Saturday, March 12, 2011

Drinking coffee appears to offer protection against stroke, a major study of women concludes

Wow! A study of more than 34 women, age 49 - 83, showed that drinking coffee appears to offer protection against stroke. (see the USA Today article here: ).  These are amazing results for a study that ran for over 10 years. It is, in my oppinion very powerful data. 

We always hear a lot of opinion in terms of "how bad coffee is" to you but the findings add to the growing body of research showing coffee appears to a lot of yet unknown health benefits. The article mentions a study done by Larsson in 2008 on men who drank coffee or tea had similar results.  Apparently the large amount of antioxidants in coffee is the reason for these benefits.

The article also mentions that other research has suggested coffee can help prevent cognitive decline and can boost vision and heart health. It is also associated with a reduced risk of liver cancer.

They expand and discuss that the results of this study are consistent with findings on 83,076 women in the Nurses Health Study in the USA in 2009. In that study, women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 20% reduced risk of stroke, compared with women who had less than one cup per month. That study distinguished between caffeinated and decaf; the decaf group had a slightly lower risk.

Anyway, these scientific study results supports something that I have seen for many years.  I grew up in a coffee producing country (Puerto Rico) and I can say that most of the coffee region women appeared to be very healthy even in their 80's and 90's (and some of them in their 100's). They drank coffee couple of times a day every day.  I think that if you add these health benefits of coffee with the fact that shade-grown and organic coffee are much better for the environment, that combination would be a win-win! The best part of it is that now all of these observations are now be backed up by science! 


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some Facts About Coffee with Special Attention to Coffee Produced in the USA!

An awesome view at Hacienda Central Pellejas
in Adjuntas, PR

Yes, you may be surprised that coffee is actually produced within the United States! In fact, there are two places where coffee is produced in the USA. One is in the State of Hawaii and the other is a lot closer to the Continental USA, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (a US Territory).

Take a look at these interesting facts and if you know of any others please let me know!!!!

(1) Coffee is cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, but only in Puerto Rico and Hawaii in the United States;

These are the coffee plants
blooming under the shading
canopy of native tropical trees.

(2) Over 150,000 U.S. citizens in Hawaii and Puerto Rico depend on coffee production as their main source of income

(3) The farm revenue of coffee is estimated at $32 million for Hawaii and $42 million in Puerto Rico (parchment equivalent basis)

(4) Shade coffee plantations are a simplified but stable ecosystem that provides highly structured ecological and agricultural diversity;

The shading canopy of these tress provides
a lot of great environmental services.

(5) Shade coffee plantations are critical for the protection of fish and wildlife, including native, endemic, and migratory species, many of which are endangered and threatened.

(6) Shade coffee plantations are excellent buffer zones around natural reserves, providing a smooth transition between urban and natural areas and protecting the surrounding ecosystems;

(7) Shade coffee plantations played a critical role protecting biodiversity in Puerto Rico by providing wildlife habitat during a period when the landscape was severely deforested;

(8) Shade coffee plantations can produce many secondary crops in addition to coffee, increasing the natural biodiversity of a farm and provide an economic incentive by diversifying cash crops for sustainable farming;

(9) Sun-grown coffee plantations hold up to 90 percent fewer bird species than shade coffee plantations, require very high chemical input and year-round labor, lead to greater soil erosion and higher amounts of toxic runoff, seriously affecting aquatic ecosystems like coral reefs, sea turtle nesting beaches, and wetlands;

One of our proud coffee producers in Puerto Rico!
(10) Several voluntary private lands conservation incentive programs, such as the Department of Interior’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program and Environmental Quality Incentive Program have successfully developed a model for shade coffee restoration projects in Puerto Rico.

(11) It is necessary to promote the use of permanent shading trees in United States coffee plantations.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You can save between $1,324 and $2,135 a year drinking specialty coffee!

Well, we all know that the recession is hurting and we are doing all we can to cut on our expenses. Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot in trying to find ways to save my hard-earned money. I love freshly–roasted coffee and I don’t want to waste my money.

A few days ago I made some simple math calculations to analyze how I can cut cost on my coffee drinking habit without sacrificing the quality of my daily nectar of gods. For this simple analysis I’m using some of my previously published “coffee facts” blogs (see it at

The average American drinks 3 cups of coffee a day. The average coffee cup cost $1.50 for regular and $2.45 for espresso. Simply put, we spend between $1,642 and $2,682 a year in coffee drinks! We spend all this money not only because we love coffee but also because our productivity increases. We are more alert. We share coffee with friends. We socialize better. We become happier. You know, these are just some of the benefits I get from coffee. However, I can still cut these costs and get all of these benefits by simply buying freshly-roasted specialty coffee and brewing it myself home or at the office.

