This is a very important part of the year for us … coffee farmers. We are beginning our harvesting period, and the fruit of our work will be rated. However, our work is still not finished and harvesting plays a critical part in the quality of coffee. Even if the coffee trees have been properly nourished, guarded from diseases, protected from the wind and from too much sunshine; if the coffee is not picked at the proper ripeness the quality will be damaged.
Ripeness can be determined by the colour of the cherry. The best time to harvest is when the cherries are red, just before they begin turning into a dark violet colour.
During the harvesting, workers put into their baskets only the “red coloured” cherries. At the end of the day, they go through what they have picked and separate the ripe red cherries from any green, unripe (orange-yellowish), over ripe (violet) or dry cherries that might have been picked.
Full mature cherries will produce the sweet taste we look for in a Specialty Coffee cup. The terroir and the environment that surrounds the coffee forest will also accent floral, nuts and fruit notes that will be perceived in the aroma and cupping profile of the coffee. Once the coffee has been picked it begins its natural fermentation process; therefore, it is important to take the coffee to the mill for same day processing.
Why can the different levels of ripeness damage the quality of the cup?
Green and Unripe cherries are coffee beans that did not finish their evolution process. They will give an astringent taste to the cup quality, thus affecting its sweetness. Over ripe cherries and cherries that are not processed on the same day of harvest will give a sour fermented and unpleasant taste.
Our farms are beginning to turn red, in the next few weeks we will begin the picking of red ripe cherries. The mountains are looking beautifully green and red, and soon we will hear the sound and echoes of our workers singing and laughing while they enjoy the new harvesting period. Trees will be filled with sweet, honey, juicy coffee cherries that will be exported around the world.