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Growing Regions

In the Growing Regions section you will learn about coffee growing countries of the world, including a brief historical background, the introduction of coffee, and the people who are dependant upon coffee for their livelihood. Discover how soil types, temperatures, altitudes and more give a growing region its unique coffee characteristics.

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Coffees from Around the World
Costa Rica
Papua New Guinea

Coffees from Around the World

There are over 50 countries where coffee beans are grown, but the majority of commercially available coffees come from a few very industrialized countries that have not only perfect growing conditions, but also keep a consistent flavor to their beans through mass-farming and quality control methods.

In Eastern Africa and the Middle East, the coffee is widely considered to be outstanding. Alluring and complex, the coffees from this part of the world can contain wonderful flavors, such as blueberries, citrus fruits, cocoa, and spices, which keep drinkers guessing. Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen are particular hot spots.

Latin America is the coffee powerhouse, with Brazil and Colombia growing more coffee than any five countries combined. The Latin American coffees are usually lighter, with a tangy quality, which makes them great for blending. Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Jamaica Blue Mountain and Costa Rica chip in with their own unique stylings.

Asian countries go the other way, producing a full-bodied, thicker coffee with distinct flavoring, which makes them ideal for blends that require a little deepening. Indonesia grows most of the Asian coffee beans of quality, though Korea is also producing its fair share of the lower end of the market.

Each of these nations has their own distinct coffee flavor, and most major coffee producers actively work to keep it that way. If a sneaky Korean coffee farmer decided to import Brazilian plants, not only would the natural taste of the Brazilian bean eventually change due to different weather, soil and altitude, but the buyers would be annoyed that the lines between varieties have been crossed.

All countries have varieties of their natural coffee beans, such as shade-grown, conservation coffees, fair trade coffees, organic, decaf and more.
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Brazil occupies more landmass than any other South American nation, and is a world leader in plant, animal, mineral and energy production. Ten million Brazilians depend upon coffee for their existence. Coffee is only 10% of the GNP of Brazil...but that 10% amounts to 35% of the world's coffee supply.

The rich, deep "terra roxa" soil of Brazil is ideal for producing coffee. Many of the Brazilian coffees are harvested mechanically; all of the coffee cherries are stripped from the branches without regard to their ripeness. Such coffees are typically used in institutional applications, or are converted into soluble coffees. Only 10% of Brazil's coffees are actually good enough to be considered "specialty coffees".

Despite the fact that only 10% of the Brazilian coffee exports are classified as "Specialty Coffee", when nature causes havoc with the Brazilian coffee crop, the entire coffee world feels the tremors. Why? Well, the answer lies in the sheer volume of Brazil's overall coffee production, and in the volume of coffee required by the Brazilian coffee customer. Because Brazil's largest customers are massive multi-national institutional coffee companies, their need for raw materials does not slow because of drought, heat, or frost in Brazil. When Brazil's coffee output is interrupted, these multi-nationals shop elsewhere. And despite the higher prices of specialty coffees grown in other parts of the world, the large multi-nationals focus their considerable buying power on these alternate sources when their usual source dries up.

The market value of specialty coffee becomes even higher as these multi-nationals create shortages. The end result is that coffee prices go up, and continue to rise if the next harvest season reflects sustained damages. Hopefully, Brazil won't have another bad year like the one it had a couple of years ago.

With a multi-million bag coffee production, it is not easy to find high quality Arabica coffees. The primary areas where these coffees are grown are South Minas, Mogiana, Cerrado, and Bahia. Tradition couples with high technology and most important, personal touch enable these choice areas to bring to the market only the finest coffees produced in the country.

The dry winters of the Savannah highlands of Bahia and Northern Minas Gerais and their proximity to the Equator line yield highly aromatic coffees. The Cerrado highlands of the Western Minas Gerais benefit from well defined seasons, uniform maturation and plenty of sunshine to produce a cup with perfect balance between body and acidity. The South Minas and Mogiana Mountains are well known for coffees with very good body and aroma and a degree of natural sweetness not found elsewhere in the world.
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Colombia is a country rich in coffee tradition. There are many versions of the origin of coffee in Colombia. Some say that it came by way of Venezuela, its neighbor to the northeast, while others speculate that it came from Central American countries to the immediate north. The most widely accepted version is that in the early 1700's a coffee tree was planted in the Jesuit-founded Santa Teresa de Tabage Mission located at the outlet of the Meta River onto the Orinoco River.

