HOW IS COFFEE GROWN? Usually, coffee tree seedlings are nurtured in a nusery for a year before planting. After 3 to 7 years of cultivating, maintaining and protecting the plants, the farmer will begin to harvest the bean and prepare it for sale.
The coffee bean is actually the pit of a cherry-like fruit of the coffee tree. Each cherry contains two beans surrounded by a protective pulp. The beans are actually the seeds of the tree. Farmers will hand pick the fruit and use a mechanical "depulper" to seperate the outer pulp from the beans. The beans are then fermented by soaking in water for 12 to 36 hours. After that, they are washed and laid out on terraces to dry for several days.
Now, the beans are called parchment or pergamino beans named after the parchment like layer that covers the pair of beans. The beans are stored in this form until traded. Storing raw coffee with its parchment skin retains its moisture and freshness and keeps the beans in optimal condition. Before exporting, they are milled to remove the parchment, leaving a greenish colored bean, known, not surprisingly, as green beans. This is the coffee we receive at Rappahannock Coffee for roasting.
ORGANIC COFFEE: Organic
means no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are used during
growing. Organic coffee has been around as long as coffee has been cultivated
because many of the poor farmers growing coffee can’t afford these materials.
BIRD FRIENDLY: Shade-grown coffee is grown under diversified shade cover--in and around the existing forest that is the natural habitat of hundreds of species of migratory song birds. These same birds, in turn, act as a natural defense against the bugs and pests that can ruin a coffee crop. Shade-grown coffee protects the great forests and the creatures that need the rain forests to survive...including people like us.
FAIR TRADE: Lets face it: coffee is big business and one of the most heavily traded commodities in the world. For the majority of small coffee farmers living in rural communities in some of the poorest countries in the world, the benefits are small. The trail of middlemen that leads from the farm to your coffee cup is long and expensive: processors, creditors, exporters, brokers - all known to Latin American farmers as “coyotes”. With world coffee prices constantly changing and “coyotes’ paying the lowest price possible, coffee farmers never know how much they’ll get for their crops. Isolated from markets, they struggle to make a simple living. The producers of a rich crop are often trapped in poverty. But there is an alternative. Using internationally recognized fair trade standards, Equal Exchange seeks to balance the inequities found in the conventional coffee trade. Coffee is a leading source of income for the Developing World. Through fair trade, it can be a delicious and powerful tool to bring about positive change for small farmers and their families.
...more to come