I thought picking blackcurrants was hard but at least all the fruits ripen at roughly the same time and for pickers the ground is generally level.
In Colombia’s coffee region a typical coffee grower works 1.6 hectares of land and picking takes place on a 45 degree slope. The Andes split into 2 cordilleras in Colombia and it’s still mighty hilly. The coffee finds perfect conditions in these high elevations where the temperature stays above 12C and it’s never dry for more than 40 days. Although the plants are pruned for size, it’s a stretch to reach the berries and a tough, uphill work moving them around and getting the beans to market.
Coffee country near Salento in the Quindio region of Colombia, west of Bogota.
The coffee berries ripen all year round and, although there are two main harvests in March and October, to maximize the yield, picking continues throughout the year. These stages from flowering through to ripe fruit were all picked from the same plant – on the same day!
On the plus side, the flowers smell faintly of gardenia.
In this picture, the dark red fruit is ready for picking, not the green ones though.
Once picked, the skin is removed – this is a small hand-driven version of the machine that does it.
The seeds are fermented in water and this removes the gelatinous membrane.
Then they are dried. On small farms this can be as simple as laying the beans out in the sun on a coffee sack and pulling the sacks under cover when it rains (which is fairly often).
Quality control is stringent, only the best beans make it to export quality which is too expensive for Colombians who drink what’s left – tinto with lots of sugar to disguise the bitterness.
This is the delosAndes cooperative in Andes, Antioquia.
The price paid for coffee has to be posted daily.
Colombian coffee farmers are represented by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia headed up by the mustachioed Juan Valdez. The brand began in 1981 to distinguish 100% Colombian coffee from coffee blended with beans from other countries.
At least it’s a beautiful place to work. Coffee country is muy bonito!
Kudos to coffee growers as we drink our morning lattes in Café de los Andes, Jardin! What’s the most labour intensive plant you’ve ever grown?