02 September 2008

The Soil
Hot lava which emited from volcanoes is from the center of the earth is rich of nutrients that have been formed over the centuries that have recently been brought to the surface of the earth’s crust. The nutrient deterioration is limited having not been exposed to sun and air. The lava is cooled and mixed with ash as it settles. The result is a rich soil that is the fertile host to some of the most famous tropical rain forests.

The gourmet coffee plants are nurtured during its growth by this volcanic soil as it matures. The tropical rainforest that surround many of these coffee farms are home to many birds that feed on pests that damage the coffee plants. This natural selection is a benefit to the farmer as they do not need to rely of pesticides. In addition to the cost saving to the coffee farmer their coffee can then qualify as organic grade which they can then sell at a higher price.

High Altitude Factors
At higher elevations many different factors come together to growing the best gourmet coffee. Late afternoon cloud cover protects the coffee plants from an excessive amount of direct sunlight. The clouds contain moisture that gently waters the coffee plants through its leaves rather than through its roots.

The best gourmet coffees are mostly rated with a SHB (Strictly Hard Bean) rating. The coffee bean grown at higher altitudes is much harder than those grown at lower elevations. This distinction places the coffee bean in the category of the best gourmet coffee rating on world coffee markets.

The downside of growing this coffee at higher elevations is the difficulty in farming process. Farms at this level are near the peaks of mountain formations which is very steep.At times the terrain is almost at a 45 degree angle making it very difficult to plant, cultivate, inspect and pick the coffee beans from side of a mountain. More manual labor is required not only for cultivation but also for transporting the baskets heavy with the best coffee beans.
The remoteness of these locations also make it a long and difficult to transport them to the ports of distribution to world markets. The roads are often rough and rocky winding up and down mountain sides and usually beside a dangerous cliff.

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