Careful harvesting and grading of green coffee beans is part of the process of producing a quality cup of roasted coffee.
Coffee Harvest Season
Regardless of the time of year, Arabica and Robusta coffees are being harvested somewhere in the world. Some countries and regions only gather once a year; others have two separate harvest periods [RWANDA has Arabica harvest season in March-August, Robusta in May-June]. Others are more specific and are divided into several stages.
Careful harvesting of the cherries is one of the imperatives of creating a quality cup of roasted coffee. That is closely related to the fact that coffee beans taste their best when they are perfectly ripe. Many experts consider the harvesting process to be the beginning of the quality of the coffee. All subsequent processes are responsible for preserving quality instead of improving it.
Harvesting Coffee by Machine
The most prominent feature of harvesting by machine is productivity. In farms with flat terrain, farmers run the machine between rows of uniform trees to harvest fruit. These giant machines shake the tree until the fruit falls off. Therefore, this is also the disadvantage of this method; the device cannot distinguish ripe or green fruit to make the correct choice. After harvesting, farmers will spend more time screening to remove green fruit and leaves mixed in it.
In general, using machines helps farmers minimize costs increase productivity and reduce the quality of the harvest.
Harvest Hand Picked
Hand-picking has been a traditional method since people started enjoying coffee. Many countries still harvest coffee by hand because machines cannot operate in rough terrain. Traditionally, the quick hand-harvesting process is to pluck all at once from the branches. Similar to mechanical harvesting, this method of harvesting is fast but does not accurately select ripe fruit. It does not require expensive equipment and machinery but still produces batches of coffee with mixed green berries and still takes time to sift through green berries.
Hand Harvesting green coffee (selective picking)
This is also the primary content we want to mention; the first requirement is to pick fully ripe berries to create high-quality coffee. This means that the picker needs to select ripe berries to harvest and leave the green ones on the branch for the next harvest, as coffee tends to ripen in batches. This will reduce sieving time but pose a problem in the productivity stage. Since the pickers are paid according to the volume of the harvested product, they tend to pick more green fruit to fill in to increase the weight. Therefore, the farm owner needs to have a generous reward policy to harvest 100% ripe fruit to encourage the pickers.
Farmers often pick up all the berries underground and divide them into groups to have a different preliminary method because the loss can attract stem borers and many other insects. These coffee batches have high risks because the quality is often low and heterogeneous.
Category of green coffee
After picking it down, coffee is classified by several methods to remove the green fruit and impurities. The classification is still manually based on machinery and expensive installation costs in many countries.
In more developed countries, coffee cherries are usually sorted in floating tanks. All are poured into a water tank, where ripe fruit sinks and defective fruit floats. After that, the floating fruits are picked out separately, ripe fruit on one side, and each type will have a different preliminary processing direction.