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.

Why Buy Whole Bean Coffee? – SlideShare Version

Why Buy Whole Bean Coffee? – PDF

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.

Is Cappuccino Good for You? – SlideShare Version

Is Cappuccino Good for You? – PDF

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.

Can You Recycle Coffee Grounds – Slideshare Version

Can You Recycle Coffee Grounds? – PDF

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.

Should Your Coffee Creamer Be Organic? – Slideshare Version

Should Your Coffee Creamer Be Organic? – PDF

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.

Buy Arabica Coffee Directly from Colombia
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.

Effect of Volcanic Ash on Coffee Plants – Slideshare Version

Effect of Volcanic Ash on Coffee Plants – PDF

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

How Expensive Will Arabica Coffee Be?

The price of coffee has gone up significantly. Commodities, in general, are up due to Covid-era inflation but coffee has outpaced them all and sits at a ten-year high as noted in Fortune. While both Arabica and Robusta coffee futures are up significantly, Arabica has outpaced its higher-caffeine cousin in the race of coffee prices to the top. The issue of expensive Arabica coffee is not confined to this year and the era of Covid-19. Climatic changes will effect coffee production and prices into the far future. How expensive will coffee be going forward?

Why Has the Price of Coffee Gone Up This Year?

The global coffee supply chain mess has been part of the picture so have higher labor and energy prices that effect costs from the farm all the way to your breakfast table. On top of that there is a drought in Brazil, the big dog in the coffee-producing world. While Vietnam exports a bit more Robusta than Brazil and Colombia exports more Arabica coffee, Brazil comes in a close second in both while Vietnam does not produce Arabica and Colombia does not grow anything but Arabica. Thus, Brazil is the largest coffee producer and exporter in the world by a long shot. The global coffee “deficit” due to Brazil’s drought is about 5.2 million bags (70 kg bags).

Why Will the Price of Arabica Coffee Keep Going Up Year by Year?

Back in the summer of 2021 we wrote about climate change and coffee production. As we noted in that article, the steady increase in temperatures has forced coffee farmers to grow their highest-quality Arabica coffees at higher and higher altitudes to avoid infestations of coffee leaf rust and pests like the coffee borer beetle. Because mountains get narrower as you approach the top, coffee farmers in regions like Colombia will have less and less land on which to plant their highest quality coffee over the years. Their alternatives for lower-lying cropland will be, in many areas, to switch to Robusta or other varieties that do better in heat, are more resistant to leaf rust and other diseases, and allow them to continue to farm to make a living.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee - Nevado del Huila
Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

Will New Coffee Varieties Help Keep Coffee Prices Down?

Colombia started working on leaf rust resistant coffee nearly 50 years ago and has developed several crosses between standard Arabica coffee and leaf rust resistant strains from Timor in the East Indies. Caturra is one that is grown extensively in the lower altitudes of the Colombia coffee growing region (3,000 to 5,000 feet). If the Colombian Coffee Growers Association plant scientists pull off a miracle, they may be able to keep growing high quality Arabica coffee at all altitudes. If not, the supply of Arabica from the largest Arabica producer, Colombia, will gradually be reduced. The law of supply and demand will exert itself and the price of the best quality coffee will gradually climb, year by year. The overall price for much of the coffee that people drink may not go up so much because people will be drinking more Robusta and similar varieties with more caffeine, less flavor, less aroma, and more-affordable prices.

How Expensive Will Arabica Coffee Be? – Slideshare Version

Drink Coffee and Live Longer

We drink coffee because we like it. Coffee helps us wake up in the morning and helps keep us awake and alert as the day presses on. It may come as a surprise to many people that coffee has a host of other benefits that result in a longer life as well. You can drink coffee and live longer because coffee reduces the risk of type II diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, heart attacks, and colon cancer. And, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases,

How Much Coffee Is Good for You?

Evidence from various studies indicates that the beneficial effects of drinking coffee keep increasing up to about six cups a day. After that you just get the jitters, the possibility of raising your blood pressure, and gastritis from all of that caffeine. From one to six cups it appears that the benefits of drinking coffee go up in a linear fashion. To the extent that coffee does give you the shakes or drive up your blood pressure, you can still get some of the benefits with a cup or two a day and do not need to drink six. And, because the benefits from drinking coffee come primarily from the antioxidants, decaffeinated coffee provides the same general benefits in most cases as normal coffee.

Why Can You Drink Coffee and Live Longer?

The reason you can drink coffee and live longer is that coffee contains antioxidants.

The American Institute for Cancer Research says that coffee contains the following antioxidants, chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, kahweo and Cafestol compounds, and n-metylpyridium which is produced when coffee is roasted.

Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit cell damage and cell death in human cells caused by oxidative breakdown of other molecules. Oxidation is a factor in sickness and aging.  Antioxidants in coffee do the same things chemically as other antioxidants in your food.

Antioxidants help avoid the damage caused by too much oxidation and to a degree slow the aging process. When an oxidative reaction caused by disease gets going it produces free radicals that start the chain reactions which in turn cause cell and tissue damage. The human body has and uses antioxidants to control this situation. Natural means of controlling oxidation include vitamins C and E and glutathione. Low levels of antioxidants lead to a condition referred to as oxidative stress and resultant damage to cells in the body. This breakdown product of trigonelline has been found to increase activity of phase II enzymes. Doctors believe that these enzymes protect against colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the USA.

The bottom line is that you can drink coffee and live longer while you enjoy your delicious coffee from Colombia. If you want better tasting coffee with better aroma and coffee that helps you live longer, buy Arabica coffee instead of Robusta and get a high antioxidant level in your coffee instead of lots of caffeine.  If you would like a few sample packets from Colombia, contact us for instructions.

