How to Harvest Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are grown on several different varieties of small evergreen bushes. The most common coffee trees are the coffea arabica and coffea robusta. Coffee is cultivated primarily in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The effect of consumption on humans, whether positive or negative, has been studied and debated with the results widely debated. Not to be debated, however, is that coffee has remained one of the most well-loved and widely-consumed drinks across the world.
Harvesting coffee is done by picking its red berries; the seed is nestled within the red, fleshy pulp of the berry. If you live in a tropical region or have access to a greenhouse, you can grow your own coffee trees. Follow these guidelines for harvesting and roasting your own hand-grown coffee beans.
Step 1 - Waiting for the Coffee Cherries to Ripen
About 2 to 4 years after planting, a coffee tree will produce small white blossoms that smell like jasmine. The flowers drop and are replaced by green berries which as they ripen will turn into a deep red color. The berry ripening process takes about 9 months.
Step 2 - Removing the Coffee Berries
In general, coffee beans can be harvested by either selective harvesting, which is done by hand, or stripping, which is done by machine. Selective harvesting produces the largest quantity of quality beans, since each berries is hand-picked when it is fully ripened. When done by machine, the tree is stripped all at once, pulling off unripened as well are ripened berries. In Brazil, the berries tend to ripen at the same time, and so this method is fairly effective. For small harvests, or for coffee crops that don't ripen all at once, selective harvesting is a good choice.
Step 3 - Processing Coffee Beans
After removing the bean from its red, fleshy fruit, it will be green. The dark color of coffee beans is created through roasting. Processing a coffee bean can be done by dry milling or wet milling. Dry milling is a simpler process, either allowing to dry in the sun or using a drying machine. Wet milling is more complex, but it is the preferred method. Wet milling includes a period of fermentation where coffee beans soak for some time in large tanks. Before and after fermenting, beans are dried as well.
Step 4 - Roasting Coffee Beans
After processing, your coffee beans are still raw and green. Before consumption, coffee beans are usually roasted to produce a less bitter flavor. Roasting can be done at home by placing coffee beans in a oiled skillet with a lid and shaking like you would to make popcorn. You can also roast coffee bean in the oven at 475 degrees F. Place coffee beans in a single layer on a tray. When you are roasting coffee beans, they will begin to pop for some time. When the popping begins to change in pitch and intensity, your coffee beans are probably fully roasted.
Your coffee beans are ready to grind and brew. Enjoy!