The coffee mill or, "beneficio" in Spanish, is the place
where the coffee cherry is transformed into the hard coffee
green beans that are sent around the world to roasters. The
Janson brothers ensure that at each step
this beneficio respects
the qualities that make a great estate coffee.
Since beans of various sizes, water content,
and density lead to varying flavors and quality, the process
at the Cafe Volcan Baru Beneficio focuses on selecting only
the ideal size, density, and humidity for the La Torcaza
Estate coffee beans.
Unlike many coffee farms that are hours away from the
processing facility or beneficio, La Torcaza Estate is only
a fifteen minute tractor ride away from the Cafe Volcan Baru
Beneficio. This reduces the chances that the cherries are
harmed prior to processing.
Once at the beneficio, traditional processing methods rather
than new technologies ensure that the beans are gently and
effectively selected. Under the watchful eyes of craft
people, the beans are depulped from the coffee cherry and
classified by density as they float in fresh spring water.
The lighter beans float while the denser, more developed
beans sink slowly At the end of the channels, there are
small tanks for three
classifications from that batch of coffee. An
experienced craft person manages the flow of the beans into
the different tanks.
To gently remove the mucilage, the Janson brothers have
chosen the old, traditional method of fermenting the beans
in the small tanks up to 36 hours. The coffee beans are then
washed by hand in a smaller water channel.
Each classification of clean beans is spread out separately
in open-air patios to be gently sun-dried for several days.
There the beans (protected by their hull or golden
parchment) are raked to expose them evenly to the mountain
sunlight. From the patios, the coffee beans are collected
and dried at low temperatures to ensure that they have the
right humidity. The beans are then aged in bags for a
minimum of 90 days to allow them to develop their smooth and
balanced flavor. This period is known as the 'reposo' and is
similar to the aging of wine in oak casks. These age-old
steps to develop the coffee's refinement are seldom used in
Most beneficios are trying to automate and
mechanize the different processing steps. Machines are being
used to replace sun drying and the fermentation process.
These commercial methods do not compare with the traditional
steps in preparing a specialty coffee.
Once ready for export, the beans are hulled to remove the
golden parchment or hull which surrounds the beans. The
green beans are then
sorted by size, and again by density to ensure ideal
uniformity. The final step is hand selection - a step rarely
undertaken due to high costs. Still, the Janson brothers
insist on hand selecting and removing those beans that look
defected in color and shape to ensure a coffee purity that
no machine can reproduce. The fact that La Torcaza Estate is
hand selected at least twice distinguishes it as one of the
world's most rigorously selected and cleanest tasting
Before the coffee is exported, coffee samples are roasted
and cupped on the farm to make sure that they represent the
quality that is La Torcaza Estate. This "cupping" test is a
systematic coffee tasting method reminiscent of wine
tastings. Once they pass the cupping tests, the bagged green
beans begin their journey to select roasters around the