Why Grow Coffee in the Shade?

When you shop for coffee, you have a variety of options. You can buy mass produced ground coffee which is usually the cheapest or whole bean roasted coffee which gives you better freshness and flavor. You can even buy whole bean green coffee and just roast and grind enough for the day’s requirements. This gives you one step up in freshness providing that you store the green coffee beans in a cool and dry place and use within three years of when they were picked. But what about organic versus regular coffee or coffee specifically grown in the shade. You may ask yourself why grow coffee in the shade?

How Coffee Grows Naturally

Coffee is a “woody perennial evergreen dicotyledon” and Arabica coffee originated in the highlands of Ethiopia in East Africa. Here it still grows in the southeastern evergreen forests of Harar and Sidarno provinces in the mountains. The plant grows most prolifically among the trees of the forest in partial to full shade. In countries like Colombia, they grow coffee in the shade as well but even when grown on open mountain slopes or with just a few plantain interspersed in the field it is so cloudy and rains so much that the coffee plants are effectively shaded part of the time.

The Best Organic Coffee is Shade Grown with the Birds
The Best Organic Coffee Provides Bird Habitat

Why Plant Plantain Among the Coffee Plants?

In the Colombian coffee growing axis, the Eje Cafetero, coffee growers commonly grow two crops, plantain and coffee. The plantain provides partial shade and helps prevent erosion on the steep upper slopes where the best Arabica coffee is grown. Coffee that is shaded grows more slowly and results in better flavor. When coffees have been developed to grow in full sun they require more water, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. While the majority of Colombian coffees are not organic or designated as shade grown many are in reality if not in name.

Growing Coffee in the Forest

On the extreme end of the shade grown coffee spectrum are plants intentionally planted in upland forests. Living in a natural environment without the crowding too often seen in commercial coffee fields these plants are healthier. The environment and the water table are preserved. Plants do not dry out and die during dry spells because the forest canopy protects them from the sun and the accumulation of plant debris on the forest floor protects it from drying out too quickly.  The spacing of coffee plants among the trees prevents the sort of insect infestations that spread rapidly in plant monocultures such as fields of commercially grown coffee.

Preserving the Ecosystem

When a forest is not clear cut to plant coffee but rather coffee growing there naturally is preserved or planted there the ecosystem of plants, birds, and small animals is not disturbed. The ground water is undisturbed and the birds and animals of the forest help protect the coffee by consuming the pests that would otherwise feast on the coffee. If you would like great coffee and coffee that is grown in such a way as to preserve the natural environment look for shade grown coffee. It is generally a bit more expensive but you will typically be buying a better tasting coffee.


Nutritional Value of Coffee

The world drinks coffee to wake up and to perk up during the day. Caffeine is the coffee ingredient that keeps you awake. Researchers have shown that the antioxidants in coffee have a wide range of health benefits from reducing the risk of Type II diabetes to reducing the risk of various cancers, enhancing athletic performance and even making sex better. But what else is in coffee? You doctor may tell you to eat a banana every day because of the potassium content. What else is there to the nutritional value of coffee?

Coffee the Diet Drink

“Lite” and “diet” drinks are commonly consumed in an attempt reduce caloric intake. A cup of black coffee does not need to be altered or modified in order to have virtually no calories. Of course, you cannot add cream or sugar if you want to avoid those calories but a cup of black coffee, by itself, has no carbohydrates, no fat, and only 2.4 calories from the 0.3 grams of protein.

Trace Minerals in Coffee

As we noted, your doctor may suggest a banana a day for potassium supplementation. A banana has about 358 milligrams of potassium. A Centrum Silver + 50 daily vitamin has 80 milligrams. Your cup of black coffee has 118 milligrams of potassium. If you want to add magnesium to your diet that Centrum vitamin has 5 milligrams. Half a cup of boiled spinach has 78 milligrams and your cup of coffee has 7.2 milligrams. Here is the breakdown of minerals and other nutrients in your 240 gram cup of black coffee.

