Congratulations to Brandon Weaver who won the first ever Northwest Regional Aeropress Championship.
Here’s Brandon’s winning recipe:
15 g coffee.
220 g of water at 204 degrees Fahrenheit.
Filter: Able Disk.
Add 100 by 0:20seconds, stir, add remaining water (120g for total of…
Who will help me pick the cherries?
Coffee harvesting is the biggest and most important job I have here on the farm. The coffee that comes off of the tree is called a Coffee Cherry. Ripe cherries can range in color from dark yellow to bright red, depending on the tree varietal.
Before a coffee cherry becomes a cherry, however, it is a coffee blossom. Coffee blossoms have an aroma resembling jasmine or roses.
There are many challenges to harvesting good quality coffee. The cherries in East Hawaii tend to ripen at different stages. This is good, as it allows pickers like me to do a little bit each day without feeling overwhelmed. Conversely, it’s much more difficult to determine the ripeness of the cherries. It takes a lot of care and discernment to decide whether a cherry is ripe enough to be harvested. This doesn’t play very well to my detail-oriented nature.
Diseases and bugs have a large impact on coffee. Here is a picture of a common disease affecting Hawaiian coffee trees, called cercospora:
Cherries affected by cercospora often give the illusion of ripeness. If you’re not paying attention, you could end up with some of these deceptive “duds” in your bucket.
The most important element affecting a good harvest is weather. There is a multitude of clothing options to keep in mind when picking. This first picture depicts some good and some not-so-good clothing choices. Cotton tanktop= bad. When it starts raining, you will get wet and stay wet. This gets a frowny face. Synthetic skirt with UPF 50=good. Moisture-wicking, sun-protecting, and pockets for all of your necessities. Sunglasses= bad. Picking good cherries requires an eye for color. Sunglasses distort colors, rendering them purposeless. Bandana= GOOD. After a gruesome sunburn on my first day, I found this bandana to be a life saver out in the field. Of course, sunscreen also helps. A bucket which attaches to your body in some way is another necessity, as you need both hands for picking.
Here is a picture of me and fellow WWOOFer and roommate, Lindsey. Rain jacket, board shorts and rubber boots are ideal in the field. Yes, folks, it rains A LOT here.
Here, you can see that I have traded my sunglasses for a fancy hat. I decided to bet on the weather staying nice this day and opted for the more comfortable cotton clothing vs. synthetic rain gear.
You might notice that the tree branch is conveniently located at eye level. Wrong! Another challenge to harvesting is reaching up and pulling the branches down. If that isn’t challenging enough, you have to do it without breaking the branch. Some branches are bendy and some aren’t.
Coffee harvesting is an amazing sensory experience. As a sensitive person, this is quite enticing. There is excitement in finding a vine full of beautifully ripe cherries. Bunches of bright red or dark yellow are a coveted find in the field. Squeezing the cherries helps to determine the level of juiciness. Above all, tasting is the best way to determine ripeness. The cherries are sweet when ripe, bitter or flat tasting when unripe, and can be winey or fermented tasting when overripe. I personally enjoy a bit of a winey flavor in my coffee, but that is certainly subjective. Of the varietals present on this farm, my personal favorite cherry to taste is the yellow bourbon (pronounced “burr-bone”). It’s like tasting a sweet berry with hints of honey and brown sugar. Pure deliciousness.
The aromas found in the field are quite varying. Sometimes I smell the grass and the trees. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the aroma of maple. Other times I find myself inhaling fresh feces (chicken, sheep, and duck.) What can I say? It’s not always pleasant out there; especially on fertilizer days…
Harvesting coffee is a lot of work, and the process “from bean to cup” is quite long, but that story will have to wait for another day.
What is barista2farm? It’s a story about a girl born and raised in the northwest. A city girl; one who devoted 8 years to the corporate coffee industry. Wanting to feed her inner coffee geek, she decided to volunteer on a coffee farm through the harvesting season. She dropped everything and moved to Hawaii.
What happens when you put a barista in the city on a coffee farm in agrarian Hawaii? I guess we’ll find that out together. Follow me for the next few months as I harvest, process, roast, cup, and learn all I can about coffee. Laugh with me as I fumble about farm life, encourage my efforts of self-discovery, and ask questions along the way.
It’s time to grab life by the horns. You with me?
My adventure begins October 4th.