VENEZUELAN COFFEE
David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology and Chemistry
University of Cincinnati Clermont College
Batavia OH 45103
 

This page has been accessed Counter times since 23 March 2007. 
 

COFFEE CULTURE AND PROCESSING OF BEANS:
There are two main species of coffee grown in Venezuela these years.  The original is arabica (Coffea arabica L.) which grows better in the highlands, has superior flavor, prefers sheded culture, but whose beans ripen at different times, requiring several pickings.  On the other hand, Robusta (Coffea canephora p. ex Fr.) which favors lowland culture, produces lower quality coffee, grows well in full sun, but the beans tend to ripen all at the same time, favoring industrial production.  The former, because it grows better under a forest canopy, is also more favorable to perservation of the tropical forests.

I.  CULTURE:
Here are pictures taken of coffee plants growing under a forest canopy

  

II.  BEANS ON THE  COFFEE PLANT:
Here are some closeup pictures of the coffee "cherries" on the coffee plant grown under partial shade.  Note that they are in different stages of maturity.  The dark red cherries are ready to be picked:

  

III.  PROCESSING OF THE COFFEE CHERRIES:
Once the cherries have been picked, the usual technique is to remove the red pericarp immediately.  However, Fedor Gouveneur, my host in Venezuela, is convinced that better flavor is acheived by allowing the cherries to dry on a screen retaining more of the flavor in the bean.  The beans on the left are cherries dried with the pericarp on.  The dried beans are then "trilled" through a machine in which a copper drum abrades off the pericarp, producing a bean which appears cream colored.

         

IV.  COMPONENT PARTS OF THE COFFEE BEAN:
There is a mucilageous coating on these beans which is very difficult to remove unless the beans are fermented for a short time.  This bacterial action loosens up the coating.  When the fermented beans are dried, the mucilagenous layer forms a cream colored layer termed parchment.  When the parchment is removed, it reveals a jade-green bean, ready for roasting.

          

V.  PURCHASING COFFEE FROM LOCAL GROWERS:
Local coffee grower in Pueblo del Sud bring their coffee to a local purchasing center.  Here we are examining the beans, evaluating especially by smell to determine the quality.

          

VI.  ROASTING AND BREWING OF COFFEE:
Fedor is convinced that coffee flavor begins to deteriorate immediately following roasting.  Therefore he (rather here, Daisy, his emploee) uses a table top coffee roaster (similar to a hot air popcorn popper).  As soon as the beans are roasted (about 12 minutes in this device), they are poured out on a stone table top to cool, and then ground and brewed.  A neighbor uses a modification of the French press to make her coffee.

    
 

Below are pictures of a brightly colored red and found on the dried beans:
 

Here are topographical maps of the Pueblo del Sud region of Venezuela, famous for its superior coffee it produces.
 

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