When do I start harvesting coffee and how do I maintain the good quality?
Answer: The final quality of coffee depends on how the harvesting and drying done. If you harvest immature coffee beans, then the dried beans will also be of a poor quality. If you harvest mature beans, then the dried beans will be good.
When picking coffee, carefully pick only the mature red beans and leave the green ones on the tree to ripen. Always pick, do not strip beans. Spread a tarpaulin or any other sheet on the ground under the coffee tree to prevent the beans from directly dropping to the ground. The sheets will also ensure proper collection of all the beans and minimise contamination. If the beans drop on the bare ground, they should be picked carefully so that they are not contaminated with soil.
Remove all inferior or green beans, leaves, twigs and foreign matter from harvested beans. Pick coffee every after two weeks, to get better quality. When harvesting is done, the next step is drying and processing. Coffee farmers lose up to 30% of their harvest due to poor handling during drying and processing. This is mainly due to moulding as a result of slow drying or poor ventilation in the storage units of dried coffee. Such coffee also develops off-flavours, which eventually affect its cupping quality. Most of these losses are avoidable if the farmer takes an extra effort to carefully handle harvested produce.
Dry the coffee on raised beds or a clean tarpaulin on the ground. The beds can be constructed using pegs that are about two and half feet off the ground, covered with wire mesh. After drying, coffee should be packed in clean sacks and stored in a wellaerated structure. This can be a house, but with fairly large windows.