It takes approximately 3 or 4 years for new coffee trees to begin to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, turns a deep and bright red when ripe and ready to be harvested by the farmer. In most countries, the coffee crop is picked by hand, a labour-intensive and arduous process. Picking is done in one of two ways:
Strip Picking - the entire crop is harvested at one time, either by machine or by hand. In either case, all the cherries are stripped off the branch in one go.
Selective Picking - only the ripest cherries are picked individually by hand. Pickers rotate amongst the trees every 8 - 10 days, picking the cherries only at their peak ripeness. Because this kind of harvest is labour intensive and therefore more costly, it is used to harvest the finer Arabica beans.