There are two main methods used to take the coffee cherries from the tree: stripping and picking.
In Brazil where coffee is ripe in the winter, the berries are stripped from the branch. Then, these are laid out to dry for 3 to 5 weeks. Stripping can either be done by hand or machine.
When cultivating high-grown coffee crops, it is often impossible to navigate machinery to these areas high up the mountains, so cherry harvesting is done by hand. The coffee berries have been traditionally picked by hand, which allows the picker to only select the cherries that have reached a bright red ripeness.
As coffee berries are perishable, they need to be processed quickly after the harvest. First, the two coffee beans that are contained in each coffee berry need to be separated from the fruit flesh. Then, the beans are washed, dried and sorted according to quality and size.
Ripe cherries have several layers; red skin, a sweet light pulp, a membrane called “parchment skin” or pergamino, and an inner thin membrane called “silver skin." These layers must be removed prior to roasting, though some silver skin often remains attached. Each cherry has two green coffee seeds that are round/oval in shape and are flat on one side with a center cut. While most coffee cherries contain two beans, 5 to 10% of the time, only one bean is produced in the cherry. This is called a "peaberry."
The unroasted coffee beans usually arrive in Cherry Hill, New Jersey by ship and freight. Here, they are cleaned again and the quality is carefully inspected. For our Melitta coffees, coffees from various countries are mixed with one another, in order to achieve consistent quality.