Sodium: 4.8 milligrams
Potassium: 118 milligrams
Magnesium: 7.2 milligrams
Phosphorus: 7.1 milligrams
Manganese: 4.7 milligrams
Choline: 6.2 milligrams
Folate: 4.7 micrograms
Protein: 0.3 grams
Sugars: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Calories: 2.4

Nutritional Value of Coffee

Antioxidant Content of Black Coffee

The primary source of coffee health benefits is the collection of antioxidants in your cup of Java. Chlorogenic, ferulic, caffeic, and n-coumaric acids, melanoidins, heterocyclic compounds, and phenylalanine from roasting and trigonelline all appear to contribute to the beneficial antioxidants properties of coffee. How of much of these magic ingredients are contained in a single cup of coffee? A cup of Arabica coffee contains from 200 to 550 milligrams of antioxidants. By comparison a cup of tea contains from 150 to 400 milligrams and a glass of red wine contains from 150 to 400 milligrams. Green tea contains more antioxidants than black tea and cocoa contains 200 to 250 milligrams of antioxidants per cup. (Antioxidants (Basel). 2013 Dec; 2(4): 230–245)

When researchers compared coffee from various locations for antioxidant content Arabica coffees from the Americas generally exceeded those from Africa and the East Indies in their amounts of antioxidants. Coffee from Guatemala, Brazil, and Colombia topped the list with only one coffee from Ethiopia and one from Puerto Rico exceeding the 200 milligram per cup level. A coffee from Java came in at the bottom of their list of 21 coffees at 147.7 milligrams per cup.

How Does Coffee Keep You Awake?

Your morning cup of coffee is a great way to wake up and face the day. When you start to fade in the afternoon a cup of coffee keeps you going. And, if you need to drive though the night, repeated cups of coffee keep you going. But how does coffee keep you awake? And what do you do if you want to sleep and too much coffee is not letting you rest so that you need more and more coffee to stay awake during the day? It is the caffeine in coffee that does this.

How Does Caffeine Work?

The caffeine in your coffee absorbs into your body very quickly after you drink your coffee. And it goes everywhere in your system including your brain. In your brain is where caffeine blocks adenosine receptors. These chemical receptors are what promote sleep when we are tired at the end of a long day or any time. It turns out that caffeine is chemically configured much like the adenosine molecule, so it easily latches on to the sleep-promoting receptors and work at cross purposes with adenosine.

How Does Coffee Keep You Awake?

What Does Adenosine Do?

The adenosine molecule helps regulate your circadian cycle, the waking, sleeping cycle. When it binds to the adenosine receptors in the brain it triggers various nerve pathways that increase the feeling of sleepiness and slows neural activity. Normally, adenosine levels are low in the morning when we are waking up and increase gradually during the day. After several hours adenosine begins the process of making you feel sleepy. You go to bed and to sleep and the process begins again the next day.

How Caffeine Confuses the Adenosine Sleep Cycle

Although caffeine binds to adenosine receptors it only blocks them and does not trigger all the natural processes that adenosine does. Luckily for your ability to sleep, caffeine does not bind to adenosine receptors permanently. As the level of caffeine in your body diminishes so does its level of attachment to adenosine receptors in the brain. The half-life of caffeine after you drink it is somewhere between four and six hours. That is, every four to six hours the level of caffeine in your body drops by half. That is why when you have a strong cup of espresso with supper you may be awake after midnight. As a rule, do not drink any coffee or other drinks with caffeine after two or three in the afternoon and you will not have enough on board to interfere with adenosine attachment to brain receptors and your sleep at night.

How Much Coffee Interferes with Sleep?

The odds are that your morning cup of coffee will not interfere with your sleep at night. But, if you drink up to six cups of coffee a day, which level of consumption comes with several useful benefits like reducing your risk of type II diabetes, it might be a different matter. In addition, it is important how late in the day you drink your last cup of Java. If you don’t drink coffee after noon, you will have a fourth as much caffeine or even an eighth as much in your system by the time you want to sleep. Even though you may not be aware of it, too much coffee on board can affect how well you sleep, and the level of caffeine needed to interfere with sleep varies from person to person. So, drink coffee if you need to stay awake but be aware that consuming too much caffeine too late in the day keeps you awake at night and makes you tired the next day.

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Does Coffee Prevent Covid?

We have noted time and again the many significant health advantages of drinking coffee. Coffee drinkers have reduced incidence of various types of cancer, type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and more. The many healthy antioxidants in coffee reduce inflammation as well. Now we have been dealing with a global pandemic and the question arises for coffee drinkers if the morning cup of Java helps. Does coffee prevent Covid? According to a study published by researchers at Northwestern University coffee may help you avoid this bad disease.

