After coffee cherries are picked, they must be depulped within 24 hours - either at the farm or a centralized depulping station. Depulping is the process of separating the coffee seeds from the outer layer of flesh. If the cherries pass the 24-hour mark without being depulped, they may produce an overly fruity, rotten flavor that can ruin the quality of the coffee.
Hand Depulpers: Many producers have hand depulpers on their farms or share a hand depulper with their neighbors. A hand depulper is a machine with a small rotating burr that tears off the outer layer of the coffee flesh, exposing the two coffee seeds inside. Some producers operate their depulpers by hand and others have mechanized them to help with the labor. The depulper deposits the coffee seeds into a tank and the remaining skin and flesh is separated and commonly used for compost.
Centralized Depulping Stations: Anywhere from 10 to 100 farmers may share a centralized station, depending on the size of the depulper and the makeup of their organization. The depulper station is usually run by electricity or some kind of sustainable energy source. As is the case with hand depulpers, the outer layer of the cherry is removed and separated from the beans that are deposited into a tank to begin the process of fermentation.