They lend us a tangible way of sensing, grasping, even manipulating the world around us. With them, we express ourselves, we turn the depths of our imaginations into a visible, physical reality — we lift, we chop, we eat and feed, we clear the way. With these strong, yet agile, extremities, we seal an embrace. With our hands we cultivate life!
On the coffee farm, a producer would be lost without his hands! The harvest time is a tedious, labor-intensive season for farmers and their hired help. They gently and — as a result of years of experience — quickly pluck the ripest cherries from the plants taking great care not to damage the cherry or the tree it came from in the process. Their nimble fingers move from branch to branch, tree to tree, all day long, for two to three months until the harvest is complete.
At the end of a full day of picking, workers are often expected to hand sort their fruit, separating the vibrant ripe cherries from the under-ripe ‘pintones’ before delivering them to the wet mill to be weighed. After dry-milling when the coffee is in its final green, exportable state it is often hand-sorted once again, removing beans with visible defects or discoloration from its consistent counterparts.
As we learned from a previous post, a farmer’s work spans far beyond the harvest and occupies the entire calendar year. With their hands, a farmer carefully selects and sews the most promising beans in his coffee plant nursery to ensure healthy and sustainable production for years to come. The farm is carefully manicured, using hands and machetes, clearing away branches, leaves and weeds, pruning and managing the surrounding shade trees.
The tasks on a coffee farm are many and are often delicately performed by hand. Next time you happily wrap your hand around your favorite coffee mug, remember and give thanks to all of the hands that meticulously prepared the coffee you enjoy so much.