In 1736, seeds were taken to Popayan, to the southwest of Colombia and planted by a local monastery. From here on there are many documents making reference to coffee being planted in various areas of the country and its rapid growth and flourishing.

It was only in 1835 that the first commercial crops of coffee were grown in the "Los Santanderes" district. From 1850 onwards, coffee spread to other regions of the country. The spreading was facilitated between 1874 and 1900 after the construction of the "Ferrocarril de Antioquia" - the Antioquia Railroad, as it made it much easier for coffee producers to transport their crops throughout the country.

Three Andes Mountain ranges, known as "cordilleras", are the main coffee producing areas. These ranges run from north to south and fall within the eastern and central cordilleras where the soil is volcanic and altitudes range from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. Colombia's 300,000 farms each average less than 8 acres and tend to be family ownded and operated.

Colombia is ideally suited for coffee growing. The soil is a mixture of humus and volcanic rock, providing fertility and good drainage. The consistent weather guarantees a reoccurring pattern of blooming, fruiting and harvesting. It is not uncommon to see the flowers, ripe and unripe cherries on the tree simultaneously.

Colombia's rich soil characteristics helped in the progress and growth of coffee, however, it was only one of the few elements that made Colombia embrace the production of coffee to the degree that it has since the late 1800's. Colombia was looking for a product that would provide a certain level of income to support the economy and help in its development. Over 350,000 families live on the proceeds of the farming, processing and selling of coffee. In terms of production, Colombia ranks first as World producer of Washed coffee, first as exporter of Arabica coffee, and second as World Producer in all categories of coffee production. On a yearly average Colombia produces 12.5 million bags (154 lbs. each).

Colombia's Specialty Coffees are produced by a dedicated group of farmers (cafeteros) with diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultural traditions. These cafeteros rely on traditional production practices; using predominantly old arabica varieties that continue to flourish in small farms, constantly shaded by the mountain's trees. All Specialty Coffees from Colombia are diligently washed and carefully sun and air dried by the hardworking cafeteros. Due to the diverse cultural traditions, cafeteros' processing methods may vary in each region. It is precisely this range of practices that contribute to the medley of characteristics unique to these community specific coffees.

The two main coffees exported from Colombia are Excelso and Supremo. Excelso is a soft and slightly acid coffee, whereas Supremo is a sweet coffee with a delicate, aromatic taste and light body. Officially, the difference between Excelso and Supremo is only the size of the beans. However, Supremo is generally produced by the private sector that cares better for its production, exports coffees harvested around their facilities and can therefore better guarantee the origin.

Colombian Coffee has high quality control standards. It starts in the farm where the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia sends an appointed official to inspect each farm for sanitary conditions, healthy trees and the quality of each harvest. The inspector checks to see if the beans have been washed properly. He looks for adequate bean size, color texture and overall quality. If the farm and the beans pass inspection, the beans are put into burlap bags and loaded into jeeps. In certain regions, mules and donkeys are still an important mode of transportation from the farm to the market.

Colombia has been working on an advertising program to increase consumption. The campaign is "100% Colombian" and includes Juan Valdez. It has made Colombian coffee probably the most recognizable coffee in the world. Since 1995, GNP of coffee in Colombia has risen from 2.5% to 5%, in part from this campaign. Results of this increase helped developed social development by adding healthcare facilities, classrooms, rural aqueducts, and power distribution.

Colombian coffees contain rich flavor and aroma, and finish with a big, strong body.
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Costa Rica

Located on the narrow Central American isthmus, Costa Rica is a small mountainous country in which it's only a day's drive from the nothern border to the southern border and only a 3-hour drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.

Costa Rica is notable among Latin America countries for its long-standing democratic form of government. Being a non-aggressive country with no military, they've put their money into education, health services and economy. Computers and modern technology are used in business and machinery is used in farming. Occasionally you will still see an ox-cart.

Costa Rica enjoys an immense diversity of climates and ecosystems. Mountain jungles, steaming volcanoes, and misty rainforests are just part of Costa Rica's twelve major life zones. Nine volcanoes are still active in Costa Rica, producing boiling mud pots, sulfurous lakes, hissing fumaroles, and thermal streams. Temperatures average from 59F in the highlands to 80F in the plains. Nearly 25% of the land is under government protection.

