A Life of a Coffee Grower During Harvest Season

Angel Garcia

In Colombia, we have two coffee harvests per year, with the main harvest starting on Oct. 1st. This is the most meaningful time of the year because now you can see the literal fruit of your labor; Yes, coffee is a fruit, and the bean is its seed. Once a coffee bean reaches maturity, there’s still so much to do to get coffee from seed to cup, and all growers develop a routine or tradition to get their coffee ready for roasting and packing. 

We Start Our Mornings off Early!

The day begins around 4 AM with a hearty breakfast, coffee, and freshly squeezed fruit juice. Our Head Agronomist Gustavo’s wife makes the best juice from Maracuba, a cross between Passion Fruit and Badea that grows on the property. The juice gives you the boost to get going, and coffee is just a part of the morning ritual.

From there, it’s time to prepare for the day by wearing a sun hat known as a sombrero for Colombian coffee farmers, a regular shirt, jeans, and plastic boots that are ankle high.    

Assigned to a Section to Start Handpicking

Picking begins at 6 AM, and once the team arrives, the Head Agronomist or Majordomo assigns each person a section to start handpicking ripe coffee cherries. This takes much care, and consideration as the team is trained to sort the ripe from the rotten and selects only the best based on the grower standards. The ripe coffee cherries are held in a canasta, a basket around the waist.

On our farm, we grow and source specialty quality coffee, and there’s extensive training to understand how to select and sort our coffee cherries.

Break and Lunch around 11 AM

The Majordomo’s wife typically makes food for the team, which includes fresh fruits, vegetables, Chicharron Colombiano, rice, beans, and coffee. Everyone eats together at the community table overlooking the property and fields. It’s very peaceful; It Rains on and off, and birds always sing close by. Everyone shares stories, and the energy is very warm and inviting.

Back to Work

The rest of the day is approximately three hours of work with lots of laughter, chatting, and hydration breaks in between, but baskets or canastas are still being filled. The Majordomo and Head Agronomist inspect all coffee cherries for quality control, and pickers are paid daily. 

Coffee Pickers are paid based on the volume and quality of coffee cherries. There’s typically an announcement among pickers on who picked the most, and it’s celebrated with friendly teasing and jokes about the person being extra strong or fast. 

Processing

Although the day is over for the pickers around 4 PM, the Majordomo still has some work to do. Our property has a small beneficio where we process small batches of coffee cherries. Coffee cherries enter a chancador, which is a de-pulping machine. This is monitored as the coffee beans are cleaned using fresh water.

After de-pulping, the beans are thoroughly washed and transferred to a drying bed for approximately two weeks. Coffee beans drying on beds are rotated many times a day; this is everyone’s responsibility because it’s a crucial step in coffee cultivation. After completing, the Coffee Growers end their day by inspecting the fields and discussing goals for tomorrow. 

The workday ends around 6 PM. From there, it’s time for early rest and to repeat the process for the following day.