Have you always wondered what life is like on a coffee farm? Read about a farmer’s working day during the busiest time of the year – the harvesting season.
The sun rises and the cock crows to mark the beginning of a new day. The day of a coffee farm usually begins early in the morning. Many farmers keep farm animals – such as cocks, hens, goats and sheep – as a source of additional income. Often the farms also cultivate something else in addition to coffee, such as bananas or corn.
The family eats breakfast together. After breakfast, the children head off to school and the parents toward the coffee plantations.
The day ahead is long, since everyday life is at its most hectic during harvest time. The picking of the ripe red coffee cherries marks only the beginning of a process consisting of a number of phases before the beans are ready to be sold.
The harvest time varies according to the coffee country’s geographic location, for example. Therefore, coffee is harvested somewhere on the planet on every day of the year. In Brazil, for instance, harvesting begins in April, whereas in Kenya, the picking of the main harvest will not begin until the end of the year. The harvesting takes about four months. Harvesting can begin once the coffee cherries have ripened to a deep red or yellow colour.
The lunch break arrives at midday. Farmers often eat their lunch at the plantations, particularly if the farm is not right next to their home.
Depending on the country and production region, the coffee is picked either by hand or machine. Manual picking is typical in Africa, Colombia and Central America, and particularly in areas where coffee plantations are mostly located on steep mountainsides and cherries ripen unevenly. In Brazil, mechanical picking is possible due to level plantations located on plains and evenly ripening harvests.
The day is drawing to a close, but it’s not over yet. This is because the picked coffee cherries must still be processed. This can be done in a number of different ways: the dry or wet method or the semi-washed method. The different methods of processing produce coffees of different texture and flavour. The most important thing, however, is the careful treatment of the beans and the use of only high-quality coffee cherries.
At dusk, it is time to get back home and have dinner with the family. Working days can turn out to be long during the busiest harvesting season. The coffee plantations have been tended carefully for months and now this labour is bearing fruit. Due to the nine months it takes for coffee cherries to ripen, many farmers think of the coffee as if it were their own baby and the regard for the raw material on the farms is in a league of its own.