Uganda AA “Bugisu”

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The Pearl of Africa

Is it possible to overstate the importance of the East Africa Rift System to coffee-lovers? On that distant ridge of tropical peaks and highlands, zig-zagging from Sinai to Zimbabwe, the coffee plant made its botanical debut. There, at the edge of the continent, the best of it still thrives.

East of Lake Victoria and Mount Elgon (4,321 m), where the Equator meets the Rift, lie the celebrated Kenya coffee lands. To the West of Elgon lies the lesser-known Bugisu (Boo-gih-shoo), Uganda’s premier growing region. Read more

Myanmar Natural “Golden Triangle”

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The British introduced coffee trees to Burma (now Myanmar) circa 1900. There was a flirt with development in the fifties and sixties, but regional and internal political and economic turmoil left the Myanmar coffee plantations in the stone age of world production. Not good maybe for the central bankers of Myanmar, but oh so perfect conditions for those of us looking for the next source of unspoiled coffee. Read more

Colombia “San Agustin”

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Coffee has been king in Colombia more than a century. Colombia is the world’s largest producer of “mild” arabica coffee, and, next to Brazil, the second largest producer of all coffee. In 1998 it made $565 million as America’s No. 1 supplier.

Call it codependency. The smiling trademarked face of the fictitious Juan Valdez is an icon of Western culture, better known than the logos for CBS and AT&T. Since 1959 Juan has been sent to persuade us that Colombian is “the world’s richest coffee”. Read more

Ethiopia Natural Sidamo

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Call me Mr. Natural

If coffee drinking were a religion, Ethiopia would be the Holy Land. The coffee faithful would trek there, like the annual hadj of Mohammedans to Mecca.

In the Sidamo province of southern Ethiopia, where the Great Rift system lifts the north-eastern African plateau above 5,000 ft., the species coffea originated. It was from here that ancient traders, identities shrouded in the mists of time, ferried plants across the Red Sea to establish the first coffee farms on the arid mountainsides of southern Arabia, today’s Yemen. Read more

Guatemala Huehuetenango

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Way, Way Tasty

As in other parts of the Americas, coffee was introduced to Guatemala by the Spanish, looking to profitably exploit the labor of their Mayan subjects. After independence in 1838, coffee cultivation was neglected until the 1870’s, when it was revived by German businessmen. Prior to WW II German nationals controlled over 60 percent of Guatemala’s coffee output, which was exported to Germany. Read more

Nicaragua “Sabor de Segovia”

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Cooperatively Organic

In Northwestern Nicaragua, where the Coco river runs through the mountainous Segovia district, several hundred small coffee growers form a coffee growing cooperative known as the Prode Co-Op. Prode was organized during the reign of the Sandinista government, to bolster the living standard of Nicaragua’s farm families. Read more