About Tim Thompson

Tim Thompson has been a member since May 14th 2011, and has created 543 posts from scratch.

Tim Thompson's Bio

Tim Thompson's Websites

This Author's Website is

Tim Thompson's Recent Articles

Peace Comes to the Coffee Growing Regions of Colombia

On November 30, 2016 both house of congress in Colombia ratified a peace agreement between the government and FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army). The half century long Colombian Civil War was over. During the war more than 200,000 people died, most of whom were civilians. And more than 5 million people were displaced from their homes. Many of those people were farmers in the coffee growing region of Colombia, the Eje Cafetero. Today many coffee farmers are coming home as peace comes to the coffee growing regions of Colombia.

Peace, More Farmers and More Arabica Coffee

U.S. News writes about peace will affect Colombian coffee production.

Farmers who fled war in the Colombian Andes are returning to revive their abandoned land, cultivating coffee trees that are boosting global supplies of the highest-quality beans.

Colombia’s five-decade civil war, the longest in the Americas, displaced millions and disrupted farming for decades in areas that produce coffee for the most exacting consumer.

The revival of coffee farming in the former conflict zones could help boost Colombia’s coffee output by 40 percent, according to government estimates. That would raise global supplies of mild Arabica beans by about 13 percent.

The additional supply could reduce the cost of the raw material for the world’s top roasters, many of whom are seeking to secure increased supply from Colombia.

Colombia is the world’s third leading coffee producer. However, second place Vietnam is primarily a Robusta producer. Brazil out produces Colombia in coffee volume but Colombian coffee centered around Manizales is generally considered the best Arabica in the world.

Some of the best coffee in the world comes from a place where the highway signs give you a choice of heading to Bogota or Medellin.

Manizales, Colombia Highway Signs

This piece of coffee heaven is Manizales, Colombia. The main highway to neighboring Pereira is even called the coffee highway, the Careterra de Café. Coffee grows everywhere from lowlands to mountain tops. Coffee loves cloudy skies, rain and moderate temperatures making the daytime highs of 70 degrees and nighttime lows of 58 degrees perfect.

Along the Coffee Highway

Along the Coffee Highway

Manizales was founded in the mid-19th century by 14 families who moved into this mountainous region specifically to grow coffee. They are now known as the founders or Fundadores. The local upscale mall is the Fundadores and a large local grocery store is La 14 in reference to the founders. Coffee culture is everywhere and Manizales is the home of the Colombian Coffee Growers Association.

Now that hostilities have ceased there are coffee farmers moving back into the mountains throughout the Colombian coffee growing district and their main focus is high quality Arabica coffee. It takes a few years from planting to having a coffee crop but in a few years Colombian coffee production is expected to go up by nearly half again and that will raise worldwide Arabica production by a seventh.

If you are interested in unique and high quality green bean or roasted Colombian coffees shipped directly from the source contact us at BuyOrganicCoffee.org.

Is Organic Coffee Shade Grown?

One of our readers recently asked, is organic coffee shade grown? Here is the short answer. More often than not shade grown coffee is organic but organic coffee does not need to be grown in the shade. Read on for more info about healthy organic coffee and shade grown coffee.

Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

A study in Australia showed that as many as 133 unwanted contaminants can be found in regular coffee. If you want to avoid unnecessary chemicals in your coffee, look for organic coffee certification when you buy.

Just what is organic coffee certification and how does organic coffee certification insure the bona fid cup of organic coffee? Organic coffee differs from regular coffee in several aspects. The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land. Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport.

Organic coffee certification does not require that coffee is grown in the shade but shade grown coffee is more often organic than not. Growing coffee in the shade is going back to how coffee grows in the wild.

Growing organic coffee in the shade is done by two methods. One is to partially clear forest and plant coffee. The other is to plant trees among the coffee in order to provide shade. When fruit trees are used the coffee grower enjoys two crops on the same land. He grows healthy organic coffee and crops such as plantain as well.

When the coffee grower simply plants coffee in among the trees of a mountainside forest it is unlikely that any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or fungicides will be involved. This is the natural way to grow organic coffee. This coffee may or may not be certified but it is indeed organic and the method of growing it is the pinnacle of sustainable coffee production. And when the farmer grows coffee in this way it is also good for other aspects of the habitat as noted in our article about coffee for the birds.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has a Bird Friendly Coffee page on their web site.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has developed the only 100% organic and shade-grown coffee certification available: Bird Friendly.