The population is predominantly of European descent, particularly Spanish. One quarter of the "ticos" are occupied in farming. Coffee, the nation's principal export, is produced on small farms and plantations in the central plateau. Twenty percent of the national income now comes from manufacturing and tourism.

All grown coffee in Costa Rica is Arabica; law strictly prohibits growing the inferior Robusta bean. The bluish green Costa Rican beans were brought over from Cuba in 1779. The finest coffees are grown in the mountainous Central area named Tarrazzu.

Costa Rican coffees are labeled by growing region, or by finca or plantation name, or even by the plant where the coffee was processed. The latter usually indicates that the coffee has been grown on a smaller farm. Some smaller independent growers bring their produce to the processing plant, where the crop is combined with those from similar regional growers before processing.

There are three types of Arabica coffee grown in Costa Rica; GHB, SHB and HGA. GHB stands for Good Hard Bean and indicates a growing elevation of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. SHB stands for Strictly Hard Bean, and indicates a bean grown at an elevation between 4,500 and 6,000 feet. HGA stands for High Grown Atlantic, and are SHB coffees that are grown on the eastern slope of the cordillera and get more rain from the Caribbean influence. These beanse are larger, but have less body and aroma.

The soil in the coffee growing region is lush and fertile. From time to time, the coffee plantations, or "fincas" are destroyed by erupting volcanoes - while this is certainly devastating for a period of time, as trees are re-cultivated and given time to approach maturity, the volcanoes serve to re-fertilize teh soil, and increase the overall coffee yield.

Over 400,000 people depend upon coffee for their year-round survival in Costa Rica. During the pre-arranged 3-month school vacation period, which coincides with harvesting, the number of coffee-dependent persons increases to a full 750,000. As a nation, Costa Rica depends upon coffee for 25% of its GNP. Although only about one-third of the potential coffee-growing land is exploited, further development of coffee lands is discouraged by the government, which leans toward a more diversified product mix.

However, as production techniques continue to improve, and modern farming practices are brought in, the overall coffee production is rising. The use of fertilizers has greatly increased the yield per tree. Terraces are frequently built on the sides of the mountains to facilitate irrigation and control erosion. In order to minimize the amount of artificial shading needed to protect the trees, the trees are planted very close together, providing shade for each other. Tree density alone is responsible for greatly increasing the country's coffee yield.

Costa Rican coffee is considered by some to be one the best Central American coffees, possessing a very full body and flavor, with just a touch of acidity. It is most frequently used in America as a favorite ingredient in many blends; however, Costa Rican coffee is one Europe's favorites, particularly in France.
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Ethiopia is located in Eastern Africa, bordering on the Red Sea. It is southeast of Sudan, North of Kenya, and west of Somalia. This country has a population of 48 million; 12 million of which are dependent on coffee for their survival. In addition to coffee, Ethiopia produces haricot beans, teft, oil seeds, grains and cotton, as well as goat and sheepskins and leather. The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, and the primary religion of this country is Coptic Christianity and Islam.

Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee, because it was found growing wild approximately 1,300 years ago in Kaffa, a region in the southwestern part of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Monks later cultivated it because they needed to stay awake during nightlong religious ceremonies. According to some sources, the word Coffee is derived from the name of Ethiopia's Kaffa region.

Coffee is grown primarily in the Southwest region, in the areas of Illubabor and Wollega ranging in altitudes from 4,200 to 6,800 feet. Most Ethiopian coffees are considered Highland Coffees, grown under humid shade and in light acidic soil. The country's rainy season is from June through September, and coffee is harvested from October to March, and July to December. The preparation of the beans varies from area to area (dry vs wet method).

Coffee plays a vital role in the Ethiopian GNP, contributing nearly 60 percent of the country's export earnings. This equals 6% of the total GNP. Ethiopia is the first African producer of Arabica coffee, and the 7th world producer, and has 35-40 million acres of coffee trees, and an additional 5 million acres of wild, unexploited coffee trees. There are over 33,130 peasant coffee farms, 19,000 state farms, and numerous small family-run farms. Local consumption of coffee is 1.2 million bags.

