Sunday, January 19, 2014

Picking and Pondering, The Life of the Coffee Bean

I’m trying not to scratch the mosquito bite on my forehead that is slowly puffing out into a unicorn bump. I’m also hoping that it is, in fact, a mosquito bite and that in my excitement to pick coffee this morning I hadn’t crashed straight into a banana spider (which is apparently 33% poisonous, when it decides to pick on you.)

Hopes and dreams tied up in just a few berries!
And though my head is slowly doming and I’m feeling a little self-conscious, I am proud that I have successfully completed two mornings of coffee picking without feeling squeamish. It’s not a clean job. You have to get up in the coffee bush’s business, peeling back the leaves to find the ruby red gems. The leaves are threaded with spider webs and peppered with colorful insects that like to relax in the shade, like the florescent blue “lady bugs” or the bright green caterpillars the size of your thumb knuckle. The coffee can’t be bagged if it has any nub of green stem on it, so fingernails are used to clip them off before banking the berries. The bushes sit under the shade of pines and banana trees, and it seems counterintuitive for needles to mix with plantations, but American coffee culture touts the superiority of “shade grown coffee,” and pine forests cover quite well.

We’re more than halfway through the coffee season up here and I love walking up the hill though the rows of plants. The ones that have been picked bare remind me of all the hours the students spend earning their education (It’s not a cool and exotic job to them like it is to me: it’s a necessity.) The white, green, yellow and red buds that have yet to be bagged remind me of meditation potential, hours I can spend getting down and dirty with nature while thinking my thoughts. I love pulling back leaves and finding one perfect red bean hiding from the world.

The idea is that eventually the hundreds of coffee plants will support the school completely – food, supplies, pay the internet bill, and any other little things that might come up. It’s amazing to think that at the moment, that’s all we really need money for anyway. But the plantation has been affected with some kind of coffee mold that turns the berries black and makes all the leaves drop off. Everyone has a different opinion as to whether those plants will have to come out completely, but it does make me sad to see all the wasted effort and revenue those moldy coffee beans hold.

I’ve been studying Buddhism and the coffee beans help me understand gracious impermanence much better. 

1 comment:

  1. CPK… made a pot of TLC coffee last weekend - yummmm. Hoping that the plants survive, that your noggin heals and that your tales continue to be posted. Te amo.