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Coffee Farming & Harvesting

By :Hassan Mohamed 3 comments

First you have to know what specialty coffee is

The term ‘Specialty coffee’ or ‘Speciality coffee’ is used to refer to coffee that is graded 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCAA) or by a licensed Q Grader(CQI).

Specialty coffees are coffees at their peak and are different to other coffee because specialty coffee has been grown at the perfect altitude, at the correct time of year, in the best soil, and then picked at just the right time. All this translates into some of the most exciting and tasty coffee in the world.

Speciality coffee is defined as any coffee that scores above 80 points on a 100 point scale.

Typically, speciality coffee is grown at high altitudes, with much care and attention from the farmer. From there, it is sold at a premium to coffee traders, or direct to roasters.

The roasters then create custom profiles for each coffee, enhancing and highlighting their natural flavours.

Baristas then use the carefully grown and roasted coffee to produce quality beverages, often with high precision and specialised equipment.







Specialty Coffee



Specialty Coffee


Very Good

Specialty Coffee


Below Specialty Quality

Not Specialty Coffee



When a coffee tree reaches maturity, which can take from 4 - 7 years, it begins to bear fruit in clusters along its branches. Referred to as cherries, the fruit is initially green and turns red when it is ready for harvesting.

Beneath the cherries' red skin ( called exocarp ) is a pulp ( called mesocarp ), and outer layer and a parchment-like covering the bean ( called endocarp ). Inside these layers are usually two oval shaped beans, with their flat side facing each other. Harvesting time for coffee cherries will vary by region and altitude. Typically, there is only one harvest per year, which will last for 2 to 3 months as cherries ripen.

In countries North of the Equator harvest occurs from September to March. South of the Equator harvest is from April to August. In some countries where there is no clearly defined wet and dry seasons there will be two flowerings and harvests per year. Kenya is one of these countries which has it's main crop followed by it's "fly" crop which is generally much smaller than the main crop.

Traditionally coffee is harvested by hand by one of two ways: strip picking or selective picking.

Strip picking is exactly how it sounds, trees are harvested entirely at one time "stripping" all the beans off the branches, ripe as well as unripe cherries. Typically, only Robusta coffee is strip picked. Modernization has provided machine harvest for Robusta coffee which simply shakes the trees knocking of all the cherries at one time.

Selective picking involves making numerous passes over coffee trees, selecting only the ripe cherries, then returning to the tree several times over a few weeks to pick remaining cherries as they ripen. Selective picking is more expensive due to the labor involved and is only used for Arabica coffee.

On an average farm, pickers gather between 100 and 200 pounds of cherries per day. Out of this only 20 percent is actual coffee beans. Of that 20 percent only a small amount is of the best quality we choose for our coffee.

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