Eastern Ethiopia is among the regions naturally known for producing the best quality Hararghe specialty coffee. However, due to poor pre-and post-harvest handling practices, the quality of its coffee is below level of its inherent quality characteristics. Therefore, this study was conducted to evaluate different harvesting and postharvest handling methods on the inherent quality of Hararghe coffee. The experiment was designed as a factorial combination of two harvesting (selective and strip harvesting) and six postharvest processing methods (dry processed dried on bare, cemented and plastic sheet ground floor; and dry, wet and semi-washed processed dried on raised mesh wire) methods in a CRD with three replications. The samples were prepared from one Hararghe coffee genotype (H-622/98) planted at Mechara Agriculture Research Center. A team of certified panelists did its raw and organoleptic quality evaluation. The results indicated that the main effect of harvesting and postharvest processing methods were highly significantly influenced all coffee quality parameters evaluated. Selective harvesting was produced highest overall coffee quality (above 80%) that can be categorized under specialty coffee grade. Dry processing method coupled with drying coffee on raised mesh wire was best in producing coffee beans with high raw quality. In contrast, dry processing using bare ground produced inferior coffee for all quality attributes. The highest raw quality score (32.33%) was observed from the dry processed coffee on mesh wire while wet processing produced the highest cup quality (44.88%). The highest overall coffee quality (75.21%) was recorded for wet processed followed by dry processed coffee on mesh wire. Thus, it can be concluded that like wet processing, dry processing of selective harvesting and drying on raised mesh wire and/or plastic sheet floor can produce superior specialty coffee under Hararghe conditions.
Key words: Hararghe coffee, specialty coffee, raw quality, organoleptic quality.
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