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Coffee in the New World

Coffee was first introduced to the Colonies of Dutch Guiana, Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo, 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. Colombia’s famous coffee industry was started with seeds carried there by a traveler from Pomeroon, a River located in Essequibo.

Coffee grown by Dutch Settlers was of the Caffea Arabica variety, and cultivar Typica. At the turn of the 19th Century, the Colonies of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo were incorporated into British Guiana and later after independence from the British, the Country of Guyana. So, Guyana has a history of producing coffee having been, along with Dutch Guiana, later renamed Suriname, the first Countries in the New World to do so.

Coffee in Guyana

Travel back to the early 19th Century, where British Guiana was associated with fine coffee. Then, it 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. British Guiana was one of the largest coffee Exporters in the World.

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

Coffee grown along the riverbanks of the Pomeroon is no longer Caffea Arabica, cultivar Typica. By the start of the 20th Century, Arabica was under treat worldwide from the Leaf Rust Disease. Farmers needed a solution and they turned to a variety out of West Africa, Caffea Liberica, which variety was resistant to the disease. By 1924, British Guiana was evaluating the varieties Arabica and Liberica. Apparently, the variety that was deemed preferential from that assessment was Caffea Liberica, and this then cultivated throughout the Pomeroon. The Pomeroon variety was later confirmed by scientists at the US Department of Agriculture and World Coffee Research through DNA testing.

Liberica is the rarest variety in the World occupying less than 1% of its supply. This is largely due to low yields resulting in high production costs which has no commercial interest with those engaged in mass production of coffee. But, Dr. Steffen Schwartz in an appeal for the renaissance of Liberica described it as “the sweetest and most aromatic coffee in the World” Liberica is a specialty coffee for those who appreciate the fine things in life.

And Amy’s Pomeroon Foods Inc. (APFI) takes this exotic coffee to the next level of premium quality. It uses the costliest “wet” process for cherries bought from local Farmers. All experts opine that the process produces the best tasting coffee. The wet process is a 5-step one requiring that the cherries are washed (removing defective cherries), pulped (removing the thick exocarp and mesocarp), fermented (removing mucilage covering the parchment), dried, and finally hulled (removing the endocarp or shell). It is costly, but necessary for great taste and aroma.

APFI then roasts these green beans to the required profile in a computer-controlled roaster, grinds and packages 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.

Pomeroon coffee, as produced by APFI, is the sweetest, most aromatic and finest coffee available and deserving of the Company’s motto, “When Fineness is You”.