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Harvest Season

Cantando
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Cafe This year's coffee harvest season has begun.  The coffee doesn't ripen all at once so it has to be picked in several separate rounds spread out over the course of nearly six months.  We just finished the second round with several more to go.

The coffee must be picked by hand.  One bean at a time.  With over three thousand trees and several thousand beans per tree, that's a lot of coffee beans that need to be picked.  There's no way I could pick all that coffee myself.  The only realistic solution is to hire a picking crew.

I have an excellent picker boss that manages a large picking crew.  Most of them are from Mexico and they fly in for the harvest season.  Some live here all year-round.  Coffee pickers in Hawaii are among the highest paid pickers in the world.  Keep in mind, that's the pickers, not the farmers.

Depending on how much coffee is ready to be picked the picking crew can vary in size from a couple pickers to nearly a dozen pickers.  For this latest round most of the picking was done by two families.  School was out for the week so the kids would pick for awhile then play for awhile.  Over the course of four days the pickers picked a total of 2141.5 pounds of coffee cherry.  I helped for a couple hours once.  I picked 30 pounds.  Not bad but certainly not as good as the picking crew.  Even their children can pick faster than I can.

Nina 1 Nino 2 Nina 3

The pickers show up early in the morning and work until just before dark.  They'll take a short break for lunch but the rest of the time they are in the fields working.  Hot and humid or pouring buckets of rain, they keep on working.  They wear wool gloves and long sleeves.  This is for protection from the coffee trees which can be very harsh on your skin over time.  Some people eventually develop an allergy to coffee trees.  Don't worry, it's the acid in the trees and cherries that cause the problem, I don't think anybody has ever developed an allergy from drinking too much roasted coffee.

I find it ironic that many people living in the city have busy, stressful lives.  They come home from their high paying office job stressed out and unhappy.  By comparison, the pickers spend all day every day doing hard labor in harsh conditions yet they are generally happy people.  They spend time together, singing and laughing as they work.  I have tremendous respect for the coffee pickers.

Javier Lluvia Recogedor




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