More Labor of Love: Hand Sorting Coffee Greens
Hand sorting coffee greens is the meticulous and extremely labor-intensive process of sorting through all of the dry, raw coffee beans.The beans are inspected, and any debris and defective beans are removed. Hand sorting coffee greens might just be the most essential step in quality control throughout the entire coffee production process. A poorly sorted lot of coffee greens can make even the most expensive coffee in the world mediocre. Careful sorting ensures freshness, uniform size, and uniform roasting, which all contributes to the aroma and superior flavors in your coffee cup.
As with picking coffee cherries, a variety of machines are available to sort coffee beans. However, they are not widely used as the cost of purchasing and maintaining these machines is high. Machines are mainly used in wealthier coffee producing regions, where the mass production of coffee makes use of machines inevitable or where farmers or processors can afford to invest in such machines. In some countries, it would be cost-prohibitive (and difficult) for a coffee farmer to actually hire and retain adequate staff for the purpose of sorting coffee greens.
In addition to promoting quality control, hand-sorting coffee in Nepal provides much needed employment opportunities for individuals in rural areas, especially women. Worldwide, it is estimated that women make-up 70 percent of the entire coffee production workforce and represent 75 percent of all workers involved in hand sorting coffee. In Nepal, the involvement of women in the coffee sector is estimated to be as high as 90 percent!
Some research courtesy of The Perfect Daily Grind, Plantec Coffee Estate.