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coffee plant, flowering and harvesting coffee beans

Flowering and harvesting coffee beans

Coffee plants have to grow about 5 years before they can deliver a good harvest of coffee beans.

The flowers of the coffee plant have five petals. Flower buds develop after rainfall. The flower is the basis for the coffee bean that is formed. The berry (fruit) is formed after flowering, in each berry 2 seeds develop: the coffee beans.

After each rainy season the flowering and maturing cycle starts again. So on the same time a coffee plant will have blossoms and coffee berries: unripe, ripe and overripe coffee berries. As a result, there is not one occasion at which all the coffee berries can be harvested.

When we speak of 'picking' that means the harvesting proces is done manually, where only the ripe coffee berries are picked. With a mechanical harvesting method the farmer will harvest when most coffee berries are ripe (mechanically). All coffee berries are then mechanically removed from the branches. Before further processing, the coffee berries are stripped for dirt, leaves and twigs. For specialty coffees the unripe and overripe fruits are sorted.

Mechanical removal is an inefficient process, about 85% of the harvest of coffee beans is lost! Manual removal of coffee beans is very labor intensive but provides a better yield of return.

Harvested coffee berries are perishable and so must be processed further quickly.