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Mastering the Art of Coffee Harvesting and Processing

Coffee Harvesting: How It’s Done

Coffee harvesting is the first step towards producing the perfect cup of coffee. To start with, coffee trees require significant care and attention throughout their growing season.

When the time comes, coffee berries are picked to extract coffee beans. There are three primary methods of coffee harvesting: selective, machine, and strip harvesting.

Selective Harvesting

The most traditional method of harvesting is selective harvesting. As the name suggests, it is a very meticulous process that involves handpicking only ripe fruits from the coffee bushes.

Experienced and skilled harvesters observe the fruits closely, only picking those that are fully mature, thus leaving behind those that are still green or just starting to turn red. By only harvesting ripe fruits, the quality of the coffee beans is significantly improved.

Selective harvesting is more time-consuming since handpicking is the only method used. It is challenging work since the coffee bushes grow in uneven terrain, making it challenging to get to some areas of the farm.

Nonetheless, the product resulting from this method is highly appreciated by many coffee enthusiasts.

Machine Harvesting

Nowadays, many coffee plantations are switching to machine harvesting to improve their harvesting speed and efficiency. This method uses specialized equipment designed to extract all the berries from the tree at once.

In flat terrain, machines such as the mechanical harvesting machine, can accomplish this quickly and efficiently. They shake the tree mechanically and pick all the berries.

The main advantage of this method is its efficiency and speed unlike selective harvesting, where each fruit must be picked by hand the machines can pick a vast area in just a couple of hours, making it much quicker to complete the job. However, machine harvesting cannot differentiate between ripe and unripe or imperfect fruit, therefore reducing the quality of the final product.

Strip Harvesting

Strip harvesting is quite different from the other two methods of coffee harvesting. This process strips the entire tree of its berries in one go.

It is similar to machine harvesting, but with the berries being separated from the tree using a mechanized stripping system. The process can be fast but, unfortunately, it tends to harvest low-quality berries and can mix up the different processing types.

Coffee Processing Methods: Different Types and Their Characteristics

After harvesting, the coffee berries go through various processing methods, which differ in time, water usage, and the levels of acidity that the resulting coffee has. Let’s explore the common types of coffee processing methods:

Honey Processing

Honey processing is a unique way to process coffee, characterized by its distinctly sticky and sweet taste. It involves removing the outer layer of the coffee cherry, leaving behind the sticky, pulpy layer.

The coffee beans sit in the sticky layer of fruit between the cherry and the bean, where they ferment. This fermentation process gives the beans their sweet and fruity flavor.


Washed Processing

Semi-washed processing is a hybrid of both washed and natural processing. The process starts with pulping the cherries, but not to remove the entire pulp.

Afterward, it is sent through a water system that removes some of the mucilage, sugar and residue left on the beans. The resulting coffee has a mild flavor profile.

Washed Processing

Washed processing is a popular and straightforward way to process coffee beans. It involves removing the pulp and leaving the bean intact.

Afterward, the beans are washed and left to ferment, which improves its flavor and aroma. Washed processing results in a consistently clean and bright coffee that you can enjoy.

Natural Processing

Natural processing is the oldest and most traditional way of making coffee. It relies on sun-drying the beans in their fruit and pulp in the sun until they reach the desired moisture level.

This method allows the beans to ferment in the sugars from the fruit, leaving them with a fruity and intense flavor. The process can take a few weeks, but it ensures a unique tasting profile.

Dry Processing

Dry processing involves sun-drying the freshly harvested coffee cherries until the fruit completely dries up. Once dry, the fruit is peeled away to reveal the beans.

This process gives the coffee a more earthy, full-bodied flavor that is popular with some coffee tasters.

Wet Processing

Wet processing is a process similar to washed processing but with a more wet and thorough washing process. The coffee cherries go through the standard de-pulping phase, but then the beans remain partially wrapped in a layer of the clear, slimy pulp called mucilage.

The beans are then transferred to water tanks, after which they will start to ferment in water. Wet processing produces coffee with consistent flavors and a clean taste profile.


Coffee harvesting and processing are integral parts of the coffee-making process. From the meticulous selective harvesting, the time-efficient machine harvesting, to the intense and fruity flavor in natural processing, each method has its unique taste and characteristics.

Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast, occasional drinker, or merely interested in the process of coffee-making, there is always something new to learn. We hope this guide has given you a more in-depth understanding of coffee harvesting and processing and the different methods involved in the process.

Coffee Harvesting Best Practices: What You Need to Know

Coffee harvesting is a crucial part of the coffee production process that heavily influences the quality and taste of coffee. Coffee farmers and their harvesters must practice proper harvesting techniques to ensure that their coffee beans are top-notch.

Here are some best practices to follow to obtain the best coffee possible.

Proper Harvesting

The quality of the harvested coffee fruit significantly impacts the final coffee taste. Picking beans that are either unripe or overripe will spoil the taste, leading to subpar coffee quality and a lower price.

For optimum quality, experts recommend that the coffee be picked only when it is fully ripe.

Selective Harvesting

One of the best practices to follow when it comes to harvesting coffee is selective harvesting. This method entails manually picking only the ripe cherries while leaving the green cherries behind on the tree.

This approach requires skilled pickers, as all fruit must be handpicked, but the flavor of the coffee beans resulting from using this technique is considered to be superior. It is a more time-consuming harvesting method but is well worth it for the quality of the final product.

Strip Harvesting

Strip harvesting involves stripping cherry trees of all the fruit in one go. Although this method may seem efficient, it often catches cherries that are not ripe, which dilutes the quality of the final product.

However, there are ways to make strip harvesting more efficient while still ensuring that only the ripest cherries are picked. For example, using cloth beneath the tree during strip harvesting can help weed out unripe cherries, ensuring that only the ripest cherries reach the processing stage.


After harvesting, the coffee cherries must undergo proper handling to prevent contamination or spoilage. Here are some post-harvesting best practices to consider to maintain top-quality coffee:


Avoiding contamination with dirt, pests, or other debris is essential. Coffee cherries should only be harvested in clean areas free of any unwanted pollutants.

Just as important, the picking containers should be cleaned thoroughly before use each day, ensuring that there are no contaminants that can ruin the quality of the coffee.


After harvesting, it is essential to transport the coffee cherries to the processing site quickly. It is vital to avoid any contact with the ground or any contaminant that could affect the coffee’s taste.

Any coffee that has been exposed to dirt or other microbes will compromise the quality of the coffee, leading to a lower price on the market.

Proper Transportation

During the transportation phase, it is also necessary to optimize logistics and prevent contamination. After harvesting, it is best to transport the cherries in small or medium quantities to larger containers to avoid creating pressure that may break the beans.

In addition, beans should be transported in such a way that they don’t get wet because of rain or other moisture sources that could interfere with their quality. In conclusion, coffee harvesting best practices involve a higher level of attention to detail.

Coffee experts recommend selective harvesting to ensure that only the ripe cherries are picked, providing a higher-quality product. In contrast, strip harvesting can be made more efficient through the use of fabric that catches only ripe cherries.

Proper handling is essential in maintaining the quality of the coffee; cleanliness, contamination prevention and proper transport should always be practiced. The coffee bean quality can be maintained by following these harvest practices, thereby contributing to an excellent cup of coffee for coffee enthusiasts.

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