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How is the coffee bean harvested?

Coffee can be processed in a number of different ways. The journey from seed to cup requires a series of decisions and there are a lot of ways you can do things. However, harvesting the coffee beans is the first step to the beans hitting our coffee cups. Usually, there are two methods that can be used, which we are going to explore here.

Selective harvesting 

Selective harvesting involves only picking the ripe coffee beans by hand. Any unripe beans will be left on the tree and looked at a few weeks later. The process is repeated multiple times so that all viable coffee beans will eventually be picked.

This method of harvesting is very labour intensive but has some great advantages. By being selective about the picking, all of the coffee beans this process produces are of the highest quality. The trees can also be planted more compactly, meaning that the land is being used much more efficiently by farmers.

Strip harvesting 

This process of harvesting coffee beans sees a machine strip them from the tree in one go. Using this method means that the coffee beans are at various stages of maturing, but it’s a lot less labour intensive and is the cheaper option too.

Strip harvesting coffee beans has been known to yield lower-quality produce but it’s a much more efficient process. There’s a lot more technology involved after the harvesting as well so that coffee beans can be assessed for their size and level of maturity.

Both of these harvesting methods have benefits and drawbacks, and they are just one step along the journey that a coffee bean grower has to decide on. One method isn’t necessarily better than the other in terms of product, but labour costs and quality of the beans can vary drastically from farm to farm.