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Kona Coffee Storage Room
27 September 2009


Last week I discussed the process of drying and storing Kona coffee.  The state standards for Kona coffee are 9% to 12.2% moisture level.  I try to target 11.6% but it's not as easy as it seems.  Temperature, cloud cover, age of the coffee, phase of the moon and mood of my dog all seem to affect the coffee's moisture level.  Ok, I doubt the moon's phase is really involved but there's certainly some kind of mysterious mojo going on that randomly changes the coffee's moisture level.  I say my target is 11.6% but I'm happy with anything between 11% and 12%.

Currently our coffee is stored in an insulated refrigerator container.  It's right off the back of a semi-truck, graffiti included, and it sits right in the middle of our front yard.  I've always wanted to get rid of the ugly thing.  Before I can though, I need a better solution.  So I'm building a coffee storage room.

The storage room needs to be tightly sealed against humidity, insulated to prevent temperature fluctuations, large enough to store lots and lots of coffee and most importantly, lockable so nobody can steal all that valuable Kona coffee.  Believe it or not, farm theft is a big issue.  With a year's worth of income stored in a single room, it's worth it to have a good lock.

Door Lock
I installed a fancy electronic lock.  Not only is it neat, it's also quite practical.  The old container has a standard padlock on it and I can't help it but I always, always, always walk all the way down to the container before realizing that I forgot to bring the key.  Luckily my head is attached so now all I have to do is remember the combination.  Even better, the lock is smart enough to have several combinations so I can change other people's combos without having to remember a new one myself.

With most locks, a good whack with a sledge hammer is all it takes to defeat the combination.  You can see how my fancy new lock is recessed into the door.  This would make it very difficult to smash or pry the thing off by force.  This design wasn't totally on purpose though.  I had built the door thick enough to hold insulation and only afterwards did it occur to me that most locks are designed for a standard 1½" thick door rather than my super-thick 4" door.  No matter, the recessed lock worked out well.  Some day I may install a little cover so the lock is hidden from view.  Then I'll need to camouflage the door so I have a secret door with a secret lock.  The room will be so secure it could double as a prison for any visitors that refuse to try our Kona coffee.

Meter Besides the door, construction of the room has presented several other unique challenges.  The storage room floor isn't all one level.  This is because there was a lot of solid rock in the way.  Rather than paying to cut it all out with a giant jack hammer, I decided to simply turn it into a shelf.  I think that will actually work out nicely when stacking coffee because I won't have to bend over as far.

When pouring the foundation, I was also smart enough to put a layer of plastic under the floor and behind all the walls.  Cement may feel solid but it is actually porous like a sponge.  So in addition to the plastic on the outside, I have also painted the inside with several coats of garage floor epoxy.  It took a couple days to paint it all but I think all the effort will be worth it to keep the room nice and dry.

Chute I insulated the ceiling and walls, finished it off with drywall and installed a dehumidifier.  With the room sealed so tight, it will easy to precisely control the coffee's moisture content without running the dehumidifier much at all.  Since the room is mostly below ground level, I don't think I'll need an air conditioner either.  That's much better than the old refrigerator container that sits out in the sun and can get too hot despite the insulation.

The best part of the storage room will be the coffee chute.  It's not done yet but it will be soon.  The drying deck is on the top floor of the barn and I've built a chute that leads down to the basement.  After drying, all I'll have to do is rake the coffee into the chute then go downstairs and pour it directly into bags.  That will be much easier than shoveling and scooping all the coffee by hand then carrying the heavy bags down to the container just to realize that I forgot the key again.


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