Coffee in the New World

Coffee was first introduced to the Pomeroon Region, then named Nova Zeelandia, by Dutch Settlers in the early 18th Century. The coffee plants, originally from Yemen, were brought to the Coast of South America from the famous Hortus Botanicus Nursery in Amsterdam, via Java, Indonesia, and eventually distributed throughout South America. Actually, Colombia’s famous coffee industry was started with seeds carried there by a traveler from Pomeroon.

Coffee grown by Dutch Settlers was of the Caffea Arabica cultivar named Typica. Arabica coffee and its cultivars are preferred over other varieties because of their enhanced aromas and taste and occupies 70% of the world market. Pomeroon coffee’s introduction in 1721, makes it the oldest in the New World.

Coffee in Guyana

When one thinks of fine coffee, the Countries of Brazil, Columbia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and other Central American Countries among others, come to mind. For such coffee of the Caffea Arabica variety, the fineness comes from its aroma and taste.

However, if we were to time-travel back to the early 19th Century, the Country British Guiana would have been associated with fine coffee. Then, British Guiana was one of the largest exporters of coffee in the world. For example, in 1810, British Guiana exported over 22 million pounds of coffee. By comparison, Brazil in 1800 exported only 1,720 pounds and even twenty years later in 1820, its coffee exports at 12.9 million pounds could not match the peak level of British Guiana’s coffee exports.

So what happened to Guyana’s coffee industry? Due to low yields from planting this cultivar on low-elevation plains (it better adapts to higher elevations as the mountain sides of Ethiopia, where it was discovered), high labor costs in British Guiana and low coffee world prices, coffee estates switched to sugar cultivation, a much more rewarding crop for the Planters. Coffee production was relegated to the Pomeroon River where sugar was never an option given the small-sized Grants there. Almost three centuries after it was introduced to the Country, Pomeroon remains the only bastion of coffee production in Guyana. In 2008, the last year surveys were done, the production of coffee cherries in the Pomeroon stood at 590 metric tons.

Pomeroon Coffee

But unlike coffee giants Brazil and Colombia, which have over the years experimented with mutations of the original varieties brough here (Bourbon and Typica) for purposes of limiting susceptibility to plant diseases, Pomeroon has stayed true to Typica.

In so doing, Pomeroon coffee is closer to the original Arabica variety from Yemen. The end result is a product that is the purest in Guyana, roasted with advanced profiling technology and ground to international aggregation specifications.

As is expected with any plant, growing in a different environment to what it’s accustomed, it adapts to its new environment. Pomeroon coffee no longer resembles Typica. It produces a much larger cherry and bean than it originated with, similar to what happened to Typica in Maragogipe, Brazil. There, Typica naturally evolved into a large bean and scientists determined that these changes were significant enough to form a new cultivar, “Maragogipe”.

Pomeroon cultivar had a similar evolution. In May 2017, a genotyping (DNA) test was done on coffee green beans from Pomeroon by the FDA Lab in Maryland, USA by scientist Dr. Dapeng Zhang. APFI is now working with Dr. Zhang and a Lab in Costa Rica, where DNA profiles of coffee are stored, to identify the evolved cultivar. Although Pomeroon coffee beans have similar characteristics to that of Maragogipe, it is hope that the cultivar is distinct enough to be branded as a new cultivar named “Pomeroon”.
How is APC processed? The least costly is the “dry” method used by many countries of drying the cherries and hulling (removing the dried covering shell consisting the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp). This method compromises superior taste for lower costs. Since APC is a premium coffee, it uses the “wet” method comprising washing (removing defective cherries), pulping (removing the thick exocarp and mesocarp), fermenting (removing mucilage covering the parchment), drying, and finally hulling (removing the endocarp or shell). It is costly but is necessary for great taste and aroma.

The resulting green beans from the wet process is then roasted to the required profile in a computer controlled roaster, ground and packaged in three-layered (PET/PE/AL) air-tight sachets with one-way air valves and with tin-ties for proper storage after opening. Coffee has an indefinite life when stored in an airtight environment.