in October and ends in March. This is called the coffee cycle.
However, because of its unique landscape, the Dominican coffee plants often bloom a second time.
Flowering depends on many factors such as plant care, regulating shade, plant age. The first fruits start to appear when the plant is three to four years old.
The Collection or Harvesting
Ripe cherries are harvested by hand to maximize the amount of ripe coffee harvested. It is necessary to selectively pick the ripe coffee beans from the tree by hand and leave behind unripe, green beans to be harvested at a later time.
Harvesters tie collection baskets at the waist called “backpacks” and they are then emptied into larger bags. The collection of coffee beans is a long and painstaking process.
Following the harvest, the grains are first treated by a laborious method water-based cleaning and then they are pulped and fermented to remove the mucilage membrane. This phase is very delicate since an unfermented bean will produce an astringent taste. The “wet method” requires removing the pulp from the coffee cherry within 24 hours of harvesting. The wet mill is the process used in the Dominican Republic. The beans are put in fermentation tanks for 12 to 48 hours. Natural enzymes loosen the slimy parenchyma from the parchment covering. The beans are then dried on drying patios.
A pulping machine washes away the skin and pulp
Measuring moisture content
After going through the fermentation process the coffee is washed with clean water and then drained. Afterwards, the coffee is dried to obtain a 12% moisture. The drying time varies depending on the zones. A coffee moisture meter is used to measure coffee bean moisture. Coffee must be dried from approximately 60% moisture content to 11-12% moisture content.
Beans are then graded and sorted, first by size, then by density. Beans are sorted by hand as they pass by on a conveyer belt separating lighter (inferior) beans from heavier ones.
The large-area patios or sundecks are disappearing and are often replaced with automated airing/drying machines. The advantage of using large drying yards in various communities is to harness the natural energy source from the sun. The independent farmers do so on their own property and their costs are low. Coffee is typically dried on large patios made of asphalt or cement. The coffee on the drying patios is shifted every 30-40 minutes and is shaped into long rows of no more than 5 cm in height. Next to each row is open ground, which is warmed and dried by the sun. The coffee is then shifted onto the dry portion of the patio, and the section where it was previously is now allowed to dry in the sun. This helps accelerate the coffee drying process and prevents fermentation and moldy beans from developing. This is the method we continue to use. Drying coffee solely by patio takes 6-7 days.
The Toast or Roast
Green coffee is roasted to allow the flavor and the aroma to bloom. In the process of roasting, coffee beans lose weight. The degree of roasting depends on the type of coffee to be obtained. Roasting coffee beans requires much care and know-how that only years of experience and traditional methods are capable of performing.
Equitable Benefits, Sustainable Sourcing, Long Term Partnership
Supporting Community Farmers
Café Santo Domingo Community Farmers
Café Santo Domingo Community Farmers are closely linked to the success of the 300 Dominican farmers who help grow Café Santo Domingo coffee. Café Santo Domingo is continually involved in projects for their communities, in education (classroom, library) and in the improvement of their living conditions (hygiene, water supply). Café Santo Domingo looks for high-quality coffee that is responsibly grown and ethically traded, while promoting social, economic and environmental standards. Café Santo Domingo believes that it helps foster a better future for the farmers and their families. Café Santo Domingo farmers are paid above indexed trade prices and continually provide our local farmers with resources and expertise that can help lower their costs, improve the long-term sustainability of their farms, reduce pest and disease, improve coffee quality and increase their yield of premium coffee.