Coffee growing and harvesting
Arabica beans are preferably grown in highlands at around 600 to 1,200 metres above sea level, which gives them a particularly high level of quality. Robusta beans, on the other hand, tend to be planted on lowlands at altitudes of just 300 to 800 metres above sea level.
These regions optimally fulfil the required conditions for growing coffee plants. A high-yield coffee harvest requires a stable climate with average temperatures of 18–25°C, as extreme temperature fluctuations and recurring temperatures of above 30°C or under 13°C are damaging to growth. Lots of wind and sunshine, as well as hard soil with little permeability, also damage growth.
Coffee plants produce their highest yield when they are between six and eight years old, with production volume falling sharply after approximately 20 years. The average harvest volume of a coffee plant is around one to two pounds (0.45 to 0.90 kg) of raw coffee per year.
Coffee harvesting methods
Picking or stripping
Various harvesting methods have been developed over the years.
The picking method provides the highest quality, as only the truly ripe coffee cherries are picked individually by hand. Of course, when you consider that 2.5 kg of coffee cherries have to be harvested to produce 500 g of coffee beans, it is clear that this harvesting method is time-intensive. This type of harvesting is mainly reserved for the valuable arabica beans.
Another method is stripping – also a hand-picking method – in which a lower quality level has to be accepted due to the fact that all the fruit, regardless of ripeness, is stripped from the bush in one go. Robusta coffee and Brazilian and Ethiopian arabica coffees are harvested in this way. In order to manage the huge Brazilian coffee plantations, picking machines, which comb the branches of the coffee trees, allowing the coffee cherries to drop into a collector, are used. Before the picked fruit is processed, dirt, leaves, etc. have to be removed.
Processing and roasting
How raw beans are turned into a gourmet product
Coffee cherries, which contain the coffee beans, grow on coffee plants.
The harvested raw beans are first dried or fermented – and then roasted. The most common processing method is the wet process, as it is said that this method brings out the high-quality aroma and flavour particularly well. In this process, the beans are separated from the pulp and immersed in water for 12 to 36 hours. Thereafter, the residual moisture is reduced to 12% in drying areas.
The first steps in the process take place in the countries of origin. However, the roasting – as it is an important step in the production of high-quality coffee – is performed by coffee roasters such as J.J.Darboven.
The roasting process has a decisive influence on the quality of a coffee. This is why it is a top priority for us at J.J.Darboven.