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What happens in a coffee farm? Coffee bean's journey from a nursery to green coffee

Written by Mihkel Jürimaa in Tallinn

Have you ever wondered what happens in a coffee farm before the beans are roasted by a coffee roastery? Coffee farms come in different sizes and all have different methods of farming and processing but here is one example from Kenya where I visited early 2019. 

The coffee farm that these picture are from is located in Nyeri, Kenya. It's owned by David who I interview about coffee farming during my trip. Make sure to read also my previous blog where I explain these things more deeply. This blog is all about pictures. :)

Coffee tree are grown from the coffee cherry's seeds (=beans) and young coffee tree are in a nursery before they are planted to their final destination.

Each flower in a coffee tree is a sign of a future coffee cherry in few months. Flowering starts the coffee tree's crop season.

About two months after the flowering, green coffee cherries start to appear in the coffee tree. Cherries in the picture are still raw so they will need 4-8 months to mature into a deep red cherry.

These red and yellow cherries are almost ready to be picked. 

Once the cherries are deeply red, they are mature and ready to be picked. As you can see in the picture, not all cherries mature at same time so the harvesting can not be done all at once.

Red coffee cherries carried to the processing station.

Before the cherries are processed, they are sorted so raw and too mature cherries are removed from the lot.

In washed coffee processing the cherries need to be pulped before the beans can be fermented and washed. In pulping the cherries' fruit flesh is removed by a depulper ("a mill").

And this is how the beans look after pulping. 

There is still some fruit flesh and mucilage left on the beans which is why the beans need to be fermented in water tanks for 24-48 hours. Fermenting enhances the bright and acidic flavors in the beans.

After fermentation the beans are washed with fresh water.

Washing and fermentation makes the beans quite moist so they need to transferred to drying station. In Africa it's common to use raised beds for the drying.

The beans need to dry for ~10-22 depending on climate (temperature, moisture and sun light). 

The beans need to be moved constantly during drying so that they don't get moldy.

Defected beans need to be sorted from the good ones so that they don't ruin the cup quality. Defect in coffee means that the bean doesn't meet the standards and it has been ruined by farm condition, coffee processing or roasting. Often defects can be seen visually in the beans (it's black, cracked, visual mold etc.) but some defects can be seen or tasted after roasting.

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