Your day likely starts at sunrise and will end at sunset (or even later). You probably will walk several kilometers each day, every day from your home to your coffee tree fields, plus you’ll be walking a lot while in your fields.
If it’s time to harvest beans, you’ll be headed to trees you planted and carefully tended to three years ago. You will, example, have had to clear weeds from each tree at least three times a year.
Growing your trees will entail tending to them carefully, providing them with good soil, water and non-chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Many organic coffee farmers do harvest their beans themselves, often bringing in hired help, as well as bringing in any family members (wives, siblings, children old enough to help, even parents) to help with the harvest.
There are three basic ways of harvesting your coffee: selective harvesting, strip harvesting and mechanical harvesting (another method of strip harvesting).
Strip harvesting basically entails picking all beans on the tree (stripping it) whether the beans are still green or cherry red (ripe coffee fruit actually are called cherries). Strip harvesting can take place by hand by having harvesters grab a branch near the tree’s trunk and then pulling the branch outward, thus knocking the fruit onto the ground. (Harvesters placed canvas bags under the branches beforehand). Harvesters also can strip a coffee by using hand-held mechanical strippers called derricadeiras.
Mechanical harvesting uses mechanical harvesters, machines that use vibrating/rotating mallets that knock the coffee beans from the tree into collection tubs.
Organic coffee farmers tend to selective harvest their beans and so manually, by hand.
This is quite time intensive, as you can imagine, but this method ensures that only ripe cherries are picked. It also makes sure the beans stay flavorful and waste is kept to a minimum.
Your organic farm may be quite small and therefore you may not have carts or machines to carry your harvested beans to their processing area. This means you and your other harvesters will carry 50- to 100-pound bags filled with beans from the coffee fields to the processing area.
The coffee bean is inside the cherry and processing entails separating the bean from the pulpy fruit by squeezing the cherry. You then soak the beans to remove any remaining pulp (doing so causes the heavier beans to sink to the bottom of the container with the pulp floating to the top).
You then place the beans on drying sheets and, once they are dry, select the best beans and ready them for export.
Organic coffee has a much more intensive growing and harvesting process than does non-organic coffee. In addition, the organic growing, harvesting and processing requirements are much stricter than conventionally grown coffee. It’s understandable – and to be expected – that organic coffee will be more expensive.
We are proud of our organic, fairtrade, premium coffee. It is expensive and it is worth it! Contact one of Ubean Coffee’s independent distributors today to try some for yourself!