Mihkel Jürimaa //
// 28.11.2019

What happens in a coffee farm? Coffee bean's journey from a nursery to green coffee

Have you ever wondered what happens in a coffee farm before the beans are roasted by a coffee roastery? Coffee farms come in different sizes and all have different methods of farming and processing but here is one example from Kenya where I visited early 2019. 

The coffee farm that these picture are from is located in Nyeri, Kenya. It's owned by David who I interview about coffee farming during my trip. Make sure to read also my previous blog where I explain these things more deeply. This blog is all about pictures. :)

coffee tree nursery

Coffee tree are grown from the coffee cherry's seeds (=beans) and young coffee tree are in a nursery before they are planted to their final destination.

flower in a coffee tree

Each flower in a coffee tree is a sign of a future coffee cherry in few months. Flowering starts the coffee tree's crop season.

coffee cherries when green

About two months after the flowering, green coffee cherries start to appear in the coffee tree. Cherries in the picture are still raw so they will need 4-8 months to mature into a deep red cherry.

red and yellow coffee cherries

These red and yellow cherries are almost ready to be picked. 

coffee picker picking cherries

Once the cherries are deeply red, they are mature and ready to be picked. As you can see in the picture, not all cherries mature at same time so the harvesting can not be done all at once.

coffee cherries in a basket

Red coffee cherries carried to the processing station.

coffee cherries sorted

Before the cherries are processed, they are sorted so raw and too mature cherries are removed from the lot.

washed coffee depulping

In washed coffee processing the cherries need to be pulped before the beans can be fermented and washed. In pulping the cherries' fruit flesh is removed by a depulper ("a mill").

washed coffee depulped

And this is how the beans look after pulping. 

coffee beans fermented

There is still some fruit flesh and mucilage left on the beans which is why the beans need to be fermented in water tanks for 24-48 hours. Fermenting enhances the bright and acidic flavors in the beans.

washed coffee beans

After fermentation the beans are washed with fresh water.

green coffee beans in kenya

Washing and fermentation makes the beans quite moist so they need to transferred to drying station. In Africa it's common to use raised beds for the drying.

drying coffee beans

The beans need to dry for ~10-22 depending on climate (temperature, moisture and sun light). 

drying coffee beans on a patio

The beans need to be moved constantly during drying so that they don't get moldy.

green coffee defects

Defected beans need to be sorted from the good ones so that they don't ruin the cup quality. Defect in coffee means that the bean doesn't meet the standards and it has been ruined by farm condition, coffee processing or roasting. Often defects can be seen visually in the beans (it's black, cracked, visual mold etc.) but some defects can be seen or tasted after roasting.