“The essence of beauty is unity in variety.” – Felix Mendelssohn, German composer (1809 – 1847)
Many coffee farmers do not only grow coffee plants on their plantations. Instead, they cultivate the coffee plants in the in the shade of taller trees together with various types of fruits and vegetables such as bananas or corn. In doing so, farmers not only gain additional income from the fruits and vegetables, but they also promote a sustainable coffee production and therefore impact on the environment in a positive way. For example, taller trees not only provide shade for coffee plants, but they also stabilize the soil and attract birds. A rich fauna attracts pollinators and supports a healthy soil.
Resistant coffee plants grow in a diverse and healthy environment. Healthy coffee plantations do not need fertilizers and pesticides.
During our last trip to Thailand, in December 2017, we had the pleasure to visit small sustainable specialty coffee and Assam tea plantations in the region of Mae Kampong, which is located between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. In this area locals generate their income not only from high quality coffee beans, but also from the cultivation of Assam tea, mainly for the local market.
One farmer surprised us with a memorable experience: Surrounded by nature – and with a big smile on his face – he prepared fresh Assam tea for us :
He put tea leaves on a wooden stick, made a small-fireplace and started to roast the tea leaves. Then he cut a Bamboo tree, collected the water from the inside of tree and boiled it. He made small cups from the bamboo tree and filled them with the hot water and smoked tea leaves. And the tea was ready. The whole process took the farmer approximately 20 minutes.