Just Haiti growers use no chemicals in any phase of coffee production and processing. They plant, weed, harvest and process the crop by hand, and use the cherry skins or shells for compost. They pick the coffee cherries (Creole seriz, French cerises) when they are fully red and ripe, and put the harvest into a water tank. The bad seriz float and are discarded.
Much of our coffee is produced using a “natural” process, the traditional way of processing coffee in Haiti. After the floating, the growers thoroughly dry the good cherries on cement patios, producing what the Haitians call kafe an krok. In this state the coffee can be stored for several months.
For coffee that will not be stored, growers use a large mortar and pestle to knock off the pulp and remove the husk in a single step. Only one of our associations, KDB, owns a dehulling machine, which runs on diesel.
Then they manually sort and clean the husked, ready-to-roast green beans. For this they first use a circular mat made of palm leaves to remove bits of chaff and husk, then they spread the beans out and manually pick out the remaining bad beans. The green ready-to-roast beans are called kafe pile.
After Just Haiti established the revolving loan fund in 2009, many of our growers were able to finance the establishment of wet milling methods. They purchased depulpers and constructed processing centers and drying patios. Most of the coffee sold in the United States is wet-milled coffee, and about 40% of our coffee is now produced using the wet-mill method. In this method, after the good cherries are removed from the water bath, the skin is removed using a depulper. The beans are then fermented for about a day, and then dried on a patio.
Although all of Just Haiti’s coffee is produced without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they are not certified organic because the process is quite expensive and must be repeated every few years.