Coffee is growing all year round in at least one of the roughly 70 coffee-growing countries. Each region has a different growing season, which usually lasts between 6-9 months. These overlapping seasons mean coffee is always growing somewhere.
This article sheds some light on the coffee growing season and how it’s harvested.
Why doesn’t coffee grow all year in each country?
Coffee is unable to grow all year in a country because it needs a consistent temperature of between 18-21°C (64-70°F) and consistent rainfall of between 4-6 inches (10-15 cm). Also, because coffee trees tae between 6-9 months to produce a harvest.
Te rainfall is especially important for growing arabica beans.
The long growing season makes it impossible to have more than one coffee harvest per year. But the off-season or dry season is a period of between 3-6 months where there is not enough rainfall to grow a healthy coffee crop.
The temperature during this period is also a little cooler and not optimal for growing ripe coffee cherries.
What seasons does coffee grow?
Coffee grown North of the equator usually grows between October-April and exports shortly after between April-July. Coffee grown South of the equator grows between April-September and exports between September-January.
It grows during season where the temperature is warmer and there is a consistent amount of rainfall. Studies have shown that even a single month without rainfall can negatively affects harvest.
Each country has a slightly different coffee growing season because of their unique climates. Especially because countries grow coffee at a variety of altitudes.
How long does it take coffee to grow?
Coffee has a 6-9 month growing season depending on the temperature, rainfall and altitude of the growing region. Higher-altitude coffee tends to grow more slowly and often requires a little more time to grow.
How long is the coffee harvest season?
It usually takes between 3-5 months to fully harvest a coffee farm. There is usually one large harvest per year when most of the coffee cherries are ripe. But smaller harvests often occur every 1-2 weeks to hand-pick the remaining cherries as they reach peak ripeness.
How is coffee harvested?
Coffee cherries are harvested using a variety of hand-picked and mechanical methods depending on the topography of the region and whether or not the producer wants to sell a commodity-grade coffee or specialty coffee.
Selective hand picking
Selective coffee picking is where people manually pick ripe coffee cherries. This allows the producer to curate the highest quality beans that will produce the best tasting coffee. This is the prefered method for specialty coffees.
The drawback is that it’s a highly labor-intensive process that is performed every 1-2 weeks as the cherries start to ripen.
Strip hand picking
Stip hand picking is where a manual laborer grabs and pulls his/her hand down a coffee tree branch to strip all of the cherries off into a container below. This harvesting method is faster than selective picking, but results in a mix of unripe and over-ripen cherries to be mixed in among the harvest.
Derricadeiras harvesting machines
Derricadeiras are hand-held devices that allow manual laborers to harvest coffee cherries quickly. The device is a stick with vibrating hand-shaped figures on the end. These hands shake coffee cherries free from their branches.
Similar to strip picking, a derricadeiras harvest will contain a mix of under and over-ripen cherries, which are not desirable for specialty grade coffee.
Stripping machines are vehicles with a special harvesting attachment. These machines are able to quickly strip coffee cherries from trees and with less labor requirements. This method also strips branches and leaves into the harvest, which adds more work post-harvest.
How many times a year do you harvest coffee?
Coffee trees are harvested once per year or during the growing season. Each coffee growing region usually harvests their crop during a 3-5 month period of the year. Producers who sell specialty grade coffee often harvest every 1-2 weeks over the harvesting season to make sure they only pick coffee cherries when they are at perfectly ripe.
Is coffee shipped year round?
Coffee is exported and shipped during every month of the year. However, countries North of the equator usually ship between September-March, while Southern countries ship between April-August. This is because of their differing growing seasons.