MEET THE FARMS

Share the love


Origin Vocabulary

Density Channels at the Wet Mill
Image

What the Terms mean

Terms such as coffee farm, wet-mill, and washing station are often used when talking about coffee 'at origin'. Here is a basic overview of what these terms mean in Yunnan, China.

Coffee farm refers to the area where coffee trees are cultivated. Smallholder farms sell coffee cherries directly to an intermediary or another farm. Cooperative-style farms share processing and drying facilities. Plantation-style farms have their own processing and drying facilities.

Wet-mill refers to the place where the first stage of processing takes place after the cherry leaves the tree. Under typical circumstances, coffee cherries begin processing within 8-12 hours of being harvested. We think that a wet-mill can refer to the 'stage of processing' rather than the process. For example, Naturals can be processed at a wet-mill without using any water.

The main activity of the wet-mill is to dry the seed to a stable moisture level (approximately 10-12 %) so that it can be stored or transported to the next stage of processing at the dry-mill. For commercial coffees, the main focus of the wet-mill is to achieve shelf stability. For specialty coffee, quality control considerations are also crucial.

Washing station refers to the same thing as a wet-mill. However, a washing station is typically used to describe a centralized wet-mill where multiple coffee farms such as smallholders or cooperatives sell their coffee cherries.

YUNNAN WASHING STATIONS


  • Washing Station: Banka
  • Coffees: Banka, Badoo
  • Manager: Mr Chen (Yunnan Coffee Traders)
  • Region: Menglian, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Pacamara, Yellow Bourbon
  • Processing: Washed, Natural, Honey
  • Drying: Patio, Raised Beds
  • MASL: 1250
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 20 tons

In 2014, some of China's first large-volume specialty-grade coffee was produced at Banka in partnership with Pablo & Rusty's Specialty Roasters (Australia). This coffee can now be found in roasters across the globe!

Banka is also home to one of our first micro-lots, known as Badoo Natural. The coffee from this lot is generally superior in sweetness to any other coffee in the region. In fact, Eli Ramirez used coffee from Badoo during the 2017 USBC.

In 2018 Lucia Solis supervised some experimental controlled fermentation here using ORO yeast.

Processing Information

Washed coffees are first pulped and then dry-fermented for 18 hours. Next, they are run through density channels before being spread out on drying patios for approximately 5-8 days.

Natural coffees are hand-picked, run through a (wet) optical color sorter, and then fermented in cherry for two days. Finally, they are spread and dried on raised beds inside a parabolic dryer or alongside the drying patio.


Fuyan Washing Station
  • Washing Station: Fuyan
  • Coffees: Fuyan
  • Manager: Mrs Na and Mr Li
  • Region: Menglian, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Typica
  • Processing: Washed, Natural, Honey
  • Drying: Patio
  • MASL: 1650
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 20 tons

Mr Li and Mrs Na co-manage the washing station at Fuyan. Alongside the great coffee, Fuyan also produces about 7 tons of specialty-grade tea.

Mr Li and Mrs Na take a lot of pride in their work, which is one of the reasons this farm consistently produces some of the best coffee in the region. In 2017, Fuyan coffee placed 3rd in the "Best of Yunnan" competition. Again in 2018, Fuyan coffee placed in the top three coffees.

We have worked with this farm for many years and continue to be inspired by their innovations and desire to learn.

PROCESSING INFORMATION

Washed coffees pass through a mechanical de-mucilator (50 % removal) and are then dry-fermented. Next, they are run through density channels before being spread out on drying patios for approximately 7-10 days. 

Natural coffees employ a traditional patio-drying method for 5-8 days.


  • Washing Station: Kaku
  • Coffees: Kaku
  • Manager: Mr Li
  • Region: Menglian, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Not in operation
  • Processing: Washed, Natural
  • Drying: Patio
  • MASL: 1400
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 20 tons

The farm is owned by a second-generation coffee farmer who is passionate about building upon the family legacy.

Mr Li is a pillar in the local coffee industry, having one of the few coffee farms in Menglian that has been able to weather the challenges of changing policies, fluctuating markets and the catastrophic frost of 1998.

The farm is deeply involved in the local community, assisting local families with education and medical needs. 

Processing Information

Washed coffees are first pulped and then dry-fermented for 18 hours. Cherries are then run through density channels before being spread out on concrete drying patios for approximately 10 days.

As of 2021, Natural coffees are also being produced at Kaku; hand-picked cherries are dried alongside the washed coffees on the drying patio, although drying times and turning rate are quite different.


Mangzhang Washing Station
  • Washing Station: Mang Zhang
  • Coffees: Mang Zhang
  • Manager: Mrs Li and Mr Hu
  • Region: Menglian, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Gesha, Pacamara, Typica, Bourbon
  • Processing: Washed, Natural
  • Drying: Patio, Raised Beds, Parabolic Dryer 
  • MASL: 1000
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 600 tons

Mangzhang Farm, owned and operated by a husband-wife partnership, is one of the longest-running coffee farms in Yunnan. 

Mr Hu is regarded as one of the foremost coffee growers in the region and is also an agronomist. He is regularly called upon to consult on other crops including mangos, avocados, and macadamias!

Mrs Li manages the drying patio and is also responsible for roasting and selling Mangzhang coffees in the domestic market.

Processing Information

Washed coffees are first pulped and then dry-fermented for 18 hours. Cherries are then run through density channels before being spread out on drying patios for approximately 5-8 days.