Ethiopia produces many fine coffees, such as Harrar, Sidamo, Djimmah, and Yirgacheffe. These coffees are known for their slightly wild taste and unique aroma, and are considered some of the world's most biologically pure coffees.
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Haiti, located in the Caribbean Sea just southeast of Cuba and neighboring the Dominican Republic, is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The average income per year is $370 per person, or $31 a month. Think about this: What we spend on a pair of blue jeans is equivalent to what an average Haitian earns in a month.

Because of Haiti's export industry and other various socio-political reasons, the last 10 generations of coffee farmers have been losing their skills of producing high quality coffee. Every year the production quantity of coffee fell, as well as the wages, in a continual cycle.

Enter U.S. A.I.D (U.S. Agency for International Development) funding to assist selected coffee farmers to begin a project to revitalize their industry. A non-government organization named I.I.C.A (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture) from Central America was appointed to administer the program, and they in turn hired industry experts in agriculture and marketing for direction in plan development and execution.

From 1990 to 1996, the project spent $5.8 million to help 20,000 farmers belonging to 24 local cooperatives. The project united them into a single federation, which acquired an export license in order to sell the coffee directly to customers abroad. That cut out brokers in Haiti, which increased the farmers' potential share of profits from their coffee, project managers say.

The project-helped farmers plant 4,350 acres of coffee. This effort, along with planting new trees on existing plantations, required 5.7 million coffee seedlings, along with nearly a quarter-million plantain plants and 30,500 citrus trees. Because coffee needs moist soil, coffee farmers plant other trees around the coffee to provide shade.

Agriculture agents working for the project helped farmers boost production by improving techniques, too. They shared information about properly spacing coffee trees, replacing old trees that have passed their peak years, and other ways to produce more beans on the same land.

To launch the project's second phase, marketing in the United States, the cooperatives also needed new facilities for processing the coffee, a necessary step in meeting the demands of specialty coffee shops. The agricultural institute helped the farmers set up 23 processing plants to wash the beans, sort out only the ripe beans, and then sun-dry them on clean, cement drying beds. The coffee is then sold to exclusive U.S. coffee roasters who then market it.

The focus throughout all of the stages of planning was to grow the highest quality coffee ever produced in Haiti. They succeeded, and named it Haitian Bleu. The "blue bean" of Haiti is perfectly balanced, with rich flavor, snappy acidity and wonderful mellow body. This coffee rates as one of the worlds best.

The coffee industry has allowed Haitians to rise above their poverty, political strife and violence in an attempt to control and enrich their lives.

Interesting facts about Haiti:
   One out of every six people in Haiti relies on the coffee industry for survival.
   Coffee accounts for 30% of Haiti's products, making it #1.
   There are over 145,000 hectares of coffee cultivated in Haiti.
   Haitian Bleu coffee is grown at altitudes of over 6,000 feet.
   Haiti means "land of mountains".
   Haiti's #1 religion is Voodooism.
   Haiti is about the size of Maryland.
   The official languages are French and Creole.
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In the mid-to-late 1600's, Dutch traders became interested in the possibilities of coffee cultivation and trading. In 1696, they brought cuttings of coffee trees from India to the island of Java in what was known then as the West Indies. Ten years later, in 1706, the first crop of Java coffee beans along with a coffee plant was shipped to the Amsterdam botanical gardens. Trees cultivated in this garden were sent to other botanical gardens around Europe and eventually to the royal botanical gardens of King Louis XIV of France in 1714. The seeds from the King's tree were sent to all of his New World colonies and eventually to South America, Central America and Mexico.

The islands of the Dutch West Indies, now Indonesia, were among the world's first great coffee producers. The coffees from these islands were marketed as Java's, takining their name from the island of which the Dutch maintained their capitaol, Batavia, now called Djakarta. During the 1800's, coffees grown in the same part of the world and having similar characteristics were also marketed under the generic term "Java". In 1906, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture ruled that only Arabica coffee from the Java island could be marketed as Java coffee.

Throughout the 600-mile chain of volcanoes that run the entire length of Java, many private coffee plantations on the highland slopes and in the valleys, between 4,000 and 5,000 ft level can be found. In this range, 15 volcanoes rise about 10,000 feet and 44 are between 6,500 and 10,000 feet. Blawan, Jampit, Pancur and Kayumas, 18th century Dutch Government Coffee Estates, are the excellent producers of this popular blend we all enjoy as Mocha Java. The estates are located less than 100 miles from Bali on the Ijean Plateau of East Java.

