The system of measurement is a little confusing. Workers get paid in latas. A lata is approximately 30lbs but not always. It depends upon the density of the cherries and early cherries will be less dense than later ones. Last week, the workers were paid $3 per lata. This is a very good rate, I think the highest, but is fair because early on the cherries are not so easy to pick, they have to leave behind good green berries and just pick out the ripe ones. Later on the price for picking usually drops.
My coffee manager dropped by this morning to tell me that the prices are rising and we will get even more if we have anything next week. Lets see what the weather is like, it has been very hot and sunny for the rainy season, so we might.
At the beneficio you back up your truck in a queue of backed up trucks. You then unload the sacks and pour them into the big metal weighing machines. I can not actually lift a sack of beans so the workers on the truck or the guys in the beneficio help.
Then once the number of pounds has been recorded, a receipt ticket is issued and the whole lot is dumped into a huge container where all the farms different cherries are mixed together. You then go to the counter with the receipt ticket and get a check and a pink slip with the amount and amount paid per pound.
My beans are mainly Caturra and some Catuai at this point and a very few typica. These were mixed with my neighbors coffee which contained yellow Catuai and I am not sure what else. The yellow Catuai is obviously very distinctive. My neighbor's workers were were delivering the truck in front of me.
You can see how quality may be lost this way. There is no real incentive here to pick the very ripest very best cherries and varietals are all bundled together. As we progress through the season, the lower altitude (still high altitude) berries of high quality will be mixed with the very first poor quality cherries of the higher altitude farms. Any unique terroir of the farm is lost. Good soil crops mixed with bad soil crops and organic or pesticide/herbicide free farms mixed with people who spray willy nilly. This is not a quality driven business process.