Natural coffees are first dried on patios or raised beds for approximately 3-4 days. Next, the cherries are sealed in bags until the fermentation cycle is complete (about three days). Finally, drying resumes on the patios or beds until the moisture levels reach approximately 12 %, which can take up to three weeks.


  • Washing Station: Ou Yang
  • Coffees: Ou Yang
  • Manager: Mr Ou
  • Region: Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Not in operation
  • Processing: Washed, Natural
  • Drying: Patio
  • MASL: 1350
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 5 tons

Our first partnership with O-Yang coffee farm was in 2017. The coffees were well received, including a successful launch with Square Mile Coffee in the UK.

O-Yang is named after its owner, Mr Ou, who is personally engaged with the coffee cultivation and processing.

O-Yang farm spans across the mountains of Pu’er in Yunnan.  In addition to producing great coffees, the farm also hosts a coffee experience centre that opened to the public in 2019.

Processing Information

Natural coffees are hand-picked and and then bagged for 2-3 days before being spread out to dry.  At 40 % moisture the coffees are then bagged again for another 4-5 days. This technique is known as a 'double-fermentation.' After the second fermentation, the coffee is spread out onto raised drying beds in a parabolic dryer for another 28 days.


  • Washing Station: Guiben
  • Coffees: Guiben
  • Manager: Mr Chen (Yunnan Coffee Traders)
  • Region: Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Pacamara, Bourbon
  • Processing: Natural, Honey, Washed
  • Drying: Raised Beds
  • MASL: 1620
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 8 tons

This is a very special farm for us because it is a project started in the village of our colleague, Tiancai. Tiancai joined the team as a roaster before moving into farm management.

As Tiancai's knowledge of specialty coffee has increased, so has his desire to do something unique with coffee on his family's land in Yiwu.

While volumes are still small, Yiwu coffees recently cupped at 85+ at Atlas Coffee Importers in the USA.

Processing Information

Natural coffees are dried on raised beds for 4-5 weeks.

Honey (Pulp-Natural) coffees are first dry-pulped and then spread thinly across raised beds for 2-3 days.  Next, the coffee is grouped into thicker layers and left to dry for another 25 days.


  • Washing Station: Dongka
  • Coffees: Dongka
  • Farmer: Mrs Na
  • Region: Menglian, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Not in operation
  • Processing: Washed
  • Drying: Patio
  • MASL: 1470
  • Harvest Period: Nov - Feb
  • Annual Yield: 400 tons

Dongka produces some of the most consistent specialty-grade washed coffees in the Menglian region.

In 2019, we helped Mr Lan to make modifications to the washing station with the aim of ensuring consistent quality even at larger volumes.

Processing Information

Washed coffees are first pulped and then fermented for 12-18 hours. Cherries are then run through density channels before being spread out on concrete drying patios for approximately 10 days.


  • Washing Station: Doogan
  • Coffees: Doogan
  • Manager: Mrs Luo
  • Region: Xishuangbanna, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Not in operation
  • Processing: Washed, Natural
  • Drying: Patio
  • MASL: 1400
  • Harvest Period: Nov-Feb
  • Annual Yield: 5 tons

In 2018, we were invited by the Xishuangbanna government to assist a nearby village to revive a dilapidated coffee farm. In addition to coffee, the government has launched successful partnerships with other local businesses to kickstart mushrooms and tea in the region.

The first harvest in 2020 was a great success and in 2021 the coffees sold out even before the season had ended.

Processing Information

Drying cherries is a challenge at Doogan as the drying space is limited.  Washed coffees are dried on location (patio) while Natural coffees are taken to a nearby location with raised beds.


  • Washing Station: Xin Gang
  • Coffees: Xin Gang
  • Farmer: Mrs Ye
  • Region: Menglian, Yunnan
  • Variety: Catimor
  • Nursery: Not in operation
  • Processing: Washed, Natural
  • Drying: Patio, Parabolic dryer, Raised beds
  • MASL: 1550
  • Harvest Period: Nov - Feb
  • Annual Yield: 20 tons

Xin Gang washing station is managed by a local Wa family. Mrs Ye and Mr Ai run the washing station while their daughter, Ms Zhao handles domestic sales.

In 2019, Xin Gang gained prominence in the UK, being picked up by roasters such as Square Mile and Girls Who Grind Coffee.

Due to its international success, it has become popular in the domestic market, commanding prices almost double the regional average.

Processing Information

Xin Gang experiments with a variety of processing techniques, however, most naturals are dried on raised beds in a parabolic dryer using general timing and moisture targets.


General Processing Information

Density Channels at the Wet Mill
Density Channels at the Wet Mill
Washed

The Washed process pulps, de-mucilages, ferments and washes coffee (in density channels) before drying it Recently, we have also been experimenting with the removal of mechanical de-mucilage from the Washed process and allowing mucilage to break down naturally through fermentation and washing. Other innovations include pre-cleaning and sorting of coffee cherries using flotation techniques and optical laser sorters.

Natural

The Natural process (skin-dried) skips the removal of pulp and mucilage; the coffee dries in its skin. Drying methods include greenhouses, parabolic dryers, full-sun drying on raised beds, mechanical static dryers, guardiolas, and patio drying. In Yunnan, raised beds are probably the most prevalent drying method for Naturals, but patio drying is also common.

Pulp-Natural (Honey)

The Honey process (mucilage-dried) only removes the pulp; the coffee dries in its mucilage. Drying methods are similar to those used for Natural coffees. Honey process coffees are not prevalent in Yunnan, although two winners in 2019 Best of Yunnan were Honey process.

For more information about the processing method used for a specific coffee, please visit our coffees page.