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COFFEE

scandalous reports, to the defamation of His Majesty’s government, and to the disturbance of the peace and quiet of the nation.”

Up to the close of the 17th century the world’s entire, although limited, supply of coffee was obtained from the province of Yemen in south Arabia, where the true celebrated Mocha or Mokka coffee is still produced. At this time, however, plants were successfully introduced from Arabia to Java, where the cultivation was immediately taken up. The government of Java distributed plants to various places, including the botanic garden of Amsterdam. The Portuguese introduced coffee into Ceylon. From Amsterdam the Dutch sent the plant to Surinam in 1718, and in the same year Jamaica received it through the governor Sir Nicholas Lawes. Within a few years coffee reached the other West Indian islands, and spread generally through the tropics of the New World, which now produce by far the greater portion of the world’s supply.

Cultivation and Preparation for Market.—Coffee plants are grown from seeds, which, as in the case of other crops, should be obtained from selected trees of desirable characteristics. The seeds may be sown “at stake,” i.e. in the actual positions the mature plants are to occupy, or raised in a nursery and afterwards transplanted. The choice of methods is usually determined by various local considerations. Nurseries are desirable where there is risk of drought killing seedlings in the open. Whilst young the plants usually require to be shaded, and this may be done by growing castor oil plants, cassava (Manihot), maize or Indian corn, bananas, or various other useful crops between the coffee, until the latter develop and occupy the ground. Sometimes, but by no means always, permanent shading is afforded by special shade trees, such as species of the coral tree (Erythrina) and other leguminous trees. Opinions as to the necessity of shade trees varies in different countries; e.g. in Brazil and at high elevations in Jamaica they are not employed, whereas in Porto Rico many look on them as absolutely essential. It is probable that in many cases where shade trees are of advantage their beneficial action may be indirect, in affording protection from wind, drought or soil erosion, and, when leguminous plants are employed, in enriching the soil in nitrogen. The plants begin to come into bearing in their second or third year, but on the average the fifth is the first year of considerable yield. There may be two, three, or even more “flushes” of blossom in one year, and flowers and fruits in all stages may thus be seen on one plant. The fruits are fully ripe about seven months after the flowers open; the ripe fruits are fleshy, and of a deep red colour, whence the name of “cherry.” When mature the fruits are picked by hand, or allowed to fall of their own accord or by shaking the plant. The subsequent preparation may be according to (1) the dry or (2) the wet method.

In the dry method the cherries are spread in a thin layer, often on a stone drying floor, or barbecue, and exposed to the sun. Protection is necessary against heavy dew or rain. The dried cherries can be stored for any length of time, and later the dried pulp and the parchment are removed, setting free the two beans contained in each cherry. This primitive and simple method is employed in Arabia, in Brazil and other countries. In Brazil it is giving place to the more modern method described below.

In the wet, or as it is sometimes called, West Indian method, the cherries are put in a tank of water. On large estates galvanized spouting is often employed to convey the beans by the help of running water from the fields to the tank. The mature cherries sink, and are drawn off from the tank through pipes to the pulping machines. Here they are subjected to the action of a roughened cylinder revolving closely against a curved iron plate. The fleshy portion is reduced to a pulp, and the mixture of pulp and liberated seeds (each still enclosed in its parchment) is carried away to a second tank of water and stirred. The light pulp is removed by a stream of water and the seeds allowed to settle. Slight fermentation and subsequent washings, accompanied by trampling with bare feet and stirring by rakes or special machinery, result in the parchment coverings being left quite clean. The beans are now dried on barbecues, in trays, &c., or by artificial heat if climatic conditions render this necessary. Recent experiments in Porto Rico tend to show that if the weather is unfavourable during the crop period the pulped coffee can be allowed to remain moist and even to malt or sprout without injury to the final value of the product when dried later. The product is now in the state known as parchment coffee, and may be exported. Before use, however, the parchment must be removed. This may be done on the estate, at the port of shipment, or in the country where imported. The coffee is thoroughly dried, the parchment broken by a roller, and removed by winnowing. Further rubbing and winnowing removes the silver skin, and the beans are left in the condition of ordinary unroasted coffee. Grading into large, medium and small beans, to secure the uniformity desirable in roasting, is effected by the use of a cylindrical or other pattern sieve, along which the beans are made to travel, encountering first small, then medium, and finally large apertures or meshes. Damaged beans and foreign matter are removed by hand picking. An average yield of cleaned coffee is from 1½ to 2 ℔ per tree, but much greater crops are obtained on new rich lands, and under special conditions.

