Five years after planting, the coffee berries ripen from green to red and they are harvested. Coffee plants are usually harvested either by strip picking or by selective picking. When strip picking, all the coffee cherries are removed off an entire branch at the same time. Additional sorting is required later on, to separate the ripen coffee cherry from the rest. By contrast, hand picking will only remove the ripen coffee fruit, but requires returning to the same tree several times for only the ripe berries. There is almost no sorting required afterwards.
Sometimes machines are used to harvest coffee, mostly if the plantation is on a flat area. The trees are shaken, and the berries are harvested off the ground, and sorted afterwards. Typically harvesting starts in spring and can take a few months.
Processing the Coffee Harvest
The coffee cherries are processed so that their outer layers are separated from the inner coffee seed ("beans"). There are three major types of processing the harvested coffee cherry: natural dry, semi-washed and washed.