How Does Drinking Coffee Prevent Type II Diabetes

Drink Coffee and Live Longer – Slideshare Version

Coffee and Stroke

Over the years evidence has accumulated for many beneficial health effects of drinking coffee. Drinking coffee reduces the risk of type II diabetes. Drinking coffee also reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. From helping with liver problems to improving athletic performance and even making sex better, a good cup of coffee is a great addition to our lives. Now investigations regarding coffee and stoke indicate that coffee is helpful in this arena as well.

Dementia and Stroke

According to the World Health Organization more than 55 million people suffer from dementia. It is the seventh leading cause of mortality across the globe. Dementia is a catch all for the generalized decline in mental function seen primarily in older people. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. In the USA stroke is the leading cause of death with more than 795,000 having strokes each year. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or ruptures. This deprives brain tissue of blood supply and that tissue dies.

How are Dementia and Stroke Related?

The two share sixty percent of the same risk factors as well as factors that prevent each of them. Having a stroke greatly increases the risk of dementia and researchers estimate that if all strokes were prevented that the incidence of dementia would go down by a third. When looking at ways to prevent strokes researchers look at many factors including lifestyle and one lifestyle factor is drinking coffee or tea. Because so many people drink these beverages any effect they have will be widely felt.

Cup of Java
Two to Three Cups a Day Reduces Incidence
of Strokes and Dementia

Can Coffee Prevent a Stroke?

Previously it has been shown that people who drink coffee or tea have a reduced risk of dementia compared to those who do not drink these beverages but there was little evidence relating to stroke. Thus the researchers looked at consumption of coffee, tea, or both as factors relating to incidence of stroke. They looked at the U.K. Biobank which contains health data for half a million people in the United Kingdom. They selected 365,682 participants chosen between 2006 and 2010 and followed their medical records until 2020.

Enrollees in the study reported how much coffee and tea they drank each day and the researchers looked at how many enrollees had a stroke and/or developed dementia during the period of the study. Using statistical analysis tools they accounted for things that would confuse the study such as smoking, alcohol use, diabetes, and other conditions.

Coffee and Tea Drinking Reduce the Incidence of Both Dementia and Stroke

During the course of the study 5,079 people were diagnosed with dementia and 10,053 with at least one stroke. When researchers looked at levels of coffee and tea consumption with those studied, they found that the lowest risks of both dementia and stroke were found in those who drank two to three cups of coffee a day, three  to five cups of tea a day, or four to six cups of tea and coffee a day. The coffee and tea group (two to three cups of coffee or two to three cups of tea) were 32% less likely to have had a stroke and 28% less likely to have developed dementia.

Coffee and Stroke – Slideshare Version

Why the Soil Is So Fertile Where They Grow Colombian Coffee

The “ocean of jungle” that still exists in parts of the Colombian coffee growing region is similar to what is seen in Hawaii or on the sides of Mt. Fuji in Japan. This lush growth is the result of volcanic activity. This is why the soil is so fertile where they grow Colombian coffee. Although volcanic eruptions can be hugely destructive they leave behind soil rich in nutrients that support healthy plant growth. The lava that flows intermittently from a volcano creates new land but the ash that can fall over hundreds of square miles is a constant source of nutrients. This is the case with Nevado Del Ruiz, the 15,500 foot volcano located 35 miles Southwest of Manizales, Colombia along the Colombian Northern Volcanic Front.

Nevado Del Ruiz Volcano Constantly Fertilizes the Colombian Coffee Growing District

Nevado Del Ruiz is a very broad volcano, capped by glaciers and extensive snow fields. There is evidence of it erupting going back 8,600 years and eruptions have been observed since 1570. This volcano was responsible for the greatest loss of life from a volcano in the history of Latin America when its 1985 eruption melted the dome of snow and ice. The resulting slurry of mud and ash inundated the towns of Amaro and Chinchina killing more than 20,000 people. Chinchina today is a thriving region for growing coffee and the town has come back. Amaro never rebuilt but coffee production on the regrown region is spectacular. Residents of Manizales routinely need to dust off their cars parked in the street and their balconies when the wind from the Southwest brings volcanic ash. This ash constantly fertilizes the departments of Caldas and Tolima.

Constituents of Colombian Volcanic Soil

Volcanic soil is in a soil category called anisols and can be derived from both lava and ash. This soil is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon and many other trace elements. When this kind of soil receives ample precipitation such as occurs across the coffee growing regions of Western Colombia it provides an ideal soil for growing virtually anything and especially an ideal soil for growing great Arabica coffee.

Continuing Activity of Nevado Del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz is in the news again due to increased emissions of ash. This is not really news in Manizales where “ Los Nevados” the several snow covered volcanos to the Southwest as well as the rest of the Northern Colombian Volcanic Front are a fact of life. Ever since the 1985 eruption and huge loss of life Colombia has diligently monitored the volcano and others. Meanwhile, Nevado Del Ruiz continues to fertilize the region of Western Colombia where they grow some of the best coffee in the world.

Colombian Northern Volcanic Front
Colombian Northern Volcanic Front

Caldera of Nevado Del Ruiz
Caldera and Snow-Covered Summit of Nevado del Ruiz

Rainfall Is Important for Volcanic Soil in Colombia

There are volcanic regions of the world that are barren. This is because they receive no rainfall. The rich nutrients in volcanic lava and ash are typically too strong and will diminish plant growth if there is not enough water. Manizales, the capital of the department of Caldas receives anywhere from five to nine inches of rain a month. Farther West near Buenaventura the annual rainfall is more than double that.

The bottom line is that Western Colombia is one of the most fertile regions in the world with high mountains that receive ample rainfall making it one of the best places on earth to grow coffee.

Why the Soil Is So Fertile Where They Grow Colombian Coffee – Slideshare Version