Coffee bean cherries or Puerto Rican Coffee that is ripe are normally harvested manually by hand from the coffee plant and they are usually stripped from the tree alongside the unripe ones (and are not pre-ground coffee or specialty coffee). The harvested coffee beans of Puerto Rico coffee is placed into baskets.
Sometimes, the beans are harvested by machine through a process known as selective picking or mechanical picking. Coffee is usually harvested during the dry season when the cherries appear bright red, firm, and glossy. In order to increase the number of ripe cherries collected, it is very necessary to handpick the ripe beans manually with the hand and from the tree and ensure that the unripe ones are left behind for harvesting on a later time–in an air-tight canister.
In order to increase the number of ripe cherries collected, it is very necessary to handpick the ripe beans manually with the hand and from the tree and ensure that the unripe ones are left behind for harvesting on a later time–in an air-tight canister.
Depending on the variety of the coffee bean, it can take between 3 and 4 years for a newly planted coffee plant to reach the minimum harvesting period. The fruit, referred to as the coffee cherry, usually turns bright or deep red when it is ripe and ready for harvesting. In most cases, there is usually a single harvest per year. In countries like Columbia, flowering time occurs twice; hence they have the primary and secondary crop and harvesting seasons for coffee beans.
Coffee beans are usually picked by hand, under some labor-intensive and stressful conditions. However, in countries such as Brazil where the land terrain is flat and the coffee fields are quite large, the process of harvesting can be mechanized.
Whether you are picking by hand or through mechanical means, coffee beans can be harvested or picked in two main ways:• Strip-picking – all the coffee beans or cherries are usually stripped off their branches at the same time, either through mechanical means or by hand.
- Selective picking – In this case, only the ripe beans are selected and they will be picked individually by the hand. Pickers who use this method normally rotate around the tree being picked every 8 to 10 days and they only consider the cherries that have reached the peak of ripeness. Selective picking is usually more labor intensive than strip picking and it is often more expensive too. Selective picking can be used in the harvesting of the Arabica beans that are considered to be finer than most other species.
Good coffee bean pickers usually pick between 100 and 200 pounds of coffee cherries a day, on the average, and these should be able to produce between 20 and 40 pounds of coffee beans at a time. The daily haul of each picker is weighed and gets paid based on merit before the harvested beans are transferred to the processing plant for further processing.
Once the ripe cherries have been handpicked, they are simply collected into a basket while the ones on the floor are raked together and packed into baskets. Alternatively, you can simply make use of netting or sheets and place them under the tree to collect the coffee beans as they fall the tree. Instead of picking the beans up one after the other, a catching net or piece of cloth will be more suitable.
Once the cherries have been collected, it is time to sort them, which basically means you must separate the ripe ones from the unripe ones.
In most cases, the unripe coffee cherries that accidentally fall can be wrapped up and placed somewhere, where they can ripen naturally; hence do not make the mistake of throwing unripe cherries away because they can contribute to the total costs of coffee bean weight per pound.
Make sure all leaves and branches are removed from the pack before you throw the refuse into a compost pile. Coffee machines may be faster, but you still need to spend some time sorting out the ripe from the unripe. Likewise, you still need to spend time removing other parts of the plants from the sorted cherries.
Commercial coffee makers often make use of large harvesting machines to remove ripe coffee cherries from the trees. Often, they haul down the entire tree and then plant new ones after the harvesting season and before the next growing season commences.
In some cases, harvesting machines often involve the machine shaking the trees in order for the coffee cherries to fall down. The problem with this is that the harvesting machine must collect every coffee cherry—if not they will be crushed by the tires of the machine.
Some harvesting machines come with brushes that simply sweep the berries off the trees—these brushes are attached to the teeth of the machine’s moving side at the front.
Once the cherries have been collected, the next step to take is to pulp them by simply squeezing the cherries in order to separate the seed or bean from the fruit. Once this separation has been concluded, the next step is to soak the beans. Even after you separate the beans from the fruit, some parts will still remain on the beans, hence soaking can help dissolve such.
You need to soak the beans in warm water for between 24 and 48 hours, in order to break the fruit down and separate it from the bean. The fruit will simply float to the top during the soaking; hence, they can be easily separated and discarded while the beans will go to the bottom where they can be easily collected.
Once the soaking is completed, you can mix them with the already separated dry beans and dry the mix together. Depending on the weather conditions in the area where the beans are dried, it may take between 10 and 30 days to complete the drying process.
Regardless of the number of days you spend drying the beans, it is always worth the wait. Make sure the beans are placed on wire mesh or somewhere on concrete that is under shade. Stir and rotate the beans every day during the drying period to ensure they dry evenly. The best possible way to confirm that the beans are dry is when the skin flakes or peels off easily.