Browse the toolbox below for coffee-related resources!
Coffee is an important cash crop in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. For many of the African coffee producing countries, coffee is the main export commodity, mainly produced by smallholder farmers.
The two common and commercially important varieties of coffee are Arabica and Robusta, with the former being native to Ethiopia. Arabica, unlike Robusta, has a refined flavor, contains less caffeine, is less yielding and has weak resistance to disease and poor climatic conditions. It grows well in sub-tropical and equatorial regions at altitudinal ranges of 550-1100 m, whereas Robusta generally grows at altitudes from 1100-2000 m above sea level.
Coffee cherries are processed following the dry or the wet method. Pulp, parchment and waste water (mucilage) are by-products from the wet method and husks from the dry method. Both methods generate huge amounts of by-products to the hosting environment (as a mulch and fuel) with no or only very little use.
However, there are proven biomass conversion technologies that could also be applicable to the coffee by-products. Bio-chemical (biogas), thermal (charcoal), mechanical (briquetting), and fermentation (ethanol) are some of the technologies. There are promising results both from previous and ongoing research activities on coffee by-products. The challenges to implement the technologies could be financial constraints, lack of trained expertise in the field, and lack of awareness about the available conversion technologies.
Christine B. Schmitt and Ulrike Grote. 2008. Wild coffee production in Ethiopia: the role of coffee certification for forest conservation. Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (17-18 / 11/ 2008). Berlin, Germany.
The Ethiopian rainforests are internationally renowned for their high biodiversity and their wild coffee (Coffea arabica) populations, but are severely threatened by deforestation. The remaining rainforests are used for wild coffee production. This study quantifies wild coffee yields from local management systems without artificial inputs, and analyses the impact of wild coffee management on the natural forest vegetation. Subsequently, the role of coffee certification for forest conservation is evaluated. The results show that wild coffee yields from undisturbed forest with low management intensity are extremely small. Intensive management in semi-forest coffee systems removes 30 % of the canopy trees and most undergrowth vegetation. This stimulates wild coffee growth and almost triples coffee yields, while jeopardizing forest biodiversity. Premium prices for wild coffee through certification are seen as one possibility to halt the deforestation process by adding economic value to the natural coffee forests. Particular certification criteria for wild coffee, however, do not exist yet. This study reviews currently present coffee certification schemes under, e.g., Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Rainforest Alliance and Utz Kapeh, and explores to what extent they can promote sustainable use and conservation of the Ethiopian coffee forests.
Christine B. Schmitt, Feyera Senbeta, Manfred Denich, Helmut Preisinger and Hans Juergen Boehmer. 2010. Wild coffee management and plant diversity in the montane rainforest of southwestern Ethiopia. African Journal of Ecology (48): 78–86.
Coffea arabica occurs naturally in the montane rainforests of Ethiopia, but large areas of these unique forests have been converted to other land-uses. In the remaining forest, wild coffee is managed and harvested with increasing intensity because of rising coffee prices in the world market. This study evaluated the impact of coffee management on wild coffee populations and the forest vegetation as a basis for conservation planning in southwestern Ethiopia. Vegetation surveys and yield assessments were carried out in unmanaged natural forest and in managed semi-forest coffee (SFC) systems. Analyses show that wild coffee density and coffee yields were low in natural forest (max. 15 kg / ha / year). In SFC systems, 30% of the canopy trees and most undergrowth vegetation were removed. This stimulated wild coffee growth and strongly enhanced yields (max. 54 kg / ha / year), but severely disturbed forest structure. Species richness increased by 26% because of an increase in species of ruderal and secondary vegetation; however, species richness and abundance of typical forest species declined. Conservation of the natural forest therefore requires the control of wild coffee management. Wild coffee certification is discussed as one tool to reconcile conservation measures and the interests of local farmers.