You drink it everyday. It’s black. It smells good.
It tastes good too.
A lot of people drink it just like you. They order a “cup of coffee” and drink it quickly before work, or during a break.
Among the millions of people drinking this black fluid, only a few know about the wonderful life of the coffee trees. It’s a story about growing up in luxurious highlands or the slums of the lowlands. It’s the story of finding a good place for a good life.
It is the story of the coffee tree.
Coffee is appreciated by millions of drinkers everyday around the world. Around 25 million farmers grow coffee in 60 tropical countries. Coffee plantation covers about 11 million ha around the world including both arabica and robusta coffee.
Vietnam is the second producers in the world with 700 000 ha of coffee. Vietnam mostly produced robusta coffee which is often processed into food products or medicines. Only 50 000 ha of the coffee area in Vietnam are dedicated to the cultivation of arabica. …
Trading coffee is not an easy job. In a recent trip to Vietnam, I had the chance to meet a coffee trader and visit his wet mill.
First of all, let’s remember that there are two coffee species traded around the world; coffee arabica which is 60% of the traded coffee, and coffee robusta for the other 40%. Coffee arabica is mostly used for drinks while robusta even though it can be drunk as a low-quality coffee, it is more often transformed into medicines and food products.
Stocks of coffee arabica are traded at the New York stock exchange while for robusta it is traded at the London stock exchange. These platforms are used to exchange coffee futures, which are stocks used by traders to limit their exposure to coffee supply changes and price volatility. Every time, my trader friend buys real coffee from farmers, he sells a coffee future; and every time he sells coffee, he buys a coffee future. Traders make money from the price difference between the value of coffee futures and the price of real coffee. …
Imagine that you are struggling to find water during the dry season, from October to April. Imagine that every year, the dry season is longer and drier because of climate change. Now, imagine that you cannot move to get water because you are a coffee plant.
A coffee tree does not have many options to get water. It can grow longer roots or lose its leaves to collect or save water. The plant can also regulate its water loss by adjusting the opening of its stomata which are very small holes on its leaves invisible to the naked eye.
In these ways, a coffee tree could have survived a drought 200 years ago; however, there is another, more recent, problem: climate change. The large amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane which were released into the atmosphere in the last 200 years have disturbed our climate. The average temperature around the world is higher, this is global warming. …
A drought is a natural event in certain regions of the world where it is the consequence of the cycles of Earth around the sun.
Earth has an ellipsoidal rotation around the sun. An ellipsoid is not a perfect circle but rather an ellipse, shaped like an egg. Turning around the sun in an ellipsoid fashion, Earth does not receive the same amount of sunlight and energy depending on its position and time of the year. In its revolution around the sun, the Earth does not stand straight but it slightly leans on one side in a 23.5 degrees angle from vertical. …
For millennia, humans believed that the Earth was flat.
The Egyptians thought the Earth was a disc floating in an endless ocean, covered by a solid dome of sky. Ancient Chinese believed that the Earth was a large square under a circular heaven. Norse myths assumed a flat planet linked to other realms by Yggdrasil, the world tree.
Then, around the 8th century CE, the idea of a spherical Earth began to propagate among scholars. 9th century Greeks tried to measure its circumference. Writers of 10th century texts, including Thomas Aquinas, often assumed the concept of a globe.
Today, it feels like a fact of reality. Grass is green, the sky is blue, and the Earth is round. …
I don’t remember when I died. I don’t have memories of my time alive neither.
If I focus on a far away past and strongly knit my brows, images reminisce, and familiar echoes flow back in my ears. The end. Nothing more. My blurry eyes stay blurry.
To a certain extent I still live but it is not a normal life. I wake up early in the morning at the first beams of light creeping through the window. When I say I wake up, it only means that I open my eyes. I cannot sleep since I died. I usually lie down late at night and close my eyes waiting for the sun to tell me that I can open them, stand up, and walk again. I am like a plant. …
In the world, there are unattractive places and there are majestic places.
Vietnam has many unattractive places, especially in big cities. Dirty and flooded streets, noisy and wild motorbikes, hot and wet weather… But if you can bear all of those, the country will give you a lot of contentment.
As I said at the beginning, majestic places exist as well. In the north of Vietnam, not far from the capital, Hanoi, wanderers can visit the province of Ninh Binh.
A good friend of mine invited to her place to visit this wonderful place.
I don’t work a 9–5 job. I don’t take the bus or metro either. I live a rather peaceful life outdoors, motionless. I drink the water and minerals from the ground and open my little mouths to eat the sun and carbon dioxide. Easy life, right?
Well, not exactly.
During the day, like all trees, I meet challenges as my environment changes following the course of the sun. I am very sensitive to changes in sunlight, air humidity and temperature.
Coffee trees like me need three elements to thrive. …