In Puerto Rico, coffee is grown mainly in the central mountainous zone of the island. The cultivation and processing of coffee consists of various steps. The first step takes place in a greenhouse. The coffee beans are planted in seedbeds with sand. The seedbeds are covered with sacks. After a period of 28 to 30 days, during which the seeds are watered to maintain the property humidity, the seeds sprout. The sprouts are tranderred to bags that are filled with dirt and covered with plastic. The proper humidity of the soil is essential for the plants to grow healthily. After six months, the bushes reach an appropriate size and can be transplanted to the ground. The bushes are planted in rows, six feet apart. The first harvest takes place about two years after the bushes are planted.

Then comes the processing of the coffee bean, the step by which the raw cherry is processed and its outer shell removed to prepare it for commercial use. The cherries are harvested between the months of August and February. The mature cherries are gathered by hand while the ones that are more or less mature are collected through a mechanical process in which the cherries are raked free of the branches. Then the pulp is removed from the cherries in a washing process. During this step, the shell is separated from the bean, and part of the mucilage, which is a sticky substance found on some plants, is washed away. After the beans are de-pulped, they are allowed to ferment for a total of 14 to 18 hours, which eliminates the rest of the mucilage. The beans are washed and are dried in the sun or in a mechanical dryer, causing the bean to dry out and separate. The final product of this process is known as parchment coffee.

The next step in processing coffee is roasting it. The beans are heated until the desired amount of toasting is achieved. The roasting process determines the characteristics of the aroma and flavor. Then the coffee is ground and packed.

PROE Editorial Group

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