Coffee Farming

All coffee grows in the tropics within the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Most fine coffees grow at altitudes of about 2,400 feet to slightly over 6,000 feet with some exceptions such as Hawaiian Kona which is so far north of the equator coffee there cannot be grown higher than 2,000 feet, it is simply too cold and the freezing temperatures will kill the coffee plant; the other is Brazil where most of their fine Arabica coffee crops are grown at low elevations of seas level up to 2,200 feet. These exceptions to growing elevations are defined as ‘low grown Arabica’.

Coffee growing farmers must make four critical decisions in the pursuit of quality coffees.

  1. The first one is a permanent one: At what location will he grow the coffee be planted, with the acknowledgment that future adjustments can be made as to which mountainous slopes to concentrate on, which areas are less productive, or finding an ecological balance for the overall health of the farm.
  2. What species and cultivar of coffee to grow. Because of coffee’s historical low prices, choices have often been made on the basis of productivity and disease resistance instead of quality.
  3. How to handle the costly cyclical work of maintaining all facilities and the complex care and nutrition for each coffee plant. It takes nine-eleven months from flowering to harvest. Any damage to the ecosystem, whether due to lack of resources, poor craftsman farming, or natural causes can have a crippling effect on a grower farmer.
  4. The final decision is when and how to harvest, coffee must be picked while perfectly ripe, yet this rarely happens. The coffee cherries, are often in varying degrees of ripeness side by side. Each ripe fruit optimally should be handpicked for maximum repeatability of flavor profile from one harvest to another.

See the care Barrie House takes in sourcing its green coffee and the important part fair trade organic coffee plays in the company.