First, we’ll travel past large mass-market sun coffee plantations. Coffee here is cultivated in deforested areas, using a variety of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides to facilitate fast and pest-free growth.
So then, we’ll continue journeying farther into Nicaragua, high in the mountain rainforests. At approximately 5,700 ft above sea level, in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, we’ll arrive at a small Lifeboost coffee plantation.
This part of the rainforest is often referred to as the “lung of Central America” because of its crucial role in oxygen production.
Here, local coffee farmers cultivate coffee plants under the shade of guava trees. The shade of these trees provides a habitat for insects and native birds like the wood thrush. The insects that would do the coffee plants harm are kept at bay naturally here by wildlife within the habitat.
The heavy rains that occur here do not drown out these plants as high elevation works to the farmer’s benefit. At these elevations, plants receive appropriate hydration, and excess water naturally drains away from the plants and down the mountain.
This process of rainwater run-off prevents the growth of harmful molds on the coffee plants.
The guava tree leaves that fall amongst the coffee plants naturally provide protection from weed growth. And, these fallen leaves also allow the beans to absorb more nutrients as they decompose and become part of the soil composition.
An added benefit of coffee cultivation here is that the climate, cooler in the shaded areas at these altitudes, makes the plant mature much more slowly. This slower maturation process allows the beans to absorb more of the above mentioned nutrients from the soil, providing the consumer with a healthier, tastier product.
The ability to grow a diversity of crops provides the farmers with additional income. And, a greater wage is earned by these farmers for their fairly traded, nutrient-dense crop.