The panorama on the sunrise side: an awesome view of Malarayat

The quiet panorama on the sunrise side of the farm: an awesome view of Mount Malaráyat and the river below the gap.

15 February 2012

Coffee Picking

The coffee trees are HEAVY with cherries and they are red ripe for picking! The baráko (Liberica, above) ones look especially daunting since their beans are way larger than Robustas and Excelsas. Those too will soon be ready for harvesting, and even though the fruits are smaller, they are just as tedious to pick as they have to be manually done (or at least, we do) and the picking requires some arbitrary, split-second decisions.

Not all cherries ripen at the same time (right), you want to pick them only when they are fully mature, with a vivid red hue or just about the time they start drying up. It is a waste to comb through a branch to short-cut collecting them since some are younger than the others, like the yellow or green fruits. When I first did this some years ago, I picked one tree just like how everyone does it but after some minutes, I started wondering just how I should be able to do this faster: maybe do a swift, piano-like glissando 

through the cherries and put a basket on the end to catch my loot. Quite predictably, my harvest had multi-colored produce (read: mixed-up ripe and wasted unripe cherries).

On the left photo is one of our staff, Diko who is picking a barako tree the proper way, just how everyone else does it: by hand, one by one. He even has on a takúyan, a hip-strung basket that is the most convenient and practical to contain the picked cherries.

From one tree alone, Diko picked practically three-fourths of a sack! And there are still some fruits left on that tree. Awesome...


  1. We still have them in the farm too, but not cared for anymore, most of the time they just fall off and sprout, just left there. But we only have few trees left after father died, imagine my 81 yrs old mother still climbing those Liberica trees! They are more erect and more difficult to climb than the other varieties, we have a few too. Sometimes she just was able to gather 2 sacks when already dried. It is very cheap bought by passing buyers who dictate their prize, lugi pa sa pag-akyat ng Nanay ko. The funny thing is i buy those packed coffee grounds at the supermarket, which are very expensive! Whew!

  2. Barako is wonderful. I saw a coffee book in Powerbooks a few years back with coffee discussed per country. If I remember correctly, it mentioned that Batangas coffee, presumably barako, was in fact underrated only because of lack of QC for the beans. All beans were used even those that were not in perfect condition.

  3. Oh Andrea, it's a waste you don't brew your own beans! Please try, it is a great experience :)

    Bom, I think it's largely because there are no big industries to support the farmers. Most operate as backyard businesses that's why the standards are not at par with around the globe, and are not consistent. But it's a great product nonetheless.

  4. Even if you don't tell me that, i perfectly know because i am a Batangueno, 'pinalaki sa kape' both literally and figuratively, and I am a horticulturist too, where coffee is included, haha! It is just that i don't have time to do that anymore, it is easier to ask someone to buy me from Vietnam or Gourmet brand from the supermarkets.

  5. Your trees look beautiful! Like local holly branches. How exciting it must be to harvest and roast your own beans! Bring me some samples of your roast please, I want to try! :)

  6. Definitely! Farm to table again...