Monday, June 30, 2008

Coffee Arabica

What the best thing about coffee...the smell or the taste? I like the taste, but I looooove the fragrance that fills the house as it brews.

Jack and I are not big coffee drinkers, but we're coffee admirers. We enjoy coffee like we do wine...occasionally.

The other day, Jack returned home from a rash of errand-tending stops, and mentioned he had picked up another plant...on sale, of course...because it had looked so lonely and besides, you KNOW we can grow it here....

Heehee...we're pretty awful at sticking to any moratorium on collecting more useful plants.

It turns out he found a 4 1/2 foot coffee tree for $12, which is an unusually affordable price in our location here, especially for that size tree. By the time the end of the week came along, we'd bought the remaining 3 coffee trees they still had, still at the low sales price. I really hope we can make a go of these, because they are really healthy, good specimens...and one already had berries!

Our mango has gotten sunburned and stressed in the extreme temps, and about half of each leaf has turned brown. We brought it onto the lanai, out of the direct sun. That's where the 4 coffee trees now reside, because they're supposed to be shade-loving but are supposed to be hardy in our zone and in even hotter zones. I'm holding my breath that we can keep them healthy. They can't get below 68 degrees in the winter, supposedly, so we'll always need to keep them sheltered in the winter. I hope we know what we're doing!

Here's a pic of the first of the coffee arabica berries. Each berry, when ripe, should yield 2 coffee beans apiece.

Here you can see the one of the coffees snuggled up against the crispy brown (recovering) mango...

Jack's mother is from Cuba and once a year she used to go to a friend's country plot, where he raised fruits and vegetables...and had coffee trees. A single picking of a single coffee tree would net her a brown grocery sack full to the top with the ripe berries, which she would take home. This was during a time in which luxury items, such as coffee, were quite scarce there. It would take some days, or perhaps weeks, for her to process the coffee all the way to the roasting of the beans. Then she would divide up the precious commodity into small parcels and use it as barter power on the active (underground?) trading that went on privately, despite the communist restrictions. She kept aside enough for her family for one year, and still had enough left to barter.

The main breakfast of many Cubans at that stage was a cup of strong coffee with milk, and a piece of Cuban bread, a bread that came over with Cuba's predominantly European settlers early on straight from the French Baguette tradition, only Cuban bread is a bit wider all told. It's sold here regularly in the supermarket, and is quite addictive, as it's fresh-baked daily.
Jack and I are not usually daily coffee drinkers, but he has a preference for farmer-grown coffee roasted in oil in a big skillet and an open fire...he says he'll definately drink it if we can get it to that point. Well, let's see!

If we're fortunate to get even one of the treelings to the productivity point, we should garner enough beans to have a year's supply, and likely have some for friends to experiment with, too...or at least that's the hope! In that event, I'll be consulting my online friend, Christina, at CoffeeCoffeeCoffee, who I know is a confirmed coffee-a-holic! She has her own cottage business selling organic coffees, and I've posted her link on the sidebar in case other coffee lovers would like to venture her way for a cuppa joe.

If you've had any experience growing coffee trees yourself, I'd love any tips and advice you might have. I hope these trees can survive our learning curve :)


Brenda Kula said...

Sorry, I've never grown anything like this. But I would think sun... I don't know quite why. I guess I assumed they'd have row upon row of coffee trees lined up like corn or something out in the sun! Funny, our assumptions! Anyway, I'm 51 and didn't start drinking coffee daily till a few years ago. Now I have to have two cups a day!

TOCCO said...

Omy.... I would love to be able to have coffee trees! I am soooo jealous now. Wonderful post. I knew a few cubans in FL...they are serious about their coffee! Thanks for the participation in the contest!

Kelly said...

I am beside myself with jealousy.

Country Girl said...

I too love the aroma of coffee but I drink very little. That is great that you can grow that, I've yet to hear of a coffee trees in Maine.

Wendy said...

Wow! Lucky you! I tried growing tea here (Camellia Senesis), but it hasn't done well. I had two plants - one was put outside to overwinter, and it couldn't handle our cold. The other I had in the house all winter, and it isn't doing so well now that it's outside.

Oh, well.

I hope you have better luck with your coffee than I've had with my tea. I think it's very cool. You should try growing cacao, too. Chocolate and coffee! Yum!

The W.O.W. factor said...

Ok are trying to oust me out of my sustance in life! TOCCO's world! COFFEE! LOL!! Excellent post! The more I learn about Coffee...there more I love it!

Carolyn said...

Hey.... liking the new look of the Blog!

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

Interesting post and good luck with growing coffee! I'm not a coffee drinker actually, but I love the smell! :)

ilex said...

Wow, you're a brave one. Hmm. Is there a mini-plantation in your future? A coffee plantation peppered with peacocks, perhaps?

Twinville said...

I enjoy coffee, too. But it doesn't agree with my stomach, so one cup and I'm done.
So I'm a tea drinker instead.
I do love that coffe aroma, though! Wish they made a coffee candle that smelled the same as the real thing.

Best wishes on your new coffee plants. I can't wait to read how they produce for you.
Lucky you with mangos, too!