The Coffee Pickers
The Coffee Bean's Journey Continues
Once the coffee cherries are ripe and red they need to be handpicked.
Sometimes these are on extremely steep hills and pickers use ropes to support their upward picking, but surprisingly most don't!
A good picker will pick around 150kg of coffee cherries per day. Their working day usually starts at 6am and finishes around 4pm. All their meals are provided by the farm whilst they are working, and lunchtime is a really social occasion. They are transported to and from the local villages at the beginning and end of their working day.
The farm we visited employs around 300 pickers and is the largest employer in the local area. Their workers are paid per kg and regularly empty their baskets at a weigh point to clock up their daily quota.
The Coffee Beans have their pulp removed
Once the coffee cherries have been hand picked, they need to be de-pulped.
The cherries come in from the top and the pulp is removed, leaving the cherry stone still encased in its parchment skin.
It can either be soaked in water for around 24 hours, or simply dried; either way the coffee is then spread out on large patios for drying. Often, if a small farm doesn't have the facility to dry, the cooperative who buy the coffee from them dry it on their roofs. Interestingly the weight of coffee cherries is huge compared to the final dried cherry stones, it requires some 450kg of red cheery to produce a 70kg sack, which equates to 3 days of hand picking!
Once the coffee has dried, it is put into sacks and taken to be sold, where its journey continues on to the mill, but more on the milling and sorting process next time!