That’s right-no other bag guarantees that every bean is produced organically and under high-quality shade. Our seal of approval ensures tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds find a healthy haven when they travel from your backyard to those faraway farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.

The point is that USDA certified and other certifications do not guarantee that the forest habitat was preserved while the Bird Friendly Coffee certification does.

In short, shade grown coffee is typically organic and good for the environment but you can also get organic coffee that is grown interspersed with other food crops such as plantain or banana but not totally shade grown.

The Best Organic Coffee is Shade Grown with the Birds

The Best Organic Coffee Provides Bird Habitat

Why Are There Elephants in the Coffee?

As coffee farmers in India open new land to raise their crops they move into areas inhabited by native wildlife. In the case of India one of those wildlife critters is the Indian elephant!  India is the 7th leading coffee producer after Honduras and before Uganda. It exports nearly 6 million bags (60 kg each) each year compared to 43 million for Brazil, 27 million for Vietnam and 13 million for Colombia. A problem that the top three producers do not have is wild elephants roaming into the coffee plantation! WTOP News notes the issue of your coffee habit and elephant habitat.

Tom Grant, a journalism professor at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and director of the documentary “Elephants in the Coffee,” said in the last 30 years, India’s coffee industry has doubled. As a result, coffee plantations have taken over the natural habitats of many animals, including elephants.

“We were seeing more and more elephants forced into captivity, forced into chains, as one solution to try to keep them away from harming people or harming crops in these coffee plantations,” said Grant, who first became aware of the issue on a trip to Southern India in 2012.

Conflict between agriculture and wildlife is not new or unique to India. Elephants see coffee plantations as forests – they find water, shade and food there, Grant said. They also find fear.

If elephants become a problem for coffee growers the elephants are scared off and sometimes captured. They are huge animals and they scare people. Likewise the elephants become frightened and then become aggressive. About 300 people a year are killed by elephants in India.

Major coffee companies such as Starbucks and Tata have instituted practices on their farms that move toward coexistence. Their workers monitor elephants and move around them as they come through the plantations.

“When the elephants are in one sector, they warn all the workers through text messages, and then move the workers to another area,” Grant said.

The problem is that coffee farmers and elephants are competing for the same habitat as coffee growing is forced into smaller areas due to climate changes and related coffee infestations such as coffee leaf rust. We wrote about how climate change has driven coffee production to high elevations.

In the coffee growing region of Colombia they grow varieties like Caturra at lower altitudes around 3,000 to 5,000 while Arabica grows best in the 5,000 feet and above range. Part of this is because of coffee leaf rust which thrives at lower altitudes. As temperatures have risen on the mountainsides of Colombia, Arabica is being planted higher and higher while left rust resistant Caturra replaces it in the low and middle altitudes. This problem is not limited to Colombia as climate change drives coffee farmers to higher elevations.

The problem when it heats up is that it also can get very dry and the combination of heat and drought in an area like Ethiopia which has an arid climate anyway can be devastating. Coffee farmers will keep moving up the slopes so long as there is room to plant and the necessary water.

The other issue is that coffee leaf rust is more prevalent at lower altitudes.

Is Organic Decaf Coffee Bad for You?

One of our readers is concerned about making decaf from organic coffee. Is organic coffee bad for you and does it degrade the coffee to remove the caffeine? Years ago we wrote about decaf coffee risks.

The concern today with a decaf coffee risk is that decaf coffee contains greater amounts of two substances which are known to elevate cholesterol. Although kahweol and cafestol are both removed by coffee filters, not everyone uses a paper filter when brewing coffee. (Think French Press.) The two substances, kahweol and cafestol, are diterpenes, and they have been found to raise low density cholesterol and triglycerides by as much as twenty percent. The flip side of this concern is that the two substances also seem to have anti-cancer properties. Considering that coffee consumption is known to reduce the risk of liver, prostate, colon, and endometrial cancer, it cannot be all bad. So, is there decaf coffee risk with higher cholesterol levels? There is no long term risk that we know of for increased heart disease with regular or decaf coffee.

Kahweol and Cafestol

These are two virtually identical chemical substances. Food-info.net writes about Cafestol and Kahweol.