Incidence of Covid in Coffee Drinkers

According to researchers at Northwestern University both coffee and vegetables help reduce the chance of getting Covid-19. They note that good nutrition plays a strong part in keeping the immune system healthy. While being a coffee drinker does not protect you from ever getting Covid there is a 10% reduction in one’s risk of getting the disease if a person drinks a cup of coffee a day. The same risk improvement is seen with eating vegetables two days out of three. Unfortunately, eating processed meats every day takes away much of the benefit. Thus, if you want to cut down on your risk of getting Covid by 10% having a cup of coffee with your salad is a positive choice for your health. The researchers are looking into whether this benefit is specific to Covid or something that occurs with all respiratory diseases.

Roasted Organic Coffee Beans
Roasted Organic Coffee Beans

Covid Prevention

Cutting down on your risk of getting Covid by eating a salad and drinking a cup of coffee each day is a bonus. However, none of what the folks at Northwestern say indicates that you should not wear a mask when near strangers or get your Covid vaccinations. The fact is that avoidance of the germ or immunization against the germ are your best courses of action in regard to Covid-19. However, wearing a mask or getting your Covid shots do not help you avoid getting Type II diabetes like drinking coffee does. Neither does wearing a mask or getting vaccinated cut down on your risk of colon cancer, endometrial cancer, stroke, or falling asleep at the wheel when driving at night. Coffee has many benefits on top of which is a ten percent reduction in the risk of getting Covid-19.

Does the Coffee Benefit with Covid Wear Off?

One of the public health concerns as the Covid pandemic wears on it that the virus finds ways to mutate and render some vaccines less effective. The nice part about drinking coffee is that coffee (and vegetables) jazz up your immune system which will help protect you against any germ that comes your way, even a newer version of the coronavirus. What can wear off is the power of the antioxidants in coffee if the coffee becomes stale with time and exposure to air. Thus, your best bet for strong antioxidants is to buy whole bean coffee, green or roasted, store properly, and grind just enough for the day before brewing.

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Why Buy Whole Bean Coffee?

Do you want the best coffee? Whole bean coffee directly from Colombia is a great choice. Do you want the most convenient coffee to make? That is roasted and ground coffee that you can add directly to your coffee maker for your morning cup of Java. Why buy whole bean coffee if it is more work to grind it before starting your morning coffee-making ritual? The reasons are that whole bean coffee is fresher than ground and whole bean coffee is probably better for you.

Freshness of Your Coffee

Coffee is at its freshest when picked and processed on the coffee farm. But, coffee drinkers outside of the topics where coffee is grown need to wait for the coffee to get to them. So, it is important that the processes between the coffee farm and you help retain freshness. Green coffee beans retain their freshness for up to three years when properly stored. But, when coffee farmers in a huge coffee-producing country like Brazil hold their coffee beans back from the market because unfavorable pricing, that coffee goes from top grade to low grade over time. On the other hand, when you buy directly from a supplier in Colombia or another coffee-growing region you avoid this problem.

When to Roast Coffee

While green coffee keeps its freshness for up to three years, roasted coffee stays fresh for up to six months. This is why coffee is shipped as green beans to roasters in North America, Europe, Japan, and everywhere that people love coffee. Roasting coffee and shipping it directly to the store improves the odds that the coffee you get is fresh. Ideally, you will roast your coffee at home just before making coffee. A big part of why coffee house coffee is so good is that they roast their coffee each day.

How Does Drinking Coffee Prevent Type II Diabetes

When to Grind Coffee

To be able to extract the caffeine and flavorful antioxidants from coffee you need to grind it. Ideally, you roast your coffee and then grind it each day. But, as a practical matter most folks do not have time in the morning to roast coffee. They do have time to grind coffee, however. It takes about 15 seconds to put the necessary quantity of beans in a coffee grinder and turn whole beans into ready-to-roast ground coffee. Unfortunately, so many coffee drinkers have never had anything but coffee that is ground and packaged by the roaster. If you are one of these folks please be aware that the reason your coffee from your favorite coffee shop tastes better than your coffee at home is not just because they buy good coffee beans but also because they buy whole bean coffee, green, roast it daily, and grind the roasted coffee beans just before making the coffee.

Clean Your Coffee Maker Regularly

Review our article about the best ways to clean a coffee maker. Don’t wait until you have a mold, yeast, or bacterial problem before cleaning. Don’t wait until your usually-tasty coffee is bitter. It makes no matter if you use a French press or an Ibrik for Turkish coffee, a percolator for large quantities or a simple cloth bag for pour over coffee. When you buy fresh whole bean coffee it deserves a clean coffee maker to give you the best cup of coffee every time.

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Is Cappuccino Good for You?