As a stand-alone coffee, Java Estate has enjoyed a popular following because in North America, Java has become synonymous with the word coffee itself. Java is a smaller bean, has a sweet acidity, but a distinct Indonesian spicy note; the coffee is milder than its cousin to the west on Sumatra. It's fine green appearance is a tribute to the Dutch innovation of processing that was introduced during colonial times from the West Indies, "W.I.B." (West Indish Bereiding - Antilles Preparation), otherwise known as washed coffee or wet process.
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Come to the island where lush green mountains sweep into the crystal waters of the Caribbean! The setting is an island populated by a warm and hospitable people and blessed with an abundance of nature's bounty. Relaxing on a sparkling white sand beach, rafting on a river, bird watching, horseback riding, golf and tennis, are just some of the pleasures that visitors can enjoy, which, like the taste of exotic palette-pleasing cuisine and the beat of reggae music, will linger long after the visit is over. Where else could this island be...exotic Jamaica.

Surrounded by the crystal clear Caribbean Sea and 150 miles of sugar white beaches, the island of Jamaica is 146 miles long and about 50 miles wide, with 120 rivers and 6 mountain ranges, including the Blue Mountains, which produces the coffee bean that makes world famous Blue Mountain Coffee. A friendly English speaking island that offers relaxed ambiance that seems so far away from it all, yet offering a sophisticated amenity to pamper you in paradise, you'll find great beauty and soothing serenity wherever you go in Jamaica. From forest clad mountains with countless species of flora to coral reefs teaming with exotic fish. From modern seaside resorts to quaint picturesque fishing villages. All this and more combines to offer so much to do and such a wonderful place to do nothing at all.

Jamaican History:

Christopher Columbus discovered Jamaica on May 4, 1494. The Spanish (who ruled the island until 1655) were the first Europeans to explore the Caribbean. They eventually settled the Greater Antilles and either killed or absorbed the Arawak Indians native to the larger islands. The Antilles held a favored position because of their proximity to gold deposits, supply of Indian labor, easy access, fertile soil, and favorable climate. The region became known for its production of sugar, coffee, spices, and tropical fruits. The importance of the Antilles declined as the Spanish advanced into the New World through Mexico and Peru, and the islands mostly became supply bases. For centuries the Caribbean was a war zone fought over by European powers - England, France, Spain, and Holland - as well as pirates.
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The country of Kenya is characterized by grand, panoramic countryside, dangerously beautiful wild animals, delicious teas and coffees, and engaging people. K. Blixen's "Out of Africa" was set in Kenya, and the film that stars Robert Redford and Merryl Streep is imbued with much of the nation's rich charm.

Coffee was first introduced to Kenya by the Fathers of the Holy Spirit congregation at the end of the 19th Century. These coffees included Bourbon coffees from the island of Reunion, with coffees from the Indies arriving at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The main coffee growing region is between the capitol of Nairobi in the Aberdare Range, and on the plateaus surrounding Mt. Kenya, 100 miles to the north of the equator. These plateaus are at high levels, reaching altitudes between 4,900 and 6,800 feet. All around Mt. Kenya, coffee thrives in the fertile, red volcanic soil with as little as 40 to 50 inches of rain annually.

One often hears of Elephant coffees coming from Kenya. These are larger, but not necessarily more flavorful beans that break easily during processing and are called ears. Another variety of note is Ruiri II - a hybrid variety first introduced in 1990 that permits a 60% cost reduction due to the plant's natural resistance to pestilence.

The soil of the Kenyan countryside is rich and volcanic; unfortunately, only about 33% of the soil is actually arable. An additional 20% would be more fertile if it could be irrigated. Kenya's farmers produce 250 million pounds of Arabica coffee a year, on 350,000 small farms, each averaging a half-acre. Kenya is Africa's 2nd largest producer of coffee, right behind its neighbor to the north, Ethiopia.

Kenya takes its coffee industry very seriously; it is illegal to tear out a coffee tree or to damage a plantation. Coffee trees cannot be torn up until they have matured beyond 40 years. As a result, Kenya is cited as the country with the world's most sophisticated methods of producing, processing and marketing coffee. The farmers are required to grow other food crops to assure balance in domestic food needs.

