The dense fibers of the agave need to be crushed or shredded in order to release their caramelized juice for fermentation. The roasted agave is removed from the earthen pit, chopped into smaller pieces by hand and then crushed by tahona, or a small mechanical shredder. Tahona is the Spanish word for mill and in mezcal production refers to a giant stone wheel that is pulled by a donkey, mule or horse in a circular pit to crush the agave.