The process begins with a seed (the coffee bean itself) planted in sand, where it germinates into a small seedling called a “chapola.” After 3 months, the seedling is transplanted into a small bag, and continues to grow until it is strong enough to be planted in the field.
Once the tree has been planted, it can take up to 2 years to produce its first harvest. Its production cycle typically lasts 6 years before it is replaced with a fresh plant, or pruned for regeneration. Regeneration occurs when the trunk of an unproductive tree is cut at a height of 30 cm off the ground. From this stump grow several new shoots, two of which are selected to develop into a new tree that will produce coffee for another 6 years. Farming practices vary from country to country and change over time. Previously in Colombia, trees were harvested for dozens of years before being replaced or pruned.
For a tree to produce coffee cherries, it first needs to bloom. Flowering usually occurs after an intense dry period, during which hydric stress triggers the tree’s reproductive process to ensure the continuation of its lineage. The flower is shed within a few days, leaving behind a small fruit that matures over the course of 7 to 9 months.