It’s harvest time here in Brazil; the culmination of the year’s work and the moment when growers can finally transfer this work into a product they can sell. But not matter how good the coffee is on the tree, all can be lost if the harvest is not carefully planned and managed. The Magalhães Paiva family has been growing coffee for 5 generations at Fazenda Recanto. We asked them to give us some essential things that must be done pre-harvest to ensure that the quality makes its way from the tree to the bean.
1. Verify Coffee Fruit Maturation
One of the most important factors for producing quality coffee is to harvest each individual lot when it is at its peak maturation (and then separate out any unripe and overripe fruit in the post harvest). We collect fruit samples to determine which lots have a more homogeneous maturity level. With this information in hand, we plan out the harvest schedule.
2. Contract Workers for the Harvest
3. Distribute Protective Gear
4. Verify Harvest Intervals
Harvest intervals are the necessary time between any crop treatments (fertilizers, pesticides, etc) and when the crops can be harvested. Even though all products and doses we use are permitted by the Rainforest Alliance, we still must ensure that sufficient time has passed before harvesting. This also means that any pest and disease problems must be under control well before the harvesting begins since it is not possible to treat them during the harvest.
5. Clean the Corridors and Remove Vines
The coffee corridors are cleaned to ensure worker safety, facilitate the picking, and to remove any coffee fruit that may have prematurely fallen on the ground. Vines that have grown in the coffee trees impede the picking and their removal is necessary for an efficient harvest.
6. Clean and Calibrate
The silos, patio, dryer, and washer are cleaned to ensure that there is no residue from previous coffee crops that could cross-contaminate the new harvest. The maintenance of the machines is also essential because most of the harvesting equipment – harvesters, pulpers, dryers, etc – is used only during the harvesting period. The equipment must be fired up, tested, and calibrated to ensure that everything is working well before the harvesting begins. Any failures during the harvest can result in a decrease in quality, either because the machine is not properly doing its function (eg the pulper is leaving part of the skin on), or its breaking results in a bottleneck in the harvest.
About Fazenda Recanto
Fazenda Recanto is a Rainforest Alliance certified coffee farm in the hills outside of Machado, Minas Gerais. The Magalhães Paiva family has been growing coffee at Fazenda Recanto since 1896. Casa Brasil is proud to partner with Fazenda Recanto in bringing some of their award-winning Brazilian coffees to the US.