Compare with the price of bananas! Coffee Rack at Chico Natural Foods
? ? ? Coffee Rack at Chico NaturalFoods
Soconusco Early coffee fincas were established in the highlands of Central America’s Soconusco coast. This region’s colonial exports were two natural dye products, cochineal and indigo.
Cochineal The white secretions are insect nests which provide the red dye. Buckingham Palace Guards’ coats were dyed with cochineal until the 20th century.
Indigofera suffruticosa Anil de pasto Indigo Demand for cochineal and indigo collapsed in the late 1850s when Europeans developed the processes for producing synthetic dyes. “Mauve” http://www.illustratedgarden.org/mobot/rarebooks/
This slide demonstrates why coffee initially was valued as an ornamental. Jesuits introduced into Central America as a fragrant plant for their courtyards. Not as a potential agricultural export.
Some Central American countries are developing specialized coffee growing regions which have distinctive tastes, similar to wine appelations n France and California.
Germans were vital to the establishment of the commercial coffee economy. Here’s one of the early pioneers, Adolfo Boppel.
Some coffee growers have diversified production to include ornamental plants which they grow in the coffee region and at higher elevations. They deforest portions of hillsides and drape them with shade cloth. Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
Coffee process. Seed saved from harvest (November-February). Yep. The harvest is during verano. Why is labor for the coffee harvest not a problem? Finca "Las Nubes", San Francisco Zapotitlán, Suchitepéquez, Guatemala Seed
Seedlings El Soldadito
Seed bed: Fertilized with coffee pulp
Fruit ~8 months later Similar to sugar cane plantations, almost all steps of processing take place on the finca.
Patio drying. In Nicaragua, growers have begun to use tarps as drying platforms rather than concrete patios.
Solar drying. This grower thinks that a demand for solar dried coffee is growing. This will be yet another specialty that might increase the value of his coffee.
Marketing Special quality
Large fincas are similar to plantations in that they house a large portion of their workers. The population of this finca town surges during the harvest when migrant laborers arrive to harvest. Many of the migrants are indigenous residents of the highlands. The harvest occurs during verano, the slowest months in the agricultural cycle.
This finca-town has relatively pleasant worker housing. The owner received a favorable “workplace conditions” award from Starbucks for his efforts.
Finca-town store. They sell cheap instant coffee, not the coffee produced on the finca.