This time of year, one can find coffee baskets full of red cherries by the side of coffee farms around the hills of the Central Valley. The pickers start early in the morning and wind their way down the rows of verdant coffee only plucking the bright red cherries from the bushes. Costa Rica is the only country in the coffee-growing world where all the coffee must be picked by hand. When the day ends, the pickers find their way to the weighing stations, where their cherries fill the metal container (half a fanega = 50 lbs) that measures the amount they have picked that day.
The beans are soaked to loosen the fruit around the beans and then put through a chanqueadora, a crushing or peeling machine which removes the skin and fruit from the coffee beans. There are usually two coffee seeds inside and these come apart in the machine. Now the seeds are fermented overnight in water and then drained and spread to dry in the sun on parijuelas, hammocks made of mesh that allows the air to dry the beans from below.
The pickers will pick the same coffee bushes three times over during the harvest season which lasts approximately three months (depending upon the weather conditions), beginning around October, and ending sometime in January. Our neighbors and friends love to join us during this season on their time off and the school children will help when their summer vacation begins. We invite our guests to join in with us in harvesting our coffee or take our famous Coffee Tour and encounter our pickers in the fields. If you would like to pitch in and pluck some coffee cherries with our crew, please just let us know and we will suit you up with a picking basket and a hat to keep the sun off.