Welcome to 2016 and what a better way to start the year than writing about coffee - after all I do Run On Coffee!
On Monday 28 December we set off for a very pleasant drive down the South Coast to Port Edward and the Beaver Creek Coffee Estate. It was a typical hot and humid Kwazulu-Natal day and the car air conditioner was on full. We kept the speedo cruise set at 120km and were very glad we did as the metro police were out in full force and we saw many cars pulled over for speeding. It took us about 2 hours to reach the estate which was very well sign posted when we reached Port Edward.
Wow was the estate busy! Lots of people in the shop and a waiting list for tables in the restaurant. Neil and I were going to do the Crop to Cup tour at 12pm so we decided to get a table and order lunch. We ordered our toasted sandwiches and because they were so busy we ended up taking our sandwiches with us on the tour. Our two teenagers stayed in the restaurant to eat and wait for us to finish.
The tour was led by Ed Cummings who bought the estate and started growing coffee. The estate was originally a banana plantation but the growing of bananas had moved out of KZN to Mpumalanga. He wondered what they should grow and discovered that coffee would be very successful. They didn’t just decide to plant coffee but process, roast and package as well.
Coffee trees have staggered ripening so it is a very labour intensive business. The flowers smell like jasmine and the trees need to be checked regularly for rust and bugs. One of the coffee strains they currently grow is the F6 strain of Arabica, a prolific bearer developed in Zimbabwe. The estate produces 1 – 1 ½ tonnes per hectare of coffee. Just about every country in the tropics produces coffee except South Africa.
|Green coffee cherries|
|Green coffee beans|
South Africa imports a lot of coffee, in fact we can import it for cheaper that we can produce it. Beaver Creek also imports coffee and that is packaged under its RedBerry label. They also make coffee capsules but these are packaged in Cape Town as coffee capsules need specialised equipment. Capsules contain 5g of ground coffee with a very even ground size. When making coffee like cappuccinos etc the usual grams of coffee used is 8 – 10 grams.
Green coffee cherries stay on the trees for 6 months and stay red for about a week. The cherries can only be picked when they are red. If they go brown they are left on the tree. Only the red cherries can go through the pulper. The coffee cherries are pulped and then fermented for a day or two. They are then rinsed 6 times and placed on the sun dryer. They are also dried with a mechanised dryer for a night or two. The green beans are then placed in breathable sacks for 6 months to a year before roasting. Green beans can stand around for 10 years. Green bean is what coffee is called before roasting. The older the green beans are the more mellow the coffee becomes. Beaver Creek Coffee Estate’s 2014 crop ran out at the end of November and they are currently using the 2015 crop.
The pulper can pulp 3 tonnes of coffee cherries per day. 1 tonne of cherries makes 100kg of usable coffee. They have a 20kg roaster but prefer to roast 15kg at a time. A light roast tastes very different to a dark roast of the same bean. The coffee is tipped out at 200C (starts at 140C) and it takes 13 mins for a medium roast and 14 mins for a dark roast. A light roasted coffee has a higher acidity and if that were used to make an espresso it would be far too bitter.
|Pulper and fermenter|
|Machinery for drying|
There are four grinds of coffee :
Coarse – Percolator
Medium – Filter/Plunger
Fine – Espresso
Ultra Fine – Turkish/Greek
After the very informative tour we tried their different coffees and then had to decide which beans we would buy to take home with us. We decided on F6 Estate Reserve, Black Rhino Malawi – Nantipwilli AA and RedBerry Indonesian Mahndeling.
|Beaver Creek coffee to try|
|Entrance to the shop and the Espresso bar|
|Beaver Creek beans|
|2015 Cafe Society winner region : South|
The Crop to Cup tour costs R45 and you get to try all the coffee (bottomless) so you might want to miss out on your morning cuppa. There are three tours a day – 10am, 12pm and 2pm. It is advisable to book in advance.
Beaver Creek Coffee Estate
Open daily from 8am to 4pm
Love coffee? Then you must make a trip out to this coffee estate. Don’t be sad if you cannot get there as you can purchase Beaver Creek coffee from their online store.