Harvesting Coffee

Coffee trees are usually harvested by one of two methods, either strip picking or selective picking.

Strip Picking of Coffee

Strip picking involves taking hold of a branch of the coffee tree and using a single motion to pull off all of the coffee cherry (fruit) on the branch at once. Strip picking is often used on dry processed coffees and on plants whose coffee cherry ripen all at the same time.

Selective Picking

Selective picking involves hand-picking only ripe coffee cherry, and returning numerous times to each coffee tree to again pick just the ripe berries.

Coffee Plant Yields

Coffee trees typically yield about two to three pounds (.9 to 1.3 kilograms) of marketable coffee beans each year, though an average annual yield may be only about one pound (.45 kg).

The Coffee Harvest Season

Coffee harvesting typically begins in the spring and continues for several months. For example, in the Kona region on the Big Island of Hawaii, harvesting of the coffee trees begins in April and then continues through the fall and winter months.

From January to May the small, fragrant white blossoms known as Kona Snow appear, soon giving way to green coffee beans.

The Ripening of the Coffee Cherry

When these fruits (called cherry) begin to ripen around the end of August, then the meticulous hand-picking begins.

Only the cherry at peak maturity – ripe red Kona coffee cherry – are harvested as the Kona coffee farmers return again and again to the fields to pick only the newly ripened cherry. The harvest season continues for several months, perhaps until February.

The coffee harvest season is a great time to take a Kona coffee farm tour and to attend the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival which is held throughout the Kona region every November.

Espresso and Coffee Brewing Tips

For tips on brewing the perfect cup of coffee see the Espresso Coffee Guide’s section on Coffee Brewing. For detailed definitions of coffee terminology see the Coffee and Espresso Glossary. You can also read detailed specialty coffee flavor profiles see Gourmet Coffees and Espresso Drink Recipes.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Alaa Al Awami Trading April 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

Dear Sir
We are a commercial Ala Awami we have a department of food and hope to import coffee to Saudi Arabia and the condition of pre-deal for the supplier company in Saudi Arabia.
So can you provide us with assistance for a company with high quality products and the prices are appropriate.

Thanks And regards,
Alaa

Marion Childress June 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Our family is crusing the Islands and will be in Hilo on June 22, 2011 and would like a tour of the farm. Wise have 14 people including a 10 month old. What is available?

Dr Vohs January 11, 2012 at 6:29 am

Thank you for your investment in teaching more about the things we take for granted. I have wanted to let our farmers know that their work sustains a society. I have wanted to thank you for educating others with your publication. I have just now found you and I am a new follower on twitter. Keep up the good work.

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