Kok ki Chante has been working in Haiti’s coffee mecca: the southeast / Thiotte area for over a decade. Along with directly supporting small producer co-ops and exporting specialty coffee, KKC has invested in creating a demonstration farm. We were able to purchase several plots of land through Singing Rooster roasted coffee sales (Singing Rooster is a social enterprise nonprofit in the U.S. and they’ve been supporting farmers for years.) These experimental farms offer many benefits for Haiti’s coffee farmers:
- Farmers can learn new ways of doing things without having to do it on their farms
- We teach agricultural techniques and technologies, showcase new or improved crops
- Our farms serves as a venue to research and test new methods alongside traditional ones
- We plant different species of trees to help determine disease resistance
- We experiment with drying techniques to lower costs of production
- We are an approved USAID farmer-to-farmer host
Case In Point
Like most coffee regions around the world, access to clean water is sparse in Haiti; less than half of its 10 million people have access to potable water. Traditionally, Haiti’s export coffee is washed coffee. Unfortunately, using a washed process technique in the coffee industry makes thousands of gallons of water toxic for those living downstream (common place at many origins). Given Haiti’s chronic water shortage, and the damage washed coffee does to Haiti’s environment, we’re experimenting with honeyed coffee.
Honey processed coffee is a technique that uses very little water when transforming crops. The only water used is to pick out floaters — a container of water that is reused just for this purpose. This process also produces a coffee of higher quality that typically achieves a higher price on international markets. This type of processing has not been used on a large scale in Haiti, and we are hoping to introduce it wide-scale.
Unlike washed coffee, honey processed coffee contains a bit of the pulp on the bean. After a rough depulping, beans stew in their own juices for a period of time in containers. This makes the coffee sticky and gooey (it’s called “honey” because it attracts bees). This allows the pulp to ferment and create wine-like tasting profiles in brewed coffee. The trick for doing honey coffee well includes knowing how much pulp to keep on the coffee, keeping a close eye on the fermentation process (influenced by outside temperature and humidity), and drying it well. Although the pulp adds terrific flavors and saves water, it comes at the price of spending more time and using better equipment when drying.
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