Thursday, December 27, 2018

Where the Wild Coffee Grows

Where the Wild Coffee Grows: The Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to Your CupWhere the Wild Coffee Grows: The Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to Your Cup by Jeff Koehler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Kubbo aallegaata, Kafachoch kashoo aalle.”
~~Kafa Proverb: Without forests, no life for Kafa.

“Move up a degree [Celsius], you affect taste. Move up two degrees, you affect production. Three degrees, mortality: your plants are dead.”
~~Aaron Davis, Kew Gardens, to a Specialty Coffee Association of America symposium in Boston, 2013.

Jeff Koehler begins and ends his telling of the story of coffee in Kafa (or Kaffa), the kingdom that gave the world coffee and which is now a province of Ethiopia. The beginning chapters push the history of its use centuries earlier than I have read elsewhere, and offer a convincing case that coffee culture was established in the same area long before it reached Yemen on the Arabian (think Arabica) Peninsula. The ending chapters persuade the reader of the vital importance of Kafa’s remaining coffee forests.

Methodically building on the story of coffee’s origins, Koehler takes the reader on a botanical journey that spans continents and centuries. He demonstrates that the historical geography of coffee is essential to the future of a crop that is quite vulnerable to a changing climate.

Although I have been teaching and learning about the geography coffee for nearly two decades, I found compelling new lessons in every chapter of this well-researched text. I expect this quickly to become one of those books that students thank me for assigning.

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