Coffee harvesting is one of the most demanding processes in entire coffee production cycle.
Even if you provide quality coffee seed and all necessary growing conditions, without proper harvest you won’t get good coffee beans.
While harvesting is one of the easiest steps in maize, wheat or apple farming, for coffee farming this is a breaking point – it determines coffee quality level.
For those who don’t know much about coffee plant characteristics, picking everything that stands on coffee tree can sound like a good solution. It’s not a bad idea, but only if you want to throw away all the hard work you have invested in coffee growing.
If we know that only ripe coffee cherries can give proper taste and aroma of final product it’s clear that we need to pick coffee at the just right moment.
Coffee harvest time – go for quality
During their maturation process, coffee beans change their color from green to red, until they reach dark red color. The red color of coffee beans tells that bean is ripe and it should be picked.
Green beans (too young) and dark red beans (they are overripe) will in most cases ruin great coffee taste and aroma.
But, the problem lies in the fact that coffee beans (not like most plants) do not reach maturity at the same time. In fact, one same branch can have green, red and dark red cherries at the same moment.
Since only red beans give true quality of coffee, it is very important to do this job properly. So, in order to get this done the way it should be, the most proper way of harvesting would be to pick each bean by hand, one by one.
Even though this job sounds exhausting, this is the only proven way to get high level of quality. The process should be repeated until all coffee beans are harvested.
The manual harvesting process is most expensive (for mass producers) and slowest harvesting method. Still, it’s the best possible choice if your goal is to get high quality (and price) of coffee beans.
This particular method is used by all top quality coffee producers.
Additional coffee harvesting methods
Besides that one, we can find two other methods in use. Although they are much cheaper and simpler than manual method, the results don’t guarantee quality.
The first one includes harvesting by raking or shaking branches with special machines. During this process all mature coffee beans drop off (this includes ripe and overripe beans). This method is simple, but since it harvests overripe beans too, it has a lot of flaws.
Second mechanical method is done with machine that picks everything from the branch in one move – this includes good, green and too old beans. This is the fastest method which will give good quantity with no quality.
The easiest way to decide which method to use is to start from your goals. If your choice is quantity and less sweat, machines will do the job. But, if you wish to crown your work with high quality coffee and high price, the manual harvest is the only proper way to achieve your goal.
If you don’t have entire coffee fields, just two or three trees at home, I suggest to use manual method. It will give the best results.