Production.—The centre of production has shifted greatly since coffee first came into use in Europe. Arabia formerly supplied the world; later the West Indies and then Java took the lead, to be supplanted in turn by Brazil, which now produces about three-quarters of the world’s supply and controls the market.

Brazil.—Coffee planting is the chief industry of Brazil, and coffee the principal export. The states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Geraes and Santos, contain the chief coffee-producing lands. The annual output ranges from about 10,000,000 to 16,000,000 bags (of 120 ℔ each), whilst the world’s annual consumption is more or less stationary at about 16,000,000 bags. The overwhelming importance of the Brazilian output is thus evident. Recently efforts have been made to restrict production to maintain prices, and the Coffee Convention scheme came into force in São Paulo on December 1, 1906, and in Rio de Janeiro and Minas Geraes on January 1, 1907. The cultivation in general is very primitive in character, periodical weeding being almost all the attention the plants receive. Manuring is commonly confined to mulches of the cut weeds and addition of the coffee husks. New lands in São Paulo yield from 80 cwt. to 100 cwt. of cleaned coffee per 1000 trees (700 go to the acre); the average yield, however, is not more than 15 cwt. The plants are at their best when from 10 to 15 years old, but continue yielding for 30 years or even more.

Other South American Countries.—Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and to a much less degree Bolivia and Paraguay, produce coffee, the annual crops of the two former countries being each of about £1,500,000 in value.

Central America.—Guatemala produces the most in this region; the coffee estates are mainly controlled by Germans, who have brought them to a high pitch of perfection. The crop ranges in value from about £1,000,000 to £1,500,000 per annum. Costa Rica and San Salvador produce about half this amount. In Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama, coffee is extensively cultivated, and all export the product.

West Indies.—Coffee is grown in most of the islands, often only for local use. Haiti produces the largest amount, the annual value of the crop being about £500,000. Porto Rico formerly had a flourishing industry, but it has declined owing to various causes. The interior is still expected to be devoted largely to coffee, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has carried out experiments to improve methods and ensure the cultivation of better varieties. Jamaica produces the famous Blue Mountain Coffee, which compares favourably with the best coffees of the world, and also ordinary or “plain grown”; the Blue Mountain is cultivated at elevations of from 3000 to 4500 ft. Coffee usually ranks third or fourth in value amongst the exports of the island.

Africa, the native country of the coffees, does not now contribute any important amount to the world’s output. In Liberia, the Gold Coast and elsewhere on the West Coast are many plantations, but the low prices ruling of recent years have caused coffee to be neglected for more remunerative crops. Coffee is, however, still the principal export of Nyasaland (British Central Africa), where it was introduced as recently as 1894. The area under coffee has been greatly reduced, owing partly to more attention being paid to cotton, partly to droughts and other causes. In Somaliland and Abyssinia coffee cultivation is of very ancient date. Two kinds are exported, Harrari and Habashi. The former compares favourably with Mocha coffee. The industry could be very considerably extended. In Natal, Rhodesia, &c., coffee is grown, but not in sufficient quantity to supply the local demand.

Arabia.—The name “Mocha” is applied generally to coffee produced in Arabia. Turkey and Egypt obtain the best grades. Traders from these countries go to Arabia, buy the crops on the trees, and supervise its picking and preparation themselves. The coffee is prepared by the “dry method.”