The case FOR USA-grown beans
California is outside the traditional coffee belt, but there's a sweet spot where the crop might be able to thrive.
“If you imagine a globe in your hand, the sun is shining straight at equator. In California, the sun is at a significant angle. That angle will make 250m above sea level the equivalent of 1500 meters. It's how we've adapted to grow avocados, which is a tropical mountain plant,” says organic-farming consultant Scott Murray of Murray Farms.
Despite the state's crippling drought, creative farming techniques might be the answer. Small trenches called micro-swales help make the most out of rainwater and can lessen a farmer's water needs by 50%. High density planting, where coffee bushes are grown under younger avocado trees, creates a rain-forest effect that allows for the growth of three times the crops in the same amount of space, using nearly half the water.
More importantly, domestic farms give consumers any easier opportunity to see coffee growing first-hand, increasing their appreciation for the drink and also bringing in some welcome tourism dollars. Farm-to-table might be an overused phrase, but it's still a concept people rally behind.