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Comment by Langdon Stevenson on February 14, 2009 at 12:55am
Thanks for the feedback Derek. Do you find turning the beans into another barrel, or taking them out when the fermentation is complete more difficult? I expect that it might be a bit more labour intensive then typical cascading boxes.
Comment by Clay Gordon on February 13, 2009 at 2:26pm
Derek: When we were in Ecuador in 2003, I saw and idea that inspired me into a potential (and inexpensive) solution to the issue of day/night temperature differential. At Yachana Lodge they "heated" (took the chill off) the river water by circulating it through a coil embedded in a very large compost pile. The heat generated by the decomposition warmed the water. This got me thinking about a cheap low-pressure heat exchanger.

Take a 55gal drum and paint the outside black. Put a coil inside it and fill the barrel with water and put the top on (with some sort of pressure relief mechanism just in case.) Place the barrel as close as possible to the fermentary in the sunniest spot around. Now place a recycled radiator in the fermentary and using garden hose connect the two together. Use a 12VDC pump to circulate water in the coil/hose/radiator and a small 12VDC fan to blow air over the radiator. Use a thermostat to regulate the temperature by turn the pump and fan on/off. Power the pump and fan with a small solar cell that charges a car battery. This would provide a cheap way to store heat from the sun and move it inside the fermentary when you need it.

Another thing that occurred to me that is really wacky but might also work and is really kind of elegant when you think about it would be to use garden hose to create a coil around the outside of the wine barrels. You'd need some sort of quick-release mechanism ... anyway fill the hose with water, connect a dozen or more barrels together, pump the water through the radiator and you're actually using waste heat from the fermentation process to regulate the temperature inside the fermentary. Something to consider, anyway.

This same concept could be used to create a forced air drying "assist" by burying a water coil in a large thermal mass elevated slightly off the ground and pierced at regular intervals with vertical air pipes. Place the drying rack above that, pump hot water (provided by several 55 gallon drum heat exchangers) through the thermal mass and cooler air would be drawn up through the bottom of the air pipes where it would be warmed. Place a small solar-powered exhaust fan in the roof to keep the air circulating and vent it outside. This way you could guarantee that the temperature never got above a certain level, unlike with a propane or gas-powered direct forced hot air dryer.
Comment by Derek Lanter on February 13, 2009 at 1:41pm
Thank you for your comments, and good observations. Yes we are using round oak wine barrels and square boxes for fermentation with banana leaves covering the top. We have been watching to see if there are better results with one than with the other, but at this point we are still collecting the data for analysis. With Hawaii's location 21 degrees North of the equator, we have as much as a 20 degree diurnal temperature change, not at all like the stable day and night temps at the equator. This poses one of the unique challenges to producing cacao in the sub-tropcial Hawaiian climate.
Comment by cheebs on February 13, 2009 at 12:11pm
I think it's a very interesting way of fermenting. Incidentally, Ray Major, from Artisan Confections, hypothesised last December at a cacao symposium in Guatemala, that fermentation in the round would be more efficient and achieve greater uniformity over square containers, as it would have no "cold or hot" spots that could over or under-ferment. It makes sense and it's very cool to see someone actually putting that into practice.
Comment by Langdon Stevenson on February 12, 2009 at 6:05pm
Hi Darrel. Interesting to see a round barrel being used for fermentation. Is that a half wine barrel?

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