From Seed to Harvest
Seedlings are cultivated and planted at different levels of intensity, from 2,000 seedlings per hectare (40% of an acre) to 12,000 seedlings for much larger yields. Only in their third year do the Coffee bushes become commercially viable, their peak capacity is achieved during years 4 to 10 and after 20 years of life the bushes yield begins to decline. Careful and sophisticated husbandry on these farms is essential as the plants are vulnerable to rust (a fungus) and insect damage (Borer beetle which drills into the beans) and all bushes must be cleared of all debris such as dislodged berries after the harvest has been completed to prevent this. Ensuring that the right amount of nutrients and suitable irrigation is afforded to the coffee bushes at all times will enable the trees to remain vibrant and healthy.
After the flowering process has been completed, which at this time looks like the bushes are snow- capped and is a wonderfully fragrant time for these gardens, three weeks after this event the bushes germinate with small balls coming through, another 6 – 8 months later and these fruits ripen into Red and Yellow cherries.
Depending on the style of plantation, when the berries are ripe to be harvested, these cherries will be handpicked, stripped from the branch or have huge mechanical arches that run over the lines of bushes and which vibrates the trees dislodges the cherries and also bits of twig and leaf.
Once harvested, the task is to get the picked cherries transported to the process facility within 2 hours of harvest otherwise mould will set in (twigs and leaves that are collected are to be used as a natural fertiliser and replanted back into the bushes roots).
The primary purpose is to dry the seeds (inside the cherry), mature cherries are soaked in water to clean and separate them from the twigs and leaves and to clean off any impurities that exist and most importantly reduce the humidity within the Bean.