Coffee is a plant and the name of the drink that is made from this plant. The coffee plant is a bush or tree that can grow up to ten meters high, but is usually cut at maximum 2 meters. Coffee plants originally grew in the region of Ethiopia in Africa, and now also grows in South and Central America.
The coffee drink is made from the seeds of the coffee plant, called coffee beans. Coffee is usually served hot, and is a popular drink in many countries. Coffee contains a chemical called caffeine, a mild drug that keeps people awake.
Sipping two to three cups per day is healthy, and most likely beneficial. On the other hand coffee does have side effects too.
There are many ways to brew coffee: Boiling, Pressure, Gravity and Steeping.
Coffee and the environment
There are many controversy associated with coffee cultivation and its impact on the environment… Climate change threatens coffee growers in Latin America and the rest of the blue planet. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states “the suitability for coffee crops in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador will be reduced by 40 percent” with increasing of temperatures. – Source.
History of Coffee
The earliest evidence of coffee drinking is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen.
According to legend, ancestors of today’s Oromo people in a region of Kaffa in Ethiopia, Africa were believed to have been the first to recognize the energizing effect of the coffee plant. The story of Kaldi, the 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd who discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant, did not appear in writing until 1671.
By the 16th century, it had reached the rest of the Middle East, South India (Coorg), Persia, Turkey, Horn of Africa, and northern Africa. Coffee then spread to the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, to South East Asia and then to America.
Back in 1870, Sri Lanka was the largest coffee producer in the world! At the time, it was a British colony known as “Ceylon” and the small island supplied Europe with much of its coffee until the first signs of a rust outbreak appeared in 1875. The fungus spread quickly and the colonizers failed to slow infection rates, resulting in the loss of 95 percent of the coffee harvest in less than 20 years…
Colombia – Coffee
We have seen firsthand how it affects a region it’s surroundings and it’s people. The “Eje Cafetero” region is internationally known as the coffee triangle in Colombia. Where supposedly the best coffee is grown in Colombia. Now this may have been true not so long ago. But like always the only constant in life is change. And change has arrived in the region of the Quindio or “Eje Cafetero” faster than you and me can blink. What happens?
Well. It’s called progress … or modernization. Etc. Back in the days when the first settlers came to this region of Colombia they found a abundant soil very rich in minerals because of the surrounding volcanoes which from time to time have been spitting out lava and ashes and this effect its still well visible today if you look at the color and the consistency of the soil in the Quindio region. Depending of the region it’s very dark earth or sandy brown to yellow but most of the time rather dark. Fact is almost anything grows really very well almost all year long. So back to the story. When the first settlers arrived to this region and got rid of the native Indians … they started to cut the low growing forest and left the big trees. Soon they started planting plenty of arabica coffee. Originally, coffee farming was done in the shade of trees that provided a habitat for many animals and insects. Thats why the big trees where not cut back then. But with the progress arrived many other “better”, “smarter” etc. methods of coffee cultivation where the shade and the animals and insects where not needed any more because of the chemicals which where introduced.
Image: Landscape of the Quindio – “Eje Cafetero” coffee triangle region in Colombia
So the Coffee cooperative decided to cut all the remaining big tress in the entire “Eje Cafetero” and they started to massively invest in huge mono-culture. The Quindio region is the smallest political region of Colombia but believe me it’s still huge! So now they had the “perfect” set-up for great business. Lots and lots of coffee mono-culture. Nothing else was left. But something else changed in time. The price for the coffee… So almost from one day to another the coffee farmers and the big land owners who had invested lots of money in coffee mono-culture where loosing money producing coffee because the price was very volatile and the tendency was decreasing rather than increasing. That’s back luck… now that all the set-up was 100% coffee mono-culture. So again the farmers changed their focus. Now a days you see less and less coffee in the so well known coffee region of Colombia. What we have been exploring the coffee region for the last 4 weeks was. A lot of Banana, Orange, Lemon, Aloe Vera, Pine Apple, Papaya and a few other fruits. Most of the set-up are still in mono-culture. So for example 50 Hectares of Orange trees and the neighbor has maybe 150 Hectares of Bananas. So in one way it’s better its diverse.
But if you look at it closely it’s still way to much mono-culture. We discovered one field which had a interesting set up of one row of Papaya and then one row of Orange tress and again one row of Papaya trees. And now there is another kind of massive trend in the region. They are building villas and hotels like crazy in the region. The price for land has exploded thanks to that. Many rich people from Bogota and abroad (USA) are investing in real estate in the region of the “Eje Cafetero”. It’s becoming a rather urban region with less and less of natural habitat. The biggest trees in the region we saw so far have been in the parks of the Armenia and Pereira two of the biggest city’s which are also growing massively.
Still there are a few very nice places to visit which are not touristic-ally known.
So what happens to the coffee in the region or Colombia? Well they do still produce coffee, but much less than they did earlier.
Now other countries produce more coffee for example Brazil (2,859,502 US tons) and Vietnam (1,818,811 US tons) produce more Coffee than Colombia (892,871 US tons) – source.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good coffee or espresso. I also admire all the hard work which is needed to produce a good coffee. Nerveless I also believe it’s important to see and understand the big picture today now that we the planet is one big global village.
Image: Fresh green coffee fruits after a tropical rain