Nepal inspires a physical beauty and graceful wonder from mountaineers summiting Everest to trekking though the Himalayas, or seeking serenity in monasteries but, did you know Nepal grows amazing specialty coffee beans? The foothills of the Himalayas foster an extraordinary mix of altitude, soil, moisture, and climate. With annual production around 500 tons, this is a rare coffee
Agriculture remains the principle source of food, income and employment for the majority of people in Nepal. However, only 20% of the actual land is suitable for farming and what is being farmed is facing strains from with trees being cut down to make room for rice, corn, and millet. It is challenging work to begin with and only produces subsistence living for most.
As a cash crop, the specialty coffee industry has seen what growing coffee can mean economically for these rural villages, many of whom don't have many opportunities locally and leave to find work elsewhere. It has also allowed women, who traditionally tend to stay close to their homes to now have a source of income. Coffee has a high value and comparative low volume, which is important when considering the constraints of infrastructure.
Coffee grows best in altitude with a temperate climate and in shade which is why it grows so well in Nepal with it’s high altitudes and plentiful water from the Himalayas. Coffee also grows better in shade and so trees are planted which contributes to biodiversity and soil conservation. Practices also include using organic fertilizers and pesticides which can be produced on the farm. This is exciting news and coffee is now grown in 44 districts with annual production of about 500 metric tons.
Woo hoo! So what's the problem, shouldn’t everyone start growing coffee? There are still considerable constraints - access to knowledge, coffee plants, equipment, land and capital to start with. Coffee requires a considerable investment as it takes 3- 5 years before a coffee plant starts to produce cherries, the basis of the coffee that we drink. This is why our participation is vital to the growth of the coffee industry. There are a few early advocates, including our current source, Nuwa Estate Coffee, who work to bridge the gap, providing a nursery for plants, training, knowledge and access to processing and pulping mills. This helps to give surrounding farms a chance to participate as well.
How do we play a part? We work directly with the farms, cutting out as many "middlemen" as possible so there is transparency to where the money is going. We partner with farmers to help them gain access to markets who are looking for coffee that is unique, delightful, responsibly produced. In essence, you are an advocate for change while doing something as enjoyable as drinking a cup of coffee.