“The work of picking coffee is demanding, literally back-breaking work,” explains Janet Jarman, an American photographer who’s been documenting coffee workers around the world for almost three decades.
On a typical coffee plantation in Mexico, Nicaragua, and many of the other countries where the desirable crop is produced, the work begins before sunrise. Coffee pickers rise early to traverse steep hillsides where the coffee plants grow and then spend up to 10 hours in sweltering heat or pouring rain collecting the red cherries from which beans will later be extracted. They’ll eventually climb down the mountain carrying 100 pounds or more of these berries on their backs.
Pickers can also encounter serious health dangers: For instance, the mosquitoes that buzz about the dense vegetation where the berries grow have been known to carry diseases like dengue, malaria, or even Zika.