Penagos: Looking after every last drop of water in coffee processing

The washing stations that started to emerge in Rwanda in 2003 were a saving grace to the struggling coffee industry. What was a welcome addition to export figures, however, wasn’t as welcome to the country’s water sources. The wet mills that were introduced were using approximately 10 litres of water for every 1 kilogram of parchment coffee, according to a 2008 report by Spread. “These waters are highly charged with pollutants and must be treated in order to render it harmless to the environment,” the report states. “This presents an additional expense to the CWS owner and a threat to the environment.” While different methods are emerging to help countries like Rwanda treat their wastewater, the first step in dealing with wastewater is to limit usage altogether. In Rwanda, the solution came about with the consideration of South American technology, including Penagos, that can process coffee with minimum water-usage. Penagos is a leading supplier of equipment that eliminates the use of high volume water by mechanically removing the mucilage after rasp pulping cherries. In the Spread report, experiments found that pulping with the Penagos Eco Logic 500M machine used just 227 litres of water per tonne of cherries, versus 20,599 litres per tonne with a traditional disc pulping machine. The tests also found that in regards to cupping quality, the Penagos machine was able to consistently yield the best results for all characteristics without soaking the beans prior to drying. The taste characteristics were even found to be better than with disc pulping in terms of flavour, finish, cupping points and per cent cupping score. The Pengaos Hermanos UCBE models range from being able to process 500 kilograms of cherry to 20,000 kilograms. The machines are able to process coffee providing percentages of dry parchment/hulled coffee lower than 2 per cent, and guarantees no presence of grains in the pulp. Penagos also offers the advanced DCV 306 line, the newest pulping technology that has the lowest power consumption among comparable technologies. The machines offer a high capacity of 4000 kilograms an hour, using just a 5 to 7.5 horsepower engine. Total water consumption is just 0.2 litres per kilogram of coffee cherry. The machine is adjustable to all coffee sizes, and limits any damage and loss of the beans. Penagos equipment is currently distributed all around the world, with representatives on every coffee-producing continent.  For more information, visit

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