The concentration of these two compounds depend on the type of coffee; arabica beans contain both cafestol and kahweol, whereas robusta beans contain half as much cafestol and hardly any kahweol. In arabica beans they may be present in up to 1% of the total volume of the beans.

Cafestol raises serum cholesterol more potently than kahweol does. A mixture of cafestol (60 mg/day) and kahweol (51 mg/day) increased serum cholesterol only slightly more than pure cafestol (64 mg/day) did. Results with pure kahweol are not available due to difficulties with purification and stability of this diterpene.

Because these substances stick to paper filters they occur in lower concentrations in filtered coffee. Both paper filters and cloth filters remove significant amounts of both chemicals. And both of these substances also have anti-cancer properties as well and considering that drinking coffee reduces the incidence of various cancers perhaps having a little Cafestol or Kahweol in your coffee is not all bad.

Other Problems with Decaf Coffee

Positive Wellness lists a whole host of negative effects of decaf coffee. One of them is the residual chemicals from common decaffeination processes.

The most common method for decaffeinating the coffee beans uses chemical solvents that may leave a residue on the coffee seeds. Soaking the coffee seeds in several chemical solvents such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate for about 10 hours may be the reason for this.  The beans are steamed again to remove most of the solvents. Be known that the FDA allows residues of these solvents to remain on the decaf coffee beans even after roasting.

Read the article for more info but remember that the reason you are drinking healthy organic coffee is to avoid all of those unwelcome chemicals that can be found in regular coffee. If you do want decaf remember that decaf is not caffeine free. Drink five cups of decaf coffee and you will get about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of regular java. And if you are really concerned about your cholesterol you might consider Robusta or simply use a filter when you make your coffee!

What Is the Most Expensive Coffee in the US?

Some folks are willing to pay a premium for unique coffees. That person is a coffee gourmet.

Are you a coffee gourmet? If so you probably like healthy organic coffee. Are you familiar with Panama mountain grown organic coffee or Colombian organic coffee brands? Do you prefer coffee house coffee on the way to work? If you are a coffee gourmet you have refined tastes for coffee and a passion for higher end varieties of the beverage. You probably insist on Arabica coffees and avoid Robusta at all costs. And, if you aspire to be a coffee gourmet what is the best way to proceed?

Or do you prefer gesha coffee?

Gesha coffee is a gourmet variety grown in the highlands of Chiriquí Province in the west of Panama, the last Central American country before you get to Colombia (South America). Once part of Gran Colombia, the Panama has a climate along its mountainous spine similar to the much larger Eje Cafetero in Colombia. It is in the coffee growing region of Panama near the town of Boquete that planters grew a leaf rust resistant Ethiopian coffee variety. Gesha gets its name from the Ethiopian village where it was first found. Planters tried Gesha in the 1950s but it was when the variety was resurrected in the early 2000s that its quality was first noted. Today Gesha coffee sells for as much as $35,000 for a 100 pound bag at auction! Considering that standard green coffee sells for a couple of dollars a pound, the Gesha coffee variety is in the stratosphere.

A true coffee gourmet is willing to pay a lot for a special coffee. We wrote recently about third wave coffee as a phenomenon. But the most expensive coffee in the US is really from Panama. CNBC writes about $350 a pound coffee, gesha!

One brew is for fanatics only: an $18 cup of coffee at the Extraction Lab by Alpha Dominche in Brooklyn, N.Y., as seen on an upcoming episode of CNBC’s “Secret Lives of the Super Rich.”

The beans are a high-end variety called “gesha” beans, which come from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates in Panama and allegedly have a lighter, “more tea-like” taste than other blends, Eater reports. It goes for as much as $350 a pound, and is the most expensive coffee in America, according to “Secret Lives of the Super Rich.”

Because folks are drinking a cup of coffee and not buying a pound or more of gesha coffee beans at auction the price is high but affordable. More affordable is to go to the El Rey supermarket on Via España in the capital city of Panama and buy a half pound bag of gesha coffee, not at auction, for around $14! There are several growers in Panama who produce gesha coffee and you don’t need to bid in the hundreds of dollars go enjoy the coffee. You do, however, want to drink this coffee black. That is because too much milk, creamer or sugar will overpower the unique taste. You also want lightly roasted beans to preserve the natural flavor.