How to Harvest Coffee Beans: A Guide to Crafting Your Morning Brew

Are you a coffee lover who dreams of savoring the perfect cup of joe from your very own coffee beans? If so, you’re in the right place! In this guide, we will walk you through the process of how to harvest coffee beans so you can enjoy a fresh and flavorful brew every morning. From picking the ripe cherries to roasting the beans, we’ve got you covered.

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need

To get started on your coffee bean harvesting journey, you’ll need a few essential tools and equipment. These include baskets or buckets for collecting cherries, pruning shears for harvesting, and a pulping machine for processing. Make sure you have these on hand before you begin.

Coffee beans

Understanding Coffee Bean Harvesting

Let’s delve deeper into the process of coffee bean harvesting and the factors that contribute to the quality of the final product.

The Coffee Cherry and Its Role

Coffee beans, as you may know, are the seeds found inside the coffee cherry, also known as the coffee fruit. These cherries don’t just contain the beans you’re familiar with; they also consist of several layers that play a significant role in the flavor and aroma of your coffee.

Cultivation: The Beginning of the Journey

The journey of your coffee beans starts with the cultivation of coffee trees. Coffee plants are typically grown in regions with suitable climates, including tropical and subtropical areas. Factors such as altitude, rainfall, and temperature can all influence the flavor profile of the beans. For instance, high-altitude coffee beans often develop a more complex flavor due to slower maturation.

The Importance of Careful Picking

Once the coffee cherries have grown and ripened, it’s time for the crucial step of picking. The timing of this process is crucial, as harvesting too early or too late can affect the final flavor. Ripe cherries are bright red, and the selection of only these cherries ensures the best-quality beans. Unripe cherries will not contribute the desired flavor and can be sour or bitter when processed.

Coffee beans harvest

Processing Methods

After picking, the coffee cherries need to undergo processing to separate the beans from the surrounding pulp and mucilage. There are two primary methods for this: wet processing and dry processing.

  1. Wet Processing: 

In this method, the cherries are pulped to remove the outer skin and then fermented to remove the mucilage. This process is known for producing cleaner and brighter coffee profiles, with a more pronounced acidity.

  1. Dry Processing:

 In contrast, dry processing involves drying the whole cherries in the sun before mechanically removing the outer layers. This method can result in a fuller body and a more earthy, fruity flavor.

The choice between these methods can significantly impact the taste of the coffee, and it often depends on the coffee bean variety, local traditions, and the desired flavor profile.

Why Drying Coffee Beans is Important

After the coffee cherries have been processed to remove the outer layers, the beans still contain a significant amount of moisture. This residual moisture can be a breeding ground for mold and other pathogens if not reduced to an acceptable level. Additionally, the moisture content in the beans affects their stability during storage and the overall flavor profile of the coffee.

Sun Drying: A Traditional Approach

One common method for drying coffee beans is sun drying. This method involves spreading the freshly processed beans in a single layer on large, open surfaces like patios, raised beds, or mats, and allowing them to be exposed to the sun’s heat and air. Sun drying is often favored in regions with consistent and dry climates, as it is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach.

The Art of Sun Drying

Proper sun drying demands meticulous attention and care. Here are the key steps involved:

  • Spreading: To ensure proper airflow and even drying, workers spread the freshly processed beans out evenly in a thin layer.
  • Regular Turning: Workers must regularly turn or stir the beans to prevent uneven drying and ensure uniform drying. They often perform this step multiple times a day.
  • Covering at Night: To protect the beans from moisture during nighttime or inclement weather, workers cover them or store them in a controlled environment.
  • Consistent Monitoring: Workers consistently monitor the moisture content of the beans throughout the drying process to determine when they reach the desired moisture level, typically around 11-12%.
  • Ensuring Cleanliness: To prevent contamination and avoid contact with soil or debris, it is important to keep the drying area clean.

Mechanical Drying: A Controlled Approach

In regions with unpredictable weather or high humidity, mechanical drying equipment is often employed to ensure consistent and controlled drying conditions. Mechanical dryers use heated air to speed up the evaporation of moisture from the beans.

The Advantages of Mechanical Drying

Mechanical drying presents several advantages:

  • Control: Precise control over the drying process allows for consistent results, unaffected by external weather conditions.
  • Speed: Mechanical drying typically outpaces sun drying, minimizing the risk of spoilage.
  • Capacity: This method can process large quantities of beans simultaneously, making it ideal for commercial coffee production.

Choosing the Right Drying Method

The choice between sun drying and mechanical drying depends on various factors, including climate, available resources, and the scale of coffee production. Some coffee producers opt for a combination of both methods to achieve the desired results.


Storing Your Coffee Beans

Airtight Containers: Your Best Friends

To protect your coffee beans from these adversaries, airtight containers are your best allies. These containers create a sealed environment that prevents exposure to air, light, heat, and moisture. Here’s how to choose and use airtight containers effectively:

  1. Material: Opt for containers made of materials that do not impart any unwanted flavors or odors to your beans. Glass, stainless steel, and ceramic containers are excellent choices.
  2. Seal: Ensure that the container has a tight-fitting seal. This prevents air from entering and keeps the beans fresh for a more extended period.
  3. Size: Choose a container that fits the quantity of coffee beans you typically use within a reasonable time frame. It’s best not to overfill the container to leave some space for air circulation.

Storage Location Matters

Beyond using airtight containers, where you store your coffee beans also makes a significant difference. Here are some tips for finding the perfect spot:

  1. Cool and Dark: Store your coffee beans in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources like stovetops or ovens. A pantry or cupboard is an ideal location.
  2. Consistency: Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level in the storage area. Fluctuations can cause condensation, which can lead to moisture buildup in the container.
  3. Avoid the Fridge and Freezer: Contrary to popular belief, refrigerating or freezing coffee beans is not recommended. These environments can introduce moisture and odors, compromising the beans’ integrity and flavor.

Roasting: The Final Transformation

Roasting is the last, but arguably the most influential, step in the coffee bean’s journey. The roasting process involves subjecting the beans to high temperatures, causing them to undergo chemical changes that develop the coffee’s flavor, aroma, and color. Roast levels can range from light to dark, each producing distinct taste profiles.

Brewing and Enjoying

Finally, after all these stages, your coffee beans are ready to be ground, brewed, and enjoyed. The care and attention given to each step of the coffee bean harvesting process ultimately shape the flavor and quality of your morning cup of coffee.


In conclusion, learning how to harvest coffee beans is a rewarding journey for any coffee enthusiast. From selecting the right varieties to enjoying the final product, there’s something truly special about brewing your coffee from start to finish. So, grab your tools, embrace the process, and savor the satisfaction of a delicious, homegrown cup of coffee.

About the Author Leman Acosta