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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

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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

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We come again to the familiar coffee-producing neighborhood of the Malay Archipelago, the once (Dutch) East Indies. The archipelago stretches some 3300 miles wide by 1500 miles, and embraces over 4000 islands. Among these are some of the most cherished names in coffee lore: Java, Sumatra, Celebes, and Papua New Guinea. This month we are featuring the coffee of the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sundas, the 13,200 sq. mile island of Timor. Read more

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On the eastern half of New Guinea Island lies the unspoiled republic of Papua New Guinea; Former British colony and UN Trust administered by Australia. Although granted independence in 1974, the economy of PNG remains firmly in the hands of Anglo-Australians. We last featured them in June 1994, though PNG is a regular on the Coffee Works varietals menu.

Slightly larger than California, and endowed with natural resources, Papua New Guinea has one of the most rugged and spectacular topographies on earth; Mountain peaks close to 4,000 meters (12,000 ft), active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, annual rainfall exceeding six feet, and one of the world’s largest swamps. Read more

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“Smooth and Delicious” Legend

Long ago and far away, coffee seedlings were taken by boat from their native Abysinian highlands (today’s Ethiopia), across the Red Sea and planted in the high arid mountains of the southern Arabian peninsula, in what is now Yemen.

For centuries, Arab and then Ottoman traders enjoyed a monopoly on this magically invigorating plant, and to protect it they enforced a strict ban on export of viable seeds of the mother plant. Not until 1690 were plants successfully smuggled to Ceylon and from there to Java, allowing the Dutch East Indies Company to join in competition for the worlds burgeoning coffee thirst. Today more than 85 countries grow it, and coffee is the world’s number one export commodity by dollar value. Still, some legends linger: the botanical name Coffea Arabica is owed to this passage through Yemen, which was formerly just a mountainous corner of a vast exotic land known to us simply as “Arabia”. Read more

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Mention Honduras and the mind conjures up a jumble of non-coffee associations: Tropical rain forests, Sandy beaches, Mayan ruins, Bananas, Panthers, Contras, Crocodiles, Cigars, and, as one tourist brochure poetically puts it, a land still dreaming under the spell of its own natural beauty.

Honduras is almost wholly mountainous, with narrow coastal plains. Two major mountain ranges running east to west divide the nation into halves. It is a republic bordering on Guatemala and El Salvador on the west and Nicaragua on the south and has both a Caribbean and a Pacific coast. The rugged terrain has limited the transportation network and kept the population of five million predominately rural and isolated. (Two out of the three railroads are owned by the banana companies, and all run along the north coast.) Read more