No other coffee growing nation pays such strict attention to quality of production and grading. Virtually every bean grown for export is catalogued by growing district, graded and brought to auction in Nairobi where brokers from around the world bid on the best coffees. The country's goal is to one-day produce the world's finest coffee that will yield, of course, the world's highest price! As you will note, the quality is well on the way...perhaps if they could control the periodic droughts that plague the region, they would have already replaced Jamaica Blue Mountain as the world's most valued coffee.
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Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country and the second largest Roman Catholic nation in the world. The country's name is taken from the Mexica, one of seven Nahuatti tribes that inhabit the central region of the country.

Coffee was introduced into Mexico at the end of the 18th century from Havana, Cuba, and was originally cultivated in the state of Veracruz. Over 3 million Mexican people are dependent upon coffee for the living wage. Over 800,000 acres of land are planted with over 538 million trees - each of which can produce a pound of coffee each year. Although over 50% of the coffee produced in Mexico is consumed domestically, the finer Mexican beans are reserved for export. Of these, the United States purchases 60 and 70 percent. The country ranks as the fifth largest world producer.

The majority of Mexico's 120,000 coffee farms each cover less than 30 acres. Harvesting takes place from August through November at lower altitudes and from November through January at the higher altitudes. Almost all Mexican coffee is of the 100% washed Arabica variety.

There are two grades of specialty coffee grown in Mexico. The Altura HG is a classification of Mexican high-grown coffee at altitudes between 3,280 and 5,250 feet. The designation SHG is the very best grade of Mexican coffee, which stands for "Strictly High Grown", and is grown at altitudes of over one mile high.

These SHG coffees have rich flavor and good aroma. More yellow than other Central American coffees, the best-known SHG's are Oaxacan Pluma, Veracruz Coatepecs, and Chiapas Tapachulas.

Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ka-ha) coffee is generally known as Plumas. These coffees come from the southern coastal and eastern part of the Pluma Hidalgo district in Mexico. The Coatepecs come from the Veracruz district where the coffees grow on tropical volcanic slopes, with rich soil, perfect temperature, and high altitude, all necessary for growing gourmet coffees. Chiapas coffees are not quite as well known. They are grown in teh southern most district of Mexico, with good highlands and bordering the Huehuetenango Guatemala.
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Papua New Guinea

The country of Papua New Guinea is a relatively new contributor to the specialty coffee world. Until fairly recently, the land was a territory governed by Great Britain. In 1942/43, the territory of New Guinea, which was governed by Australia since 1921, was officially joined with Papua by a mandate of the League of Nations. This mandate included the islands of New Britain, the Solomon Islands, and New Ireland. The national language is still a combination of English and the local dialects; often referred to as "pidgin". Despite their independence, the natives have had some difficulty with the adjustment to self-government.

This tiny equatorial country is the home of 3,500,000 people, who belong to as many as 750 different tribes. Stripped of their indigenous way of life, with no balanced lifestyle to replace it, the tribes find themselves continually struggling over territory.

Papua New Guinea is beset with periodic earthquakes, and even more often with bouts of native unrest, which is referred to as "The Violence of the Rascals". Because of this, western institutions are heavily guarded, often surrounded by barbed wire to protect foreign visitors.

As the tribesmen themselves work the coffee fields, from time to time, the periods of civil unrest interrupt the coffee harvest season. Despite these drawbacks, Papua New Guinea is the home of some of the world's finest coffee.

On the east side of the island, endless jungle and swamps cover the land, with a 700-mile chain of volcanic mountains running down the middle of the backbone. The ideal climate and altitude for wet process coffee production is found in the central mountainous highland area. Here the land is covered with rich, volcanic soil, with mountainous peaks reaching up to 13,123 feet. The climate is perfect; with the hot, equatorial sun, and lots of rain (approximately 98.5 inches per year).

Coffee was first explored from Papua New Guinea in 1950. They produce over 150 million pounds of coffee a year, over which 70% comes from small farms.

Coffee Masters purchases green coffee from the area known as Sigri, located in the Wahgi Valley in the Western Highland province. Sigri has been internationally recognized as producing a specialty coffee equal to the world's best for more than 20 years.

Grown at 5,000 feet above sea level, this coffee is a direct descendent of the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee that was brought in and planted in 1931. All Sigri coffee is a washed Arabica, and undergoes rigorous quality control tests. The rich, mild flavor of the Papua New Guinea coffee is very similar to that of Jamaican Blue Mountain, because the beans are grown high in the mountains, in a rich, volcanic soil similar to that of Jamaica.
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In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990.

