Exploring Different Methods of Coffee Harvesting

Exploring Different Methods of Coffee Harvesting

When it comes to enjoying a cup of coffee, we often don’t think about the process that goes into harvesting the beans that make our favorite brew. There are actually several types of coffee harvesting methods, each with its own unique process and impact on the flavor of the coffee. In this article, we’ll explore the different methods of coffee harvesting and how they contribute to the coffee we enjoy every day.

Traditional Handpicking

One of the oldest and most labor-intensive methods of coffee harvesting is traditional handpicking. In this method, skilled workers carefully handpick the ripe coffee cherries from the trees. This requires a great deal of precision and knowledge of when exactly each cherry is ripe enough to be harvested. Handpicking is often used for high-quality specialty coffee beans, as it allows for selective harvesting of only the ripest cherries, resulting in a more flavorful and nuanced cup of coffee. However, this method is also the most time-consuming and costly, as it requires a large labor force to be able to pick the cherries at their peak ripeness.

Once the cherries have been picked, they are usually sorted to remove any unripe or overripe cherries, as well as any leaves or debris that may have been picked along with them. This meticulous process ensures that only the best cherries are used for processing, resulting in a higher quality final product.

Strip Picking

As opposed to handpicking, strip picking is a much more efficient and cost-effective method of coffee harvesting. In this method, all of the cherries on a branch are stripped off at once, regardless of their ripeness. This means that both ripe and unripe cherries are harvested together, which can result in a less consistent and lower-quality cup of coffee. Strip picking is often used for mass-produced, lower-grade coffee, as it requires less labor and is therefore more affordable for large-scale production.

Despite the lower quality associated with strip picking, some coffee producers have found ways to use this method to their advantage. By carefully monitoring the ripening process and stripping the branches at just the right time, they can still produce a decent-quality coffee at a much lower cost than handpicking.

Machine Harvesting

With the advancement of technology, machine harvesting has become an increasingly popular method for coffee producers. Large mechanical harvesters are used to shake the coffee trees, causing the cherries to fall off and be collected in a receptacle. This method is extremely efficient and requires minimal labor, making it a cost-effective option for mass-produced coffee. However, machine harvesting can also be quite rough on the trees, as the shaking can cause damage to the branches and knock off unripe cherries along with the ripe ones. This can result in a lower-quality coffee that lacks the complexity and flavor of handpicked beans.

Despite its drawbacks, machine harvesting has its advantages, particularly for larger coffee plantations. It allows for the quick and efficient harvesting of vast quantities of cherries, which can then be processed and sold at a lower cost than handpicked coffee. Additionally, some producers have developed modified harvesting machines that are gentler on the coffee trees and better at separating ripe cherries from unripe ones, resulting in a better-quality final product.

Pulped Natural

One of the methods used to prepare the coffee seed for shipping that avoids its roasting as quickly as possible is called pulped natural. This method requires taking the seeds out of their envolopment, their parchment, but not drying them completely. It is important to let them dry in their parchment to prevent the appearance of defects and to avoid absorbing excessive notes from the sun.

The cherries are individually selected and, in the case of those with a higher degree of ripening, they are pulped. This is a process that aims to separate the seeds, but in a way that they keep part of the mucilage which is a fundamental coating to enhance fermentation processes, thus introducing essential organoleptic characteristics of each type of grain. This seems to be a technique relatively simple, but it requires great expertise and daily dedication. Although it demands great care and supervision, even monitoring the current weather type, able to present variations, which can put quality to compromise, this technique is very beneficial for the aim of having a high quality coffee in the end.


In conclusion, the methods of coffee harvesting play a crucial role in the flavor and quality of the coffee we enjoy. Whether it’s the labor-intensive handpicking method, the efficient strip picking method, or the technological advancements of machine harvesting, each method has its own impact on the final product. Coffee producers must carefully consider the best method for their specific needs, taking into account factors such as cost, quality, and quantity. As consumers, it’s important to be aware of these differences and to appreciate the hard work and expertise that goes into producing the coffee we love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *