Coffee Summit draws crowd, piques interest

By Swapna Vettiyil

Cal Poly Pomona held its first California Coffee Summit to inform famers and students about the increasing potential for growing coffee in California.

As interest for expanding coffee growing in California increased, it was the perfect time to host the first summit to intensively educate farmers about this flourishing market.

“This is the first coffee trade show Cal Poly Pomona has ever had,” said fourth-year agriculture science and plant science student Laura Gonzales.

“It was very interesting to hear what the professionals had to say. There are a lot of job opportunities in coffee production, sales and marketing. It was interesting to learn how big of an impact coffee production has on the world. Since California does not have a big coffee production the way South America does, it is great to hear from these professionals about opportunities that can come to California.”

Historically, coffee has grown in more tropical areas around the world that are closer to the equator. Coffee has never been grown in California or other parts of the mainland U.S.

“Several years ago, a few people began experimenting with coffee growth in California,” said Craig Walters, Director of AGRIscapes.

“One grower in particular from Santa Barbara, Jay Ruskey, began planting a larger amount of trees. Ruskey was getting a really good crop and high-quality coffee was being grown.”

California is the largest producer of avocados in the United States.

Areas like Ventura County and San Diego County are filled with avocado farms.

“There is some similarity in the types of soil and climate which avocado and coffee trees both like,” said Walters.

“They both like soils that are drained. They do not like being the only wet and soggy ground. They both are not compatible with extreme temperatures that are too hot or cold. When describing ideal coffee you hear phrases used such as mountain grown, shade grown and rainforest coffee. Coffee does not like to be exposed to the full sun all day long. In places such as South America they put coffee trees underneath other trees resulting in partial sun all day long.

Farmers are finding that planting coffee trees under avocados works well.

Many of the attendees of the California coffee summit were avocado farmers hoping to boost their income and have a new product.

“This event drew me in because there is a growing coffee market within California and if we can produce specialty coffee here we can fulfill a growing niche of coffee consumption in the United States,” said fourth-year plant and soil science student Bryce Stevenson.

Some of the notable speakers include individuals from Frinj Coffee Inc., Murray Farm Inc. and University of Hawaii.

There are a lot of similarities between coffee production in Kona, Hawaii and California.

Both will be very expensive specialty coffee.

Individuals from the University of Hawaii will also talk about the diseases and pests California farmers will need to be aware of which affect coffee.

Since coffee is such a new crop here, a lot of the typical diseases and pests that affect coffee in other parts of the world are not existent here, as they have not had a host.

“Cal Poly Pomona’s college of agriculture has been involved in a coffee cultivar for the past year,” said Walters.

“They have an area where they planted a couple hundred different varieties of coffee. The conditions in California are not perfect for coffee. We are doing a field trial where we planted these trees and are doing research and measurements to see which varieties are best suited for our climate. Some students are doing their master’s thesis and others are doing their undergraduate senior project on this topic.”

There was a set limit of 60 attendees and the event sold out a week prior.

The success of the first coffee summit leaves CPP Agriculture hopeful to hold more events like this in the future.

The event was attended by industry hopefuls, farmers and students studying plant and soil sciences

Swapna Vettiyil / The Poly Post

The event was attended by industry hopefuls, farmers and students studying plant and soil sciences

The event was attended by industry hopefuls, farmers and students studying plant and soil sciences

Swapna Vettiyil / The Poly Post

The event was attended by industry hopefuls, farmers and students studying plant and soil sciences

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

College of Engineering hosts lecture series

By Guadalupe Pinedo The College of Engineering has been committed to providing students with ...

Red Folder an opportunity to help students

By Daniel Flores The Red Folder, an informational guide given to faculty and staff ...

Faculty and staff attend diversity workshop

By Jessica Wang Cal Poly Pomona faculty gathered for a talk by a prominent ...