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Is the quality of coffee harvested by machines superior to that of manually harvested coffee?


Producing high-quality coffee not only demands good farming practices but also depends on optimal harvesting. Many farms choose to pick fruit manually to ensure the highest level of ripeness and integrity. However, this method requires a lot of effort, time, cost, and a high skill level. Therefore, some farmers have turned to mechanization to save costs and improve efficiency. However, the question remains: does mechanized coffee harvesting yield better quality than manual harvesting? Explore with 43 Factory Coffee Roaster!


What is manual coffee harvesting?


Manual coffee harvesting refers to picking coffee by hand. On some commercial coffee farms, workers will harvest all the coffee cherries at the same time. The usual technique used is band picking. Workers pick around the base of the branches, dragging their hands along to pull out all the coffee cherries. 

For farms targeting the specialty coffee market, the manual method used is called selection. Workers need professional skills and experience to pick coffee cherries that are fully ripe, and free of defects and insects. The process of selective hand-picking also requires workers to harvest many times to ensure all fruits are uniformly ripe. This will help the coffee batch achieve high quality with a more delicate and diverse sweetness.

thu hoạch cà phê cơ giới hoá có chất lượng hơn thu hoạch thủ công

Specialty coffee farmers choose selective manual methods to ensure quality


What is mechanized coffee harvesting?


Mechanized coffee harvesting is used to refer to workers using tools to shake and separate coffee during the harvesting process. There are two different types of machines used in this method derricadeiras and stripping machines. 

Derricadeiras are small handheld machines, with long sticks with two vibrating hands at the end. Workers will spread plastic or tarpaulin under the coffee tree to catch falling coffee cherries. They then activate the derricadeiras and hold it against the coffee branch. This will cause the fruit to fall onto tarpaulins placed underneath the tree, making harvesting easier. 

Stripping machines are large carts with rotating and vibrating bars to drop the fruit. When using this type of machine, coffee will fall into a system of large plates and tubes and quickly transfer them into the container. The machine has a large size and capacity, so it saves time and capacity. However, they can only be used in relatively flat lands.

thu hoạch cà phê cơ giới hoá có chất lượng hơn thu hoạch thủ công

Derricadeiras are small, handheld machines with long sticks with “two metal hands.”


Is harvesting coffee by machine or harvesting by hand better quality?


High-end or specialty coffee lines require perfection and consistency in bean quality and flavor. To achieve balance, consistency, and richness across the entire batch, each coffee bean needs to achieve uniform ripeness. Unripe or overripe fruits will add an unpleasant taste to the cup, even causing unpleasant flavors, and affecting the value of coffee.

In contrast, the selective manual coffee harvesting method offers precise control over fruit quality. The picked fruit is carefully selected at the right time to be ripe enough to limit pest infection. Furthermore, manual picking requires meticulous and regular inspection to help farmers collect information about the plant’s condition, helping to prevent pests and diseases and supplement nutrition on time. From there, coffee can improve productivity and quality. Therefore, specialty coffee farmers apply manual and selective methods to ensure good quality.

thu hoạch cà phê cơ giới hoá có chất lượng hơn thu hoạch thủ công

Selective manual coffee harvesting methods allow for precise control of fruit quality

Nevertheless, mechanized harvesting methods can assist farmers in achieving grain quality comparable to manual selection through various techniques. For example, workers can adjust the machine’s vibration speeds to collect the ripest fruit. Additionally, they can invest more in post-harvest quality control. Farmers can use water tanks to separate coffee cherries based on their level of ripeness or do it manually.

Both manual and mechanized harvesting methods contribute to achieving high-quality finished products. While harvesting demands time and effort, mechanization also requires investment in skills and capital. Therefore, the choice of method depends on each farm’s size, financial capacity, and available resources.

thu hoạch cà phê cơ giới hoá có chất lượng hơn thu hoạch thủ công

Image of a farm using mechanized coffee harvesting methods

Each step is an important piece of the puzzle that contributes to completing the larger process. Coffee production is a long journey with many stages. It requires maximum meticulousness, care, and effort from many people to create quality products. If you want to enjoy high-quality specialty coffee flavors, visit XLIII Coffee stores – The brand developed from 43 Factory Coffee Roaster!

Follow 43 Factory Coffee Roaster’s news channel regularly to update industry information!

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