Cappuccino is a coffee house coffee made from espresso and a small amount of steamed milk along with a layer of foam on the top. It is very tasty and very popular. But, is cappuccino good for you? As it turns out cappuccino is good for you in moderation. Ideally, drink it without adding sugar. Research shows a twenty percent reduction in stroke risk and prevention of heart disease as well as being helpful with digestion. We might have expected this because coffee by itself has been shown to provide many health benefits.

The Coffee in Cappuccino Reduces the Risk of Type II Diabetes

Scientific studies have demonstrated a fifty percent decrease in the risk of developing type II diabetes in coffee drinkers. Drinking a cup and a half a day up to six cups a day is beneficial. The reason for this benefit seems to lie in how antioxidants in coffee reduce inflammation. Cappuccino carries the same benefit as it contains a shot of espresso. The amount of coffee (cappuccino) you drink per day improves your risk up to about six cups.

The Coffee in Cappuccino Reduces the Incidence of Various Types of Cancer

Research studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of colorectal cancer, cancer of the endometrium, skin cancer, and cancer of the liver. In each case there appears to be a relationship between the amount of coffee and the benefit in terms of cancer risk reduction up to a point. And, in each case, the benefit appears to be related to the antioxidants contained in coffee.

Coffee and Health

Drinking Cappuccino Leads to a Longer Life

Specifically, the coffee in cappuccino reduces the risk of various types of cancer, cuts down on how likely you are to get type II diabetes, helps with athletic competition, may actually make sex better, and helps cut down the incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The sum total of these benefits is that drinking coffee (and cappuccino) leads to a longer life. Chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, kahweo and Cafestol compounds, and n-metylpyridium which is produced when coffee is roasted all are beneficial ingredients of coffee. All of these antioxidants reduce the rates of oxidation that occur in both sickness and aging. What research has shown is that the five-year risk of death is reduced in coffee drinkers with the benefit skewed toward people older than age 50.

We Drink Cappuccino Because It Tastes Good

We drink cappuccino because we like the taste. We enjoy it. One of the facts about life that stares us in the face and that we often miss is that people who enjoy themselves take better care of themselves and live longer. Having a cup of cappuccino because we like it is a perfectly good reason to drink any coffee house coffee. And, it is a bonus that any coffee beverage provides a long list of health benefits as well.

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Can You Recycle Coffee Grounds?

Twelve billion pounds of coffee go into brewing coffee every year. This leaves about 18 billion pounds or 9 million tons of wet waste coffee grounds that typically go into landfills or are washed down the drain and end up in streams and rivers. Can you recycle coffee grounds? It turns out that there are several excellent uses for coffee grounds from composting or adding mulch to your garden and deicing winter sidewalks to removing hair product residue.

Coffee Grounds as Pest Repellant

A natural way to keep pests out of your home, off of your pets, or away from vulnerable garden plants is with coffee grounds. If there is a place where an ant colony has access to your home, block the route with coffee grounds and refresh every couple of weeks. The ants will not like the aroma of the coffee grounds and they will interfere with the pheromone trails that they routinely follow.

If you think one of your pets has fleas, take them outside and use a coffee ground body wash to send the fleas packing.

In your garden you can use coffee grounds the same way as with ants to keep snails and slugs under control. Just a line of coffee grounds refreshed from time to time is all that you need.

Fertilizing Your Garden or Flower Box

Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and magnesium which make coffee grounds an excellent natural fertilizer. Because coffee grounds are slightly acidic, avoid using them near crocus, photinia, forsythia, barberry, and lilacs. Unlike when you are keeping pests away from your plants, mix the coffee grounds into the soil instead of just dumping on top of the soil.

Coffee Grounds for Personal Hygiene

Coffee grounds are mildly abrasive and make an excellent exfoliator. A simple recipe for making your coffee ground exfoliator is to mix three parts coffee grounds, one part brown sugar, and one part coconut or almond oil. Adding a few drops of vanilla extract or lemon oil will provide more aroma.

In addition to using coffee grounds to exfoliate, use the same abrasive properties to remove sticky hair cream or shampoo residue. The trick is to mix the coffee grounds with the hair product when you apply and rinse. The residue will leave with the coffee grounds and not cling to your hair.

Can You Recycle Coffee Grounds - Coffee Candles

Light the Night with Coffee Candles

If you like home crafts and want to make candles, consider mixing or layering coffee grounds into your candles. As the candle burns down it exposes the coffee grounds and provides a burst of coffee aroma. Add any other favorite aroma such as lemon or vanilla to complement the aroma of coffee. This is a great way to recycle coffee grounds and not pay for aromatic oils for your homemade candles.

