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Ecomill®: a new, cleaner technology for coffee processing, now available to colombian cofee growers

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA- June 5, 2013-Colombian coffee growers have a new coffee washing technology available to them, which is the cleanest and most efficientever to be developed.

Ecomill®, a technology developed by the National Centre for Coffee Research (Cenicafé) and which is in the process of obtaining a patent from the National Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), considerably reduces water and energy consumption and completely eliminates wastewater contamination during the de-pulping or processing stages.

Both the FNC and Cenicafé are permanently seeking to innovate and bring cutting-edge, environmentally friendly technology within reach of the Colombian coffee grower.

“The three different models of Ecomill®, with the capacity to wash 500, 1,500 and 3,000 kg per hour, allow coffee to be washed by a process of natural fermentation (or by applying pectinolytic enzymes) using between 0.35 and 0.6 litres of water per kilogram (l/kg) of dried parchment coffee (cps) produced”, explains Carlos Oliveros, lead researcher in agricultural engineering at Cenicafé.

This level of water consumption is negligible when compared to washing in vats with manual agitation, which requires 4.2 litres of water per kilogram of cps; to washing in larger-sized tanks with waterproof pumps (between 6 and 9 l/kg of cps) and to washing channels (20 l/kg of cps).

Ecomill® is a technology that is even cleaner than the already very clean Becolsub®, which consumes between 0.7 and 1 litre of water per kilogram of cps, and which was also developed by Cenicafé.

In environmental terms, Ecomill can be used to produce mild coffee with a 100% reduction of the contamination generated by wastewater during the washing process. This also represents a significant advance in comparison to Becolsub®, which already reduced contamination by up to 90%.

"The contaminating waste generated when using Ecomill is easily managed by the coffee growers," notes Carlos Armando Uribe, the new Technical Manager of the Federation.

"This technology, available to small, medium and large producers, offers the advantage of producing coffee in a sustainable manner and is an option for coffee growers in the face of environmental regulations," adds Uribe.

Ecomill's cutting-edge technology can be used to produce standard export quality Colombian coffees, as well as specialty coffees (very high-quality beans).

The environmental advances made by Ecomill® in comparison to earlier technologies are especially important in times when global environmental awareness is on the rise, as is the demand for sustainable agricultural products, including coffee.

"The consumption of sustainable coffee -- or coffee which has a harmonious relationship with the environment -- is increasing around the world by close to 60% annually. Ecomill helps coffee growers achieve added value by producing sustainable coffee during a stage as important as the washing process, significantly reducing the ecological footprint of coffee processing," says Uribe.


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