Harvest time at Zentveld’s

Harvest time at Zentveld’s

Harvest time at Zentveld’s 1702 934 Table Under a Tree

It’s harvest time for our coffee mates at Zentveld’s and that means it’s a great time to learn a little about just what it takes to grow the beans that supply your daily fix.

Zentveld’s plantation has about 40,000 trees, all of which were loaded with fruit this year. Luckily after last year’s drought, the rain which fell in late 2019 gave the trees some much needed moisture. The milder weather which followed allowed the flowers to transition into fruit which could slowly ripen over ten months.

According to Bec Zentveld, this year’s crop may be one of their best ever.

“Fingers crossed we can get most of it off now before the predicted El Nina summer storms arrive. Hail and big winds are NOT welcome!”

Given that this will be the first harvest in two year’s for Bec and co, you can understand that she’s been keeping a watchful eye on the weather.

“We all only get one go at it in springtime – and for most growers, it [harvest] can be bi-annual for mature trees. After our serious tree pruning we didn’t get a harvest in 2019, (apart from 3 young rows, which hardly counts!) so this 2020 harvest is seriously welcome,” she said.

But getting the fruit off the trees is only the first step in the process.

Once the coffee cherries – the fruit – are harvested from the trees, they are taken to a washing station which sorts out the green fruit from the ripe red fruit and the overripe naturals.

The naturals go straight into the dryer, allowing their raisin-like, spicy fruit cake notes to enter the green bean.

The ripe red cherries get pulped – freed of their fruit skins which get composted along with  any unripe fruit that got inadvertently picked. The pulped, washed coffee goes straight into the dryer, slowly spinning for 36 hours or until the moisture content is 11%. Then they come out as bins of ‘parchment’ with the papery shell protecting the raw green bean within.

The parchment coffee (dried green bean in its papery shell) is let out of the dryer, into the low wooden bins, ready to load into bags for storage for three months to develop flavour and complexity.

Finally the parchment coffee will go through the dry mill for hulling, grading and sorting and before you get green bean, raw coffee ready to be roasted (which is a whole other process and art form!).

There is so much alchemy, so much variability, so much hope that goes into growing any crop, and coffee is no exception. It puts into perspective the value and enjoyment we all get from a simple cup of coffee. It sure makes me sip my flat white a little more slowly!



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