The MesoAmerican Development Institute (MDI) - develops and manufacturers sustainable technologies for processing coffee.
Historically coffee was sun dried on large patios in a kind of 'Rake & Bake' process. Unfortunately, rainy weather could prolong this process, inviting mold infestation. Coffee drying equipment, using a rotating drum and hot air helped but introduced a more serious problem. The cheapest source of energy for the new drying equipment? Firewood, courtesy of the surrounding Rainforest.
According to MDI, the coffee business employs nearly 1 million farmers in Latin America and generates in excess of $10 billion annually. The loss of native habitat due to the burning of wood for energy represents a serious ecological threat and is one of the areas MDI, is working in. By incorporating modern engineering with solar energy, drying times are reduced to one day, burning firewood is eliminated, and vast tracts of forest preserved. Coffee quality is also improved as beans are dried at lower temperatures, preserving more coffee flavor.
Firewood used to fuel conventional coffee dryers.
Solar Drying Towers at Cooperative Montes de Oro.
In the coffee growing regions of Central America an estimated 6,000 hectares of forest go up in smoke as fuel for coffee dryers, each year—'roughly equivalent of three square centimeters of forest for each cup of coffee we consume.'
Choosing environmentally sustainable coffee is essential to drive investment by farmers in modern drying technologies and other sustainable coffee production processes.
The MesoAmerican Development Institute is on the leading edge of this and other work and you can support their great efforts and great coffee with purchases from Cafe Solar.