Previously, we shared part of our agritourism experience at the renovated coffee plantation Hacienda Tres Angeles located in Adjuntas and Utuado, Puerto Rico. We continue sharing this experience in this article.
There is much more than climate, mountain height, soil minerals and proper maintenance of the coffee plantation when it comes to the production of coffee in Hacienda Tres Angeles.
The processing of the coffee fruits and beans in Hacienda Tres Angeles stands out in Puerto Rico, the United States and other countries according to Mr. Juan Meléndez, co-founder and co-owner of this coffee plantation. This engineer who joined the coffee industry three years ago proudly informed us that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) referred to this 100-acre farm as a state-of-the-art coffee processing facility. (“USDA Strike Force Team Tour Santa Isabel, Adjuntas”, usda.gov) The USDA National Resources Conservation Service has published that Hacienda Tres Angeles is one “example of how Puerto Rico’s coffee industry can take advantage of technologies to make energy efficiency improvements and process changes to ensure the quality of [its] coffee.” (“NRCS EnSave Partner to Save Energy in the Caribbean Area”, NRCS Caribbean Area April 2014 Newsletter)
During the tour, we not only had the opportunity to watch the coffee processing machinery, but also learned about the coffee processing in detail as explained by Mr. Meléndez.
First, the coffee fruits are weighed in a scale. As part of the humid processing, the coffee fruits are inserted in a machine that removes any leaves, branches and fruits around them such as oranges. Subsequently, the coffee fruits are immersed into a small water pool where a quality control process occurs. The machine separates grade 2 coffee fruits, which are processed by another machine.
The coffee fruits are absorbed by a water pump. A second flotation process occurs to guarantee the first flotation process. These coffee fruits go through the coffee pulping machine, where pressure is added so the red coffee husks are pressed to separate the coffee seeds (beans). Any unripe green coffee fruits that pass through the previous steps are set aside by the machine. Mr. Meléndez explained that the machine recognizes the unripe coffee fruits due to their elasticity characteristic which makes them gain back their shape when pressure is off. The unripe coffee fruits are processed separately as grade 2 coffee.
Afterwards, the coffee pulping machine removes the pulp in around 6-10 seconds, by adding friction against the coffee beans. Then the coffee beans are dried for 24 hours in the ovens at a low temperature to reach 11% moisture in accordance to standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Hacienda Tres Angeles uses additional machines that, without the need of water, process the dried coffee beans that reach 11% moisture and are ready to be roasted. These are known as parchment coffee (“café pergamino” in Spanish) or “white coffee”. During the tour, we had the chance to touch, feel and smell this coffee bean.
As Mr. Meléndez explained, one of the machines removes the white husk of these coffee beans, and polishes the beans to remove a silver thin lining. He stated that the resulting bean is known as “green coffee” in reference to its light green or olive green color. Then other machines classify the beans by size (5 different sizes) and by weight, put aside the broken, light or impure ones, classify the resulting beans by weight, and finally classify the beans by color. The purpose behind these classifications is to pack the coffee beans with the same characteristics in the same sack or bag so that each pack has similar roasted coffee beans.
As an energy-efficient practice, Mr. Meléndez stated that the white husk of the parchment coffee bean is used as combustible for the ovens. He explained that one quintal of these husks substitutes seven hours of oven propane gas.
Ecological practices also include the collection of rainwater through a water cistern on the ceiling of the coffee processing warehouse. Such water is used to transport the coffee fruits and beans within some of the machines, and to clean the machines.
At Hacienda Tres Angeles, coffee roasting is performed during five consecutive weekends. They select five coffee beans with different characteristics (i.e.: size, color) for their respective roasting, resulting in five different types of coffee, including their flavor.
At the coffee shop, we tasted coffee from beans that were roasted and grinded right in front of us. We had the chance to taste the flavor resulting from the “caracolillo” coffee bean. Mr. Meléndez explained that the typical coffee bean has two cotyledons, showing two halves of the bean. The “caracolillo” bean has only one cotyledon, which results in a stronger coffee flavor.
You may accompany your cup of coffee with fresh pastry such as a delicious carrot cake. The coffee shop is open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sundays from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. T.: 787-360-0019, 787-949-0468.
Hacienda Tres Angeles coffee is also sold in Princesa Gastrobar restaurant in Paseo La Princesa, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.