As our trip draws to a close, the Fall 2017 South of the Clouds group (code name Crack Team of Linguistic Monks, or CTLM) finds itself northeast of Dali in a region called the Nu Jiang Valley. This will be the final destination of our student planned X-phase before heading back to Kunming for Transference. In the past two weeks, we have managed to travel across most of south and west Yunnan and have walked along the Mekong river in Jinghong, sung karaoke in Dali, and spent a day in the hot springs of Tengchong. However, I believe that most of the CTLM would agree with me when I say Nujiang is one of the coolest. Not only is the scenery gorgeous and the people incredibly nice, but the entire valley makes most of its income from coffee. Needless to say, it has been an educational and extremely delicious few days.
We spent all of November 30th learning about the coffee making process and getting some hands on experience. That morning was dedicated to picking the cranberry-looking coffee beans from fields of head high trees. Due to the unequal maturing rates of the individual beans, coffee must always be picked by hand to avoid getting under or overripe ones. This meant that we all were sent with baskets to frolic amongst the trees and ideally collects some beans. I would say we were successful, though most of the gathering was done from the baskets of other members of the CTLM.
The afternoon was dedicated to sorting, washing, and drying the beans. The first step in this process was to separate the beans deemed unworthy of high quality status (basically every bean that wasn’t rotted, under ripe, or extremely damaged) from those that were. We spent a fair amount of time filtering through the pans of beans and throwing all of the unwanted ones into separate containers, at people’s faces, or putting them in Ron’s ears. Then we learned that this earwax coated cast of rejects was what they would sell to the big coffee consumer in the area: Starbucks. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is…
Anyway, after the bean sorting we used water, buckets, and baskets to wash the remaining beans that the village would keep and lay them out on big racks to dry. This is done so the beans can retain their flavor before the shells are removed and the inside is roasted. We finished the afternoon with some incredible tea made out of the coffee bean husks. It was good enough to mention in this yak.
Not much more to report from this caffeine fueled homestay. Stay tuned for more yaks about our X-phase adventures.