How Are Coffee Beans Harvested? 7 Steps

How Are Coffee Beans Harvested

Coffee beans are the magical little seeds that give us the sip of energizing wonder we need to tackle our day. But have you ever stopped to think about how are coffee beans harvested and processed? Coffee harvesting is an intricate process that involves careful cultivation, precise timing, and considerable labor.

In this blog, we will take you through the intricate process of coffee harvesting.

Cultivation Of Coffee Beans

Before the harvesting process even begins, coffee beans must be grown and cultivated. This involves planting and nurturing coffee seeds over time to ensure they thrive in their environment. Typically, the seeds are planted in warmer climates near the equator. During cultivation, they are weeded, fertilized, and monitored for any pests or diseases.

7 Steps – How Are Coffee Beans Harvested?

How Are Coffee Beans Harvested

From seed to cup, the journey of coffee beans is fascinating. It involves a meticulous process that starts with cultivation and ends when you take the first sip of your favorite brew. But what exactly happens between these two steps? Let’s break it down into 7 easy-to-follow steps and take a look at how coffee beans are harvested.

Step 1. Mapping The Coffee Trees

Harvesting begins with mapping the coffee trees. Mapping involves noting the position and value of each tree so that farmers can efficiently harvest the beans. The experienced coffee harvesters know which trees are ready to be picked and which need a few more days of nurturing. They also determine which parts of the coffee plants should be harvested to get the best quality coffee beans. 

Harvesting teams usually include a combination of experienced local farmers and migrant workers who take part in the meticulous mapping process. The mapping process is essential for the proper maintenance and management of the crop. Through the mapping process, farmers can easily track the growth of their coffee trees and ensure they are getting the best results.

Step 2. Selecting The Right Time To Harvest

The next step in the harvesting process is selecting the right time to harvest. In this step, the farmers have to be careful and vigilant as they need to time the harvest correctly. The perfect timing depends on the ripeness of the coffee cherries, the climatic conditions, and other factors. 

Coffee trees typically start producing fruit after three years of care and cultivation, with the peak harvest period occurring between October and March. Timing is crucial for ensuring that the coffee beans are at the peak of their flavor. 

The beans will not have enough flavor and sweetness if harvested too early. But if they are left out for too long, they may become overripe and lose their flavor.

Also read Are Coffee Beans The Same As Cocoa Beans?

Step 3. Picking The Coffee Cherries

Coffee cherries are typically hand-picked by farm workers who are specially trained to do the job. Here’s how it works; the pickers carefully pluck the ripe red coffee cherries from the branch one by one, making sure not to damage the coffee tree or the surrounding environment when picking up all the cherries.

This process is repeated multiple times over the course of several months, depending on the size of the farm. It is an arduous process but one that yields quality, flavorful coffee beans. It is also worth mentioning that handpicking is usually done in small coffee farms and is considered to be the more labor-intensive and expensive option.

Step 4. Sorting & Processing

After the coffee cherries have been picked, they are sorted and processed. It is a delicate process that requires a lot of knowledge and skill. The coffee beans are separated from the cherries and then carefully sorted into different categories based on their size, shape, color, and quality. 

The sorting process is essential for ensuring that only the best quality beans are used in the final product. After sorting, the beans are then processed to remove any impurities and enhance the flavor. This involves removing the skin, pulp, and parchment from the beans before being dried and roasted for consumption.

Also check Is Coffee A Bean Or A Nut?

Step 5. Roasting The Coffee Beans

The roasting process is the crucial step that brings out the flavor and aroma of the coffee beans. Roasting occurs when the raw coffee beans are exposed to high temperatures that result in the Maillard reaction, a process of caramelization and flavor development. 

This is where skillful roasters come into play, as they have the ability to bring out a bean’s unique characteristics by controlling time, temperature, and other variables. 

Roasting can take anywhere from 8-20 minutes, depending on the type of bean and desired roast level, ranging from light to dark. In the end, you are left with perfectly roasted coffee beans, ready to delight your taste buds.

Step 6. Grinding The Coffee Beans

Grinding is an essential step in the coffee-making process as it creates the perfect texture for your favorite beverage. It is a delicate balancing act of ensuring the beans are not over-ground while still achieving an ideal consistency. 

For those looking for a rich, bold taste, coarsely ground coffee is the way to go, while those looking for a smoother, milder flavor can opt for a finer grind. On the other hand, espresso calls for an extra-fine powder. 

It takes a keen eye and skillful technique to select the right grind size tailored to the individual’s needs. If done correctly, grinding can transform your coffee beans into a tantalizing treat that is sure to satisfy you. With the right tools and techniques, you can take your coffee experience to the next level.

Step 7. Grading & Packing

Once the roasting and grinding process is complete, coffee beans are graded according to their flavor. In this stage, coffee experts carefully assess the quality and taste of the beans to determine which ones are suitable for sale. This is a critical step in ensuring the integrity and quality of coffee beans is maintained. 

After grading, the coffee beans are carefully weighed and packed into airtight bags to preserve their freshness. The final step is to label each bag with its origin, roast date, and blend details. With this last touch, coffee beans are ready to take their rightful place on your kitchen counter and make their way into your cup. 

Enjoy the journey from bean to brew!

You may want to read Why Are My Coffee Beans Oily?

Final Thoughts

These are the 7 important steps of coffee bean harvesting. Each step requires skill and knowledge to ensure the perfect cup of coffee, from handpicking the cherries to grinding and packing the beans. 

With the right tools and technique, you can take your coffee experience to the next level and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee every time. So, take your time, savor the aroma, and enjoy the journey from bean to brew!

We hope now you understand how are coffee beans harvested. Let us know in the comments if you still have any questions.

Visit GrindyBeans for such amazing content and for buying coffee-related items. Keep Grinding!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the 3 methods of harvesting coffee?

Coffee beans are harvested in three main ways: handpicking, machine harvesting, and strip picking. 

Handpicking or selective picking is the traditional method of harvesting coffee beans. Coffee cherries are carefully picked by hand, one by one, ensuring that only the ripe cherries are collected. 

Machine harvesting or mechanical harvesting is a faster and more efficient method but requires a large investment of resources. It uses mechanized tools to pick ripe and unripe cherries, which can result in a lower quality of beans due to the lack of precision. 

Strip picking removes all coffee cherries from the branch in one swoop, regardless of ripeness. This method is considered the most cost-effective, but it can also lead to a lower quality of coffee beans due to the lack of precision.

Q: Why is coffee harvested by hand?

Handpicking is the traditional method of harvesting coffee beans, and it is still used in many regions today. This method ensures that only ripe cherries are collected, thus leading to a higher quality of beans. Handpicking also allows skilled farmers to identify any damaged or under-ripe cherries and remove them, ensuring that only the best quality beans are harvested. 

In short, handpicking is labor-intensive, but it offers superior results compared to machine harvesting and strip picking. It is also more sustainable and environmentally friendly since it is less disruptive to the coffee-growing ecosystem.

Q: How are coffee beans harvested by machine?

Machine harvesting is a fast and efficient way of harvesting coffee beans. It uses mechanized tools to pick ripe and unripe cherries, allowing large-scale coffee production. It requires a significant investment of resources but can be more affordable in the long run due to its speed and efficiency. 

However, the lack of precision can lead to a lower quality of beans since both ripe and unripe cherries are collected. This process is also more disruptive to the environment, as it can damage coffee-growing ecosystems.