A few weeks ago Tracey and I were part of a large tour of the Oro Verde Cooperative not far from Lamas in the San Martin region of Peru. This was the main event for Day 3 of Sustainable Harvest’s “Let’s Talk Coffee” gathering of stakeholders across the supply chains they manage. Although we had missed the coffee harvest, it was still quite an enjoyable visit. One thing in particular that fascinated me was the “biodigester” that I will explain in the images presented below:
Welcome to Coop Ore Verde and Let's Talk Coffee's Field Trip!
Upon our arrival at the Coop we were treated to some "traditional" Lamas coffee. The dry cherries were hulled from the beans by hand and the coffee was slow roasted over coals. We were all convinced that modern processing tools are a very good thing indeed.
One of the first stops on the tour was a demonstration of the "biodegister" they use to process compost and harvest fuel for cooking meals...
Here you can see the two main bags of the biodigester. The organic waste from the house and the farm goes into the big one on the ground through an access as the left side. Over a period of months the waste is processed by microbiota. A biproduct of this digestion is the creation of methane and sulphur dioxide...
This makeshift pressure gauge tells the family the pressure of the gas in the system. Also, iron scrap nails inside these tubes react with the sulphur dioxide to create odourless byproducts, eliminating the foul smell of the gases.
The gases are funneled into this stove. The whole system allows farmers to compost effectively AND to cook a warm meal every day at no marginal energy cost, without the need to harvest firewood.
If they need to turn up the heat on the stove to "high", all they have to do is push this log off the ledge. It will squeeze the gas bag and increase gas pressure to the stove.
Next we moved along to the Ore Verde processing mill. Here they perform dry milling of coffee and cocoa.
David Griswold of Sustainable Harvest talks about how they are developing mobile technology for iphones that will allow for sophisticated management of the coffee supply chain from the point of cherry collection to the retailer. Very exciting.
I found something cool inside a bunch of coffee leaves...
We also got to see and taste cocoa being processed from raw pods all the way through to dry fermentation. It's quite cool to taste the transformation from sour and nasty off the tree to chocolately and delicious on the drying patio.
Coffee stored and ready for export
Back at the conference area, Tracey and I judged the Single Origin Espresso competition. A Yirgacheffe from Klatch Coffee in San Dimas, CA won.
The baristas, as usual, were up to no good. In this case the World Latte Art Champion attempts to pour a heart into Raul Rodas' (Guatemalan Champ and #2 in the World) mouth.
After it all we were treated to the Guatemalan version of "The Musical Ride" -- complete with risk of trampling.