Non-toxic Furniture Restoration

Furniture gets scratched and tarnished with normal use over the years. Rather than buying a toxic cleaner, consider using coffee grounds instead. Simply place a few coffee grounds on the scratch plus a few drops of water. Use a q-tip or cotton swab to buff the area for a minute or so. Wait ten minutes and repeat as needed.

All-Purpose, Organic Deodorizer

Fresh coffee grounds soak up odors and so do used coffee grounds. Put dried coffee grounds in a saucer in the back of the refrigerator or in any area prone to odor accumulation. Switch out every week or two as you will always have a supply of coffee grounds. You can use your grounds this way on their way to the garden. You can even help break down grease buildup in the drain by using a couple of tablespoonsful of coffee along with a few drops of soap and boiling water. Done twice a month this procedure helps prevent clogging.

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Should Your Coffee Creamer Be Organic?

Do you take the time and make the effort to buy organic coffee? Or do you purchase any of the Colombian coffees that are organic in everything but name? Either way, should your creamer be organic too? And, for that matter, should your organic creamer be real cream or milk or a vegetable-based creamer? What are the pros and cons of dairy versus vegetable lookalikes? And, how much of a fuss will it be to find organic creamer to go with your organic coffee?

Organic Dairy Creamer

Organic cream comes from organic milk. Organic milk comes from cows that are fed organic feed and are not given synthetic hormones. Additionally, organic milk comes from cows who do not receive any medications that are specifically proscribed and are generally cared for in a more humane manner than is normal for dairy cattle. That includes more space in their stalls. Like with organic coffee the United States Department of Agriculture certifies organic dairy products so look for the USDA Organic seal when buying organic dairy creamer.

Organic Creamer from Soybeans and Other Vegetables

For people who want to avoid cream with cholesterol, are allergic to dairy products, or want a powdered creamer with a longer shelf life, there are vegetable oil-based organic creamers. Soybeans are a common source of these oils. Farmers who grow organic soybeans do not use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Although American farmers plant millions of acres of soybeans every year only about 100,000 acres are devoted to organic soybeans. The biggest producers of organic soybeans are Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa. Whether your organic coffee creamer is made with soybeans, corn oil, or any other vegetable oil, it needs to get USDA certification showing you that it was planted, grown, harvested, and processed following USDA organic food guidelines. Like with coffee, these organic crops are grown, harvested, processed, and stored so as to avoid contamination of organic crops with non-organic.

Organic Handling of Plant Diseases for Organic Crops

Because a farmer can only use natural methods for dealing with plant diseases, this excludes the use of artificial chemicals. Thus, to avoid many of diseases that are commonly caused by crowding plants together for a higher yield, farmers typically space their organic soybeans and other plants farther apart. More space means faster drying after rainfall and thus less risk of fungal infections like white mold which is a common problem with soybeans.

USDA Organic Coffee Certification Is the Gold Standard
USDA Organic Coffee Certification

Organic Fertilizers for Organic Crops

To avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers, organic farmers use manure from livestock, composts, gypsum, rock phosphates, and limestone. The coffee drinker who prefers organic creamer with organic coffee does not need to know all of the details. Rather they simply look for the USDA Organic label of the product when they purchase it.

Benefits of Vegetable-Based Organic Creamers

Vegetable-based creamers do not have cholesterol or other animal fats and oils. If part of why you drink organic coffee is because of the health benefits, avoiding dairy fats in your creamer is probably a good idea. Another issue that one might not be aware of is that the calcium in dairy products binds to several of the healthy antioxidants in organic coffee making them useless.

As a rule you can find organic creamers where they sell organic coffee.

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Effect of Volcanic Ash on Coffee Plants

We have written about how coffee tends to be grown in regions with rich volcanic soil such as the mountains of Colombia. We also recently noted that coffee grown in the South Pacific is grown on land fertilized by volcanic ash. Before and after photos of the recent eruption of an undersea volcano in the Tonga island group show some islands dusted gray with ash and some completely black with all green plant life invisible. What are the short as well as long term effects of volcanic ash on coffee plants?

Volcanic Ash Effects on Coffee Plants

Many times lava flow from volcanoes wipes out whole fields of coffee but only covers adjacent fields with ash. The eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia in 1985 sent hot mud down the mountain to largely cover the town of Armero killing 20,000 people. Years later the town was never rebuilt but coffee farms cover the region benefitting from the rich soil. But, what happens in the short term? Volcanic ash is usually acidic and sufficient amounts of ash can cover plants and block sunlight.

