At the end of the coffee picking day when the temperature cools, coffee cherries that have been picked between 16-20 brix degrees are brought to the wet mill to begin processing.
First, the coffee cherries are placed in a tank filled with water that recirculates through a channel. Along the channel there are multiple spots to place wood blocking to prevent the more dense coffee cherries which sink to the bottom from being taken downstream with the current. The cherries that float are considered less dense and of lower quality, they are paddled along the channel and collected for either the producer's personal use or sold as commodity grade. By having multiple stages of blocking, coffee producers can control the density and the qualities of their coffee better. La Finca Distribution Corp. only purchases the most dense coffee beans we can acquire from each specific lot.
During the natural process, coffee cherries are not pulped after picking; they remain intact with the bean, increasing the amount of sugars absorbed during the following processes. The natural process has the least negative environmental impact of all the post-harvest processes, because there is no wastewater or "honey water" being returned back into the waterways.
After the floating process, natural processed coffee is occasionally placed in barrels to ferment for 8-36 hours, depending on the varietal and temperature. In some cases, naturals are not fermented at all and are laid out to dry immediately after the float. During this process the coffee becomes much sweeter, yeast and bacteria break down the sugars in the coffee adding to the complexity of the final cup.
Coffee beans are trucked out to the dry mill after the float or fermentation and are placed on drying beds for 14-30 days until 12%-10% moisture has been achieved. It is at this time the coffee is pulped without water and bagged in parchment to rest for 45 days in the bodega.