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Parchment flowing towards fermentation tanks after de-pulping

After washing, the parchment is placed in drying racks (bacs de sechage, made locally out of wood and wire mesh) for one day to make sure all the water drains away quickly. These racks can be stacked and covered with a tarpaulin if it rains.

The parchment is then transferred to drying patios (‘glacis’) for around 5 full sunny days (termed as ‘soleils’), where it is turned every 15-20 minutes by up to 9 people, depending on the size of the patios.

At night, and if it rains, the coffee is either gathered into a heap and covered by a tarpaulin or packed into small storage sheds along the side of the patios. In some cases, repeated rains can mean it can take several weeks for a particular batch of parchment to receive 5 ‘soleils’. In many washing stations, this leads to severe capacity problems, as there can be too much coffee in the process of being dried, as not enough temporary storage and patio space. Quality problems would result if the coffee was not properly turned and aired while in storage, as the parchment coffee would start to become mouldy.

Some RECOCARNO washing stations have to deal with particular challenges. At KPKP Puilboreau washing station, which receives high rainfall owing to its high elevation, samples of parchment are tested for dryness by biting into them. In the larger washing stations, they have moisture meters.

Showery conditions can thwart proper drying as the patios have to be left to dry before the re-spreading of the parchment coffee; the alternative is to keep the parchment covered for longer. Use of the bacs de sechage speeds the drying process and suggests that permanent drying racks could be preferable to patio drying, especially in the wetter areas.

The next stage of processing is storage of the dried parchment coffee.