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The drying deck received an overhaul.
16 December 2013


Look at that beautiful coffee drying deck.  It sure is pretty.  It's nice and flat with with no knots or bumpy areas.  All the joints are tight with a 7" rim all the way around.  The entire deck is weather resistant and waterproof.  Best of all, there's not a single nook or cranny for beans to get stuck in.  Beautiful.

I built the barn back in 2006.  During initial construction the drying deck was nothing but a plywood sub-floor.  I had always intended to resurface it with something better but never quite found the time.  The plywood worked so it was left that way for far too long.

The biggest problem with the old plywood coffee drying deck was all the knots and other little pukas.  With so many places for coffee beans to hide, clearing the dried coffee off the deck meant spending a couple hours picking up all the leftover beans by hand.  Not because each bean is so valuable but because any beans left behind could get too dry and end up as defects in the next batch of coffee.

The new deck no longer has this problem.  Clearing the deck when the coffee is dry has gone from a three person job to a one person job.  Even better, the coffee dries faster which means less raking.  Double win.

The new deck flooring is 4x8 sheets of fiber cement siding, commonly called HardiePanels®.  The advantages are that it is extremely weather-proof so it will hold up well against repeated applications of wet coffee as well as years worth of abuse from the blazing hot tropical sun.  It holds paint quite well compared to wood.  It is also much more stable than wood so the joints should stay nice and tight.

One of the biggest problems with Hardieboard is that it is brittle.  It's as tough as can be against the weather but quite fragile against physical abuse.  It is surprisingly easy to chip a corner and ruin the entire board.  The product is designed for house siding and certainly isn't meant for constant foot traffic so I was afraid that it would crack and chip as soon as I started walking on it.  Hardieboard is far from cheap so it would be an expensive mistake if it didn't work out.

I'm happy to announce that so far it is working brilliantly.  I installed the "flooring" upside down because the front of the boards have grooves and a fake wood grain that I didn't want while the back side is flat and smooth.  It is smooth enough for easy coffee raking yet still has good traction when wet.  The plywood subfloor seems to be offering plenty of support and I haven't seen a single crack yet.  With a thorough coat of primer and two coats of high quality paint, I'm hoping to get several years of maintenance free drying deck.

My only other dilemma was what color to use.  Black would absorb heat and dry faster.  Or maybe white would dry faster because it would reflect more light.  In the end, I went with a paint color called Mocha, for obvious reasons.


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