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Nevado Ruiz Volcano

Volcanic Ash and Acid Rain

All plant life is affected by the acidity of volcanic ash. If it rains while significant amounts of ash are in the air there is acid rain. The EPA reports that acid rain can directly affect all plant life.

Dead or dying trees are a common sight in areas affected by acid rain. Acid rain leaches aluminum from the soil.  That aluminum may be harmful to plants as well as animals. Acid rain also removes minerals and nutrients from the soil that trees need to grow. At high elevations, acidic fog and clouds might strip nutrients from trees’ foliage, leaving them with brown or dead leaves and needles. The trees are then less able to absorb sunlight, which makes them weak.

Coffee plants become dehydrated due to acid rain acidifying the soil excessively and this not only hurts the plants but reduces the quality of the coffee as well.

How Long Can Coffee Survive in the Dark?

If there is enough ash, like on some of the islands in the Tonga group, coffee plants are covered totally and deprived of light. Luckily, coffee is by nature a plant that grows under the forest canopy, a low-light plant. This sort of plant can live between 12 to 20 days when deprived of light. The good news for coffee on Tonga in this regard is that November to April is the rainy season with an average of 8 inches of rain a month and the initial large volcanic eruption occurred in January. So, rain could wash off much if not all of the ash that might otherwise kill coffee plants.

The other part of this issue is that coffee is typically planted on slopes. As such, rain is more likely to carry the ash downhill and off of coffee plants.

The short term effects of volcanic ash on coffee plants can be mildly damaging or devastating, depending on the amounts of ash and its acidity. Nevertheless, over the long term the ash fertilizes the soil and makes for a better coffee crop.

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Coffee from the South Pacific

Coffee grows well in rich volcanic soil and Arabica coffee does best at high altitudes such as in the Andes of Western Colombia. However, there are many other regions of the world with volcanic soil such as the East Indies and South Pacific. Dutch traders carried coffee from East Africa and planted it in the islands of what is today Indonesia. From there it spread throughout the South Pacific. Although coffee from the South Pacific does not grow at 7,000 feet as in Colombia it does grow at altitudes up to three thousand feet on volcanic islands in the South Pacific.

Coffee from Java

The reason that coffee is often referred to as Java is that the Dutch grew coffee on the island of Java in the 1500s. Part of modern day Indonesia, Java has rich volcanic soil which is common to regions of the world like the region around Manizales, Colombia where great coffee grows. Although Java today is just one of the places where coffee is grown it is by no means the dominant supplier of coffee that it was centuries ago.

Coffee from Tonga

A region in the South Pacific where coffee grows was in the news recently because of the eruption of an undersea volcano. Tonga is a collection of islands East of Australia and North of New Zealand. These islands exist because of millions of years of volcanic activity. Although Tonga has many low-lying islands it also has mountains with elevations of up to 3,000 feet. Arabica coffee is grown on the islands of Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai.

Coffee from the South Pacific

The vast majority of coffees grown in the South Pacific (85%) are Robusta and only 15% are Arabica. Nevertheless, South Pacific coffees in general are known to be only moderately acidic and quite smooth. Coffee leaf rust devastated coffee plantations in Ceylon, the Indonesian archipelago, and the South Pacific in the 19th century before moving across Africa to reach Brazil in the 1900s and eventually the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Some Arabica coffee stains in the region evolved to be more resistant to coffee leaf rust (such as on the Island of Timor) and thus, Arabica coffee is grown in the South Pacific along with much more leaf rust resistant Robusta.

South Pacific Volcanoes

The richness of the soil in this region is largely because of its volcanoes. For example, the Tonga collection of islands has 33 volcanoes, three unnamed. Two last erupted in the Holocene about 12,000 years ago, another last erupted three million years ago, and one under water volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai, just erupted and continues to erupt. It is described as a once-every-thousand-years event. Satellite images taken once the initial cloud of ash cleared showed all of the islands in Tonga covered with black-grey ash. This is an ongoing, emergency situation on the Tonga islands but also an example of how volcanoes in the South Pacific have repeatedly covered these islands with fertile ash. That ash has created soil for growing excellent coffee as well as food for the inhabitants. As the following image shows, this process creates new island as well!

Tonga volcanic eruption new island
Volcano Creates New Island in Tonga