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Raking Coffee
26 November 2012

Note:  At this point the beans are what we call coffee parchment.  That means the green coffee beans that will eventually get roasted are still covered in a protective parchment layer.  Walking on the parchment doesn't hurt the beans at all.
There hasn't been a harvest season like this in 30 years.  Or so I've been told by other Kona coffee farmers that have been here that long.  From what I've seen so far, no two years have ever been the same, every year is different.   This year though, has been unusually unusual.

I knew this year was going to be tough.  I knew it back in the spring when the seasonal rains returned.  It was like someone had turned on a faucet: one day the trees were dormant and not doing much, the next day they were growing like crazy.  To make matters worse, all of Kona experienced the same sudden return of the rains.

Normally the change of seasons is spread out a bit more.  As the seasons change from winter to spring, there will be several different blooms.  Lower elevations bloom first while higher elevations bloom later.  This year every tree in Kona bloomed all at once.  Since the bloom happened all at once, that means the harvest is also happening all at once.

A good coffee picking crew can average about two bags per person.  That's in a normal year.  This year the fastest pickers are getting four or even five bags per person.  The crews are picking coffee as fast as they can and still not managing to keep up with how quickly it is ripening.

The coffee is coming off the trees at more than twice the usual rate which means it has to be processed at more than twice the usual rate.  It's like a speeding freight train coming at me and I'm running as fast as I can but can only barely manage to stay ahead of it.  It's been this way for over a month now and we still have a month or so to go.  The days are all blurring together.

I made a video that shows what my day was like.  Well, not the entire day, just the part that involves the constant raking, which can fill up most of the day.  As the coffee dries it has to be raked every 15 minutes.  If not raked constantly it won't dry properly and could ruin the coffee.  Normally raking isn't so bad but this year, with so much coffee arriving so quickly, the raking is getting out of control.

I didn't have enough time to get all fancy with the video.  All I did is set up my camera on the coffee drying deck and let it take pictures while I worked.  The footage is actually from a couple days but there's more coffee to process every day so they all look the same.  The group of kids that show up to watch while I was pulping (1:17) all belong to the pulping crew.  While the parents are busy picking coffee, the kids run around and get into trouble.  Great fun.

If you call or email and I ignore you, now you'll know why.  Try again in January.

Raking Coffee Raking Coffee
Hi-res .wmv 72MB Lo-res .wmv 23MB

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