How Is Coffee Harvested? – A Coffee Fact You Should Know!

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Are you a big fan of coffee? You cannot lack a cup of coffee every morning to help you wake up and recharge energy for a new day.

But you don’t know how is coffee harvested, keep reading this article for more details!

The Coffee Harvesting Methods

Coffee processing takes place after it is harvested. There are three methods of harvesting these berries: strip picking, machine picking, and handpicking.

Strip Picking

Strip harvesting is considered a fairly modern method. The dedicated machine will pick all the dropped beans from the tree at once. But this method requires the topography to be flat for the machine to work effectively.

The benefit of this system is speed. However, the coffee berries will be stripped at unalike ripeness levels, for which a further classifying stage is required.

Another mechanical technique is the use of derricadeiras technology to strip. Employees will hold a machine technology to strip the coffee to a tarp on the ground. After that, these cherries are collected and processed.

On a bigger scale, many businesses have been using coffee harvesters for the past 50 years. This technique takes advantage of vibration and rotation to knock the berries out of the tree quickly. The advantage of this machine is that the capacity can be adjusted to pick unripe or ripe coffee cherries. It saves time to sort the cafe. However, 100% productivity is not always achieved.

Coffee factories have to invest in specialized coffee sorters to classify beans consistently and optimize the finished product.

Machine Picking

Picking by machine has the drawback that you need to put the machine on flat ground to operate productively. If this condition is met, this is an extremely effective method.

Although the harvester is quite expensive, it only needs one person to run it, so the total cost is still lower than other methods. Brazil is a fairly flat land that is favorable for applying this method when harvesting cafes.

Hand Picking

This manual harvesting will often produce the highest quality coffee beans as each fruit is picked at its moderate ripeness. But this method costs a lot of labor, so people only prioritize Arabica coffee beans. Workers will select the best fruit and visit again and again throughout the harvest to get the best quality fruit.

One person can collect about 220 pounds (100kg) of cherries per day with this manual picking method. They will define its maturity by indicators such as its hardness and its color. Moderately ripe fruit should be relatively soft and should be able to be crushed by hand. 

If the fruit is too hard, the fruit is not yet ripe, but if it is too soft, the fruit is overripe, and usually, the lining and pulp are already damaged. Removing the outer shells will easily lead to spoilage of the coffee beans during the grinding process because there is not enough mucus. It will be difficult to grind the powder. 

The issue just now will be similar to that of unripe berries, and the mucus layer won’t develop to an adequate degree either.

Depending on the cultivation terrain and the maturing time of the crop, the appropriate harvesting method is selected. For example, the ground is quite favorable in Brazil, and the temperature does not fluctuate wildly. 

Therefore, it is possible to harvest 75% or more of the yield. In this case, it is more cost-effective to remove overripe or underripe fruit than to manually harvest ripe fruit.

What Happens After Harvesting Coffee?

Drying

The next stage is to dry the berries, but I have to ferment these beans before that. This step is to contribute to the flavor of the cafe. After that, coffee beans will be stored in large barrels made of wood, plastic, or cement. 

The remaining mucus will be fermented and broken down the sugar into a liquid. This process can take several hours or even days. It depends on the humidity of the fermentation tanks. When the fermentation process is finished, the berries will be cleaned and dried.

Drying is considered an extremely vital step. Drying can be carried out by machine or in the sun. If exposed to the sun, it can take three to five days, and we must be followed and rotated continuously. In addition, we should avoid the bean’s exposure to water.

Sorting

To achieve the best quality finished product, you cannot skip the sorting step. There are three ways to do this step: by machine, by conveyor, and by hand. 

The manual method is the most time-consuming but also the most efficient way. Experienced workers select good coffee berries and discard defective ones.

Roasting

Roasting coffee is a way to create the unique flavor of each coffee brand. It is considered an art, and professional roasters must have high attention, sensory skills, and more. This stage aims to take the raw coffee beans and turn them into their full potential.

Transporting

About 7 million tons of coffee cherries are exported annually. It is worth noting that having to transport coffee fast as the beans can be affected by the odors and flavors. Ships are the main means of exporting coffee.

Quality Checking

Coffee cherries quality checks are carried out at every step of the production process. Coffee beans must be tested many times to meet the qualifying conditions.

Coming To You

The final journey of the coffee cherries is to the consumer. You can buy coffee at the supermarket or grocery store near your house to find the right flavor you like.

Depending on your taste, you can choose between raw beans that you grind yourself or use a pre-made packet from the cafe. Once you’ve made a perfect cup, take a little time to remember how far the beans have come to bring you the best cup of coffee.

Conclusion

When you’ve read this far, you already know that to create a quality coffee product that reaches your hands, it has gone through many meticulous stages. If you enjoy the cafe, don’t be afraid to have a cup every morning. It will boost your mood on a new day.

Hopefully, How is coffee harvested will be useful to you and thank you for your reading!

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Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).