Wanted: Coffee Pickers in Colombia

There was an interesting item on the TV news last night out of Bogot­á. In Manizales in the heart of the Eje Cafetero (the Colombian coffee growing axis) they are concerned that there will not be enough coffee pickers in Colombia for what is shaping up to be a record harvest. The Colombian coffee harvest suffered badly in 2008 when much of the crop was damaged by rain in an El Niño year. And the crop that year suffered a further forty percent loss to la roja, coffee leaf rust. Since that time Colombia has replanted extensively and recovered from the leaf rust with only a five percent crop loss last year. This year total Colombian coffee harvest is expected to come in at record levels. This is some relief for the coffee market as a Brazil drought drives prices higher. Of course, a record Colombian coffee harvest requires more than the usual number of coffee pickers in Colombia. When the hillsides of the Cafetero turn red with ripe berries, individual harvesters must move among the adjacent plants and trees to harvest shade grown organic coffee. Coffee is grown on slopes as steep as 70 degrees. (Think of this as mountaineering with a bag of coffee beans slung over your shoulder.)

More than Just Picking Everything in Sight

There is a skill set required for picking coffee beans. They must be ripe and not overly ripe. The berries must be removed without damaging the plant. This is not a mechanical operation but rather the work of skilled pickers who know their craft and are in excellent physical condition. After coffee is picked the beans need to be dried. This can be done on flat areas in full sun or in mechanical driers. The beans need to be adequately dried in order to avoid spoilage so the job needs to be done in a timely fashion. Otherwise spoiled coffee beans aptly called stinkers ruin the batch. And for a coffee farmer who has a mixed crop of regular coffee and healthy organic coffee the two types must be kept separate from the moment the beans are harvested through all processing and storage to comply with organic coffee certification requirements. So the request on the Bogot­á news for more coffee pickers in Colombia extends to folks with other important skill sets as well.

The Intended Result

It is a long way from the mountains around Manizales, Colombia to your kitchen table. The intended result of carefully tending coffee crops, picking shade grown organic coffee at the right time, carefully drying and roasting to perfection is an excellent cup at breakfast or whenever you desire. For more current information about Colombian organic coffee brands and especially wholesale organic coffee contact us at Buy Organic Coffee at your convenience. In the meantime we will be talking to our suppliers in Colombia and elsewhere to see how the crop is doing and if they have found enough coffee pickers to guarantee an excellent cup or organic coffee on your breakfast table.

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