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When the Catracha Quality Project began, Catracha organizers encouraged producers to focus on the quality of the coffee by selecting ripe cherry. In the Royal Blog last week, Arvin Juan presented a post-harvest process map, the result of two years of observing practices and interviewing producers. It’s a visual tool for identifying best practices with producers in Santa Elena (if you haven’t been following this project, here is a good place to start).

Through the quality project, Arvin Juan, Lowell Powell and Mayra Orellana-Powell want to support specialty coffee production by standardizing the post-harvest process. Through data analysis, they want to understand current practices and identify potential enhancements and alternatives.

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During the winter harvest months, seven producers agreed to record the weight of the picked and rejected coffee cherry and other information at four different micro-wet mills. After processing and before exporting, a sample from each pick was collected and shipped to Royal’s lab. In April, 43 samples were evaluated by cuppers from Blue Bottle Coffee, Flying Goat, Equator, Andytown, Mr. Espresso, and Tico Roasters.

The most immediate observation was that cup scores varied between picks, even from the same producer—for Antonacio Nolasco, the range was as much as 4 points (83 – 87). There was some variation for each producer, usually between 2 and 3 points. We wondered if there was any correlation between the average cup score and the percentage of rejected coffee cherry.

When you drill into this information for individual producers, there does appear to be a “window” where the percentage of rejected cherry correlates to a higher cup score. For example, looking at Louis Nolasco’s farm as a single anecdote, the highest cup score correlated to 5 or 6 percent of rejected cherry, with lower cup scores at both higher and lower percentages.

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We see a similar window – with different percentages – for another individual producer, Santiago Lopez. The high score seemed to correlate to around 10 percent of rejected cherry with lower scores again found at higher and lower percentages.

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This is also observed across all seven producers when joined on a single scatter plot together.

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What can we say about this? Most importantly, this information will be valuable to bring back to Catracha producers, both individually and as a collective group. This will be important information to track over time.

One thought: it could be that these scatter plot show the natural progression of cherry ripeness, with early and late picks showing lower cup scores and correlating low or high percentages of rejected cherry. The peak season picks instead showing high cup scores and percentages in the window.

It should be noted, that not all results fit nicely into a window. Atanacio Nolasco’s coffee scored the highest when relatively little cherry rejected. The picks with higher percentages of rejected cherry all scored lower.

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In short, we can bring this information back to Catracha producers. The data can be used as feedback, good information to help prepare for the upcoming harvest. This information reiterates the focus on quality and ripe cherry selection, Catracha’s core message. Going forward, as we compile similar data over years we will be able to hone potential enhancements and develop a standard method.