The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but about 10,000 that remain in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo have formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. (Source: CIA 2005 World Fact Book).

Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms, including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003, respectively, the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance. Kigali's increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts to escape its bloody legacy (Source: CIA 2005 World Fact Book).

Rwanda Today

After the war, Rwandan families relied on coffee farming to rebuild their lives and create opportunity. Last year alone, coffee was the primary export making up 65% of export income. The washed coffee production of Rwanda is estimated at 1200 tons for the 2005 harvest.

Today, women constitute the vast majority of the adult working population; they are central to economic development and reconstruction of the coffee farms. Furthermore, the important role of women in the economy and in reconstruction is augmented by their key role in agricultural production. Ninety-five percent of Rwanda is rural, agriculture is by far the largest economic sector, and women produce up to 70% of the country's total agricultural output. Consequently, women are the main agents of reconstruction in Rwanda today, and any consideration of Rwanda's future must take into account both the differential needs of women and their contributions to economic and social reconstruction.

Coffee produced from the farm "Gatare" ranges in altitude from 1,700 to 2,000 meters. The rich volcanic soils and average rainfall of 1,300 mm per year provide the perfect ingredients for producing a high quality coffee.
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Sumatra is one of several world-renowned coffee growing islands that comprise the Indonesian Islands. The others include Sulawesi (Celebes), Java and Papua New Guinea. The coffees grown in this region are known for their richness, full body, long finish and deeply toned, gentle acidity that add just a subtle note of whininess to the flavor profile. In particular, the island of Sumatra is known globally for its smooth, low-acidity, full-bodied Arabica coffee, which rivals the world's finest for flavor and for high prices. In fact, Sumatra Mandhelings and Lintongs are arguably the most full-bodied coffees in the world. As you drink it, you can actually feel the richness settle along the sides of your tongue.

The Dutch introduced coffee to the island in the late 1600's. From that time, until 1875, Sumatran coffee farmers grew only the highest quality Arabica beans. But in that year, Hemileia Vastatrix, a vicious plant disease that severly damaged the coffee trees, attacked the crop. Unfortunately, many of the farmers of the day chose to replace their trees with the inferior, but hardy, Robusta and Liberica bean varieties. Today, Arabica coffees are grown in the central part of North Sumatra. Unlike some of the other islands in Indonesia, the land is not yet "moe", or "coffee tired", enabling the country to maintain a consistent supply of its highest demand export.

The highest quality beans grown on the island are the distinctive Sumatra Mandheling, which thrive at 3,000 feet above sea level. Depending upon how much the beans are aged, the green beans are anywhere from yellow to a brown color. Also, Sumatran beans tend to be large, but due to the Sumatran sorting process, can vary somewhat in size. Despite this variance, the crops of Sumatra are wonderfully free of "quakers", blighted or underdeveloped beans that can destroy the coffee's quality in the cup. Finally, a unique processing system leaves the coffee beans in contact with their fruit meats for a longer period of time than that of coffees from other countries. These factors, combined with superior weather and soil conditions, as well as a thorough washing process, create the unique flavor of the Sumatran coffee.

The final result is a coffee that is distinctive and delicious, one that will seduce the drinker into lingering long over a steaming cup or eagerly accepting a second! It is perhaps clearer why Sumatran coffees compare to the famous red wine, Chateau Lafitte. Like the wine, the coffee possesses a deep, powerful body that at the same time has delicate and fragile flavor. Drinking each is a tremendous indulgence, one that can be tremendously satisfying and even somewhat seductive. When only the best will do, treat yourself!

Aged Brown Sumatra is a unique and rare coffee. During the last century when coffee was still brought into consuming countries by sailboats, the journey from the Far East to Europe took months. As a result, fresh coffees were stored in the hull of these vessels in very moist, humid and warm conditions. Aggravated by the constant salty air, the coffee aged unusually quickly. Even though this nostalgic era has long passed, the need for the special characteristic of aged coffees has been nutured in Europe and is being slowly introduced to the U.S. Specialty Market. The aging process takes down the acidity and brings out rich, syrupy nectar. It possesses the deepest, richest body you will ever find in a cup of coffee; finishing with a smooth, mellow spiciness.
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