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This Week in Coffee: Farming-Harvest

Happy first day of spring! It feels like winter, but still, the long thaw has begun! If you have been cooped up this blizzard season, come on out and join us for some delicious coffee from Gracenote Coffee, espresso from George Howell Coffee, tea from Rishi and Mem, or even a cup of cold brew!

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Continuing from last couple of weeks, we are serving the George Howell’s La Soledad Espresso from Guatemala. This roast is sweet and bright, with flavors of apple, pear, and brown sugar. Currently remaining on the pourover menu is Gracenote’s Konga from Ethiopia and Bellavista Cortes from Colombia. Konga is light and floral with flavors of guava, jasmine, and marshmallow. Bellavista Cortes is  sweet and smooth with flavors of cherry cola, lemon, and cocoa.

Focus on Farming: Harvest Season

In our recent Focus on Farming Series, we have brought you basic information about the many factors that affect coffee farming and create differences in the taste of different coffees. After a quick overview, we have highlighted details about soil characteristics, climate, altitude, and varietals. Today, we move past the growing season to focus on the harvest.

Harvest occurs at different times in different coffee growing regions. The exact time of ripening of coffee cherries (and thus the time for harvesting) is dependent on climate, topography, and varietal. After a wide-spread harvest in January and February, currently many coffee producers are busy processing and exporting their coffee to roasters around the world. First up, roasters can expect samples and imports from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Colombia. For a general month-to-month understanding of when harvesting happens in different countries, check out this interactive map from Counter Culture Coffee.

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Hand-picked Cherries Ready for Sorting at the Start of Harvest Season at Mamuto Farm in Kenya, Photo Courtesey of George Howell Coffee

There are a couple of different methods for harvesting coffee. The first, and most common in specialty coffee is hand picking. Hand picking allows farmers to harvest only the cherries that are perfectly ripe. Often this means that the same coffee plant will need to be harvested multiple times, as cherries on a single plant will not all ripen at the same moment. For more information on hand picking, see this page by Stumptown Roasters.

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Mechanical Harvester at Daterra Farm in Brazil, Photo Courtesey of George Howell Coffee

Used on larger farms with flat landscape is another harvest option: mechanical harvesting. Harvesters like the one pictured above at Daterra Farm in Brazil, drive down rows of coffee plants, striping the cherries off the branches. Cherries are moved into two side storage containers while twigs and leaves are shot back out of the machine and periodically pulled out of the powered down machine when it gets clogged. After the harvester, a recollector comes through to vacuum up loose cherries and debris from the ground. For more photos, videos, and explanation of this mechanical process, see George Howell’s photo collection from his 2010 trip to Daterra Farm.

Has this “Focus on Farming” series brought up any coffee related questions for you? We would love to hear them! Email any questions to coffee@ridestudiocafe.com and we will be sure to address the answers in upcoming blog posts.