¿How is coffee harvested?

Coffee is a highly consumed beverage worldwide; its exquisite taste and aroma are due to meticulous harvesting. Coffee beans are nothing more than the seeds found inside the coffee cherry.

The coffee harvest is a critical process to ensure the quality of the final product. There are various coffee harvesting methods, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I present the most common methods and explain what each one consists of.

The main methods for harvesting coffee

The way coffee beans are harvested has a great impact on their final quality and production cost.

There are several harvesting methods available, each with its advantages and disadvantages in terms of efficiency, cost, and product quality:

  1. Picking (handpicking berry by berry)
  2. Stripping (handpicking groups of berries)
  3. Mechanical harvesting

1. The Picking method (handpicking berry by berry)

Picking is the most artisanal method, considered to produce the highest quality coffee. However, it is important to mention that it is also the most expensive due to the extensive time required for the harvest.

The harvesting method Picking
The harvesting method of Picking

Picking is a meticulous selection by experienced pickers, who manually choose only berries that have reached their optimal maturity (red or orange).

Berries that have not yet reached this point (green) are left on the branches to complete their ripening process before being collected later. This way, superior results are achieved in terms of the quality of the final beverage.

2. The Stripping method (manual picking of berry groups)

Due to its lower cost and greater speed in harvesting, this method can affect the quality of the beans, as berries of different degrees of maturity and, therefore, with different flavors and aromas are collected.

The Stripping harvesting method
The Stripping harvesting method

The Stripping method also involves a form of manual harvesting of coffee berries, although with less precision. In this case, one hand is held around the branch’s base, and a pull is made outward, causing all the berries to fall into a basket.

3. The Mechanical method

Although this method is faster and more economical, the quality of the obtained coffee can be affected due to the presence of green or overripe berries, which affect the taste and aroma of the final product.

Mechanical harvesting method
Mechanical harvesting method

In this case, a large machine moves through the rows of the plantation, shaking the plants and causing all the fruits to fall to the ground. Later, the beans are collected from the ground.

The low quality depends on several factors.

Through the massive collection, all berries are collected without discrimination, including those not yet ripened and those that have passed their optimal point of maturity.

As a result, the obtained beans may present undesirable characteristics in terms of taste and aroma, such as the presence of astringent and herbaceous notes originating from the immature berries. This coffee may also have mold and alcohol odors originating from overripe drupes.

It is common for the collected berries to drag along leaves, sticks, pebbles, dirt, and other elements present on the ground. These objects can get trapped in the mesh used to collect the coffee and, if not carefully cleaned, can contaminate the resulting green coffee.


It is important to note that the product’s final quality depends not solely on the collection method but other factors that influence the process. However, to fully understand the coffee we acquire, it is essential to know each of the steps and processes it has undergone.