If I buy a pound (16 oz.) of medium to dark roast coffee I can brew up to 40 cups of this wonderful nectar. Taking the prices of some of the best Specialty coffees that fluctuates between $12 and 20 a pound, each cup of coffee (regardless if it is regular or espresso) you brew will cost just between $0.30 and $0.50. This translates into daily savings of between $3.60 and $5.85 a day or yearly savings of between $1,324 and $2,135 a year! (NOTE: If you drink at Starbucks or any of the other more expensive coffee shops you can multiply these costs and savings by at leas a factor of 2!)

As you can see enjoying a good cup of coffee doesn’t need to be a casualty of this recession. Just by buying fresh coffee ready to brew and brewing it yourself you’ll be saving a lot of money!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Restoring Tropical Environments, or Is That Coffee Shade-Grown?

I wrote this article back in 2001! It was published back in 2001 in the US Fish and Wildlife News ( (Page 16). We'll need to update the number of acres etc. but It's still very current.

I'm not in Puerto Rico anymore but the number of acres of shade coffee plantations restored are WAY MORE! Thanks to the hard work of all the hard-working coffee producers, Non-profit Organizations, and the government agencies involved (both local and federal). But most of the credit should go to Mrs. Silmarie Padron which has been in charge of these efforts for the last 6-7 years!

(This little bird is the "Puerto Rican Tody".
A species that can only be found in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.
This bird is very common in shade-grown coffee plantations.)

Here is the article:

Restoring Tropical Environments, or Is That Coffee Shade-Grown?

Is your coffee habit destroying tropical habitat? If you’re not drinking shade-grown coffee, then the answer is YES! Traditionally, coffee was cultivated under a shading canopy of native trees in tropical areas of the world. Modern coffee plantations are often monocultures grown in direct sunlight, creating conditions that cause increased stress on coffee plants. Their response to these conditions is to “reproduce before dying,” producing more coffee beans per plant, but only for five to seven years. The plants then rapidly drop their production of coffee beans, are increasingly vulnerable to insect and disease damage, and soon must be replaced. The remaining soils are nutrient poor and easily eroded. Within the U.S., coffee is commercially cultivated only in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Shade coffee plantations are a simple but stable agro-ecosystem that can be an important wildlife management tool. A shaded canopy provides most of the ecological functions of the natural environment, including soil conservation, nutrient recycling, habitat for native, endemic and migratory birds, and shelter for many plant and wildlife species. As an added bonus, recent studies have demonstrated that net yields and profits from shade coffee plantations are higher than modern cultivation methods. Of the approximately 90,000 acres of coffee grown in Puerto Rico, less than 40 percent is shaded by a canopy of native trees.

The Service’s Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program in the Caribbean is the only shade coffee restoration effort currently occurring within the U.S. Through this voluntary, private landowner-Service partnership, simple habitat restoration techniques were developed that allowed farmers to improve production, reduce the application of fertilizers and pesticides, and reduce labor costs. In addition, secondary crops, such as citrus fruit, bananas, plantains, coconuts, pineapples, cut flowers, and other products diversify the farmers’ products, making farming more sustainable way of life.

In its first four years, Partners for Fish and Wildlife has restored more than 1,000 acres through this innovative tropical habitat restoration partnership. Working with the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, Agricultural Extension Service, and Organization Envirosurvey, Inc., has led to great success. Even local schools got involved – working with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources, they provided more than 10,000 native legume trees. The primary benefit of the restoration was habitat enhancement for many Neotropical migratory birds, endemic birds, such as the Puerto Rican vireo, endangered Puerto Rican Sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus venator) and the Puerto Rican boa (Epicrates inornatus).

So next time you go in search of a Cup-AJoe, consider where those coffee beans came from and all the benefits of shade grown coffee—better yet, remember that the Service is making a difference by restoring tropical habitats. And make that next cup of coffee shade-grown!

For more information go to


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shade Grown Coffee and Coral Reefs

Well, A few years ago I gave a presentation on this topic. Today, a co-worker asked me about it. Not the presentation, but about the possible effects of runoff from coffee plantations in Hawaii and Puerto Rico on coral reefs.

I started to talk about all the issues related to clearing tropical forest and/or the shading canopy of coffee plantations. You know, run off, soil loss, chemical pollutants etc., using the example of both Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These are the only two places within the USA where coffee is produced! Anyway, a 30 minutes conversation could be summarized as follow:

You cut the tropical forest canopy in the hills, a lot of rain falls in a small tropical island (e.g., Puerto Rico, Hawaii), water start rushing down hill. A few hours later all that water carrying sediments and pollutants reaches the ocean and cover all the coral reefs and sea grass beds....

This is a newly created "sun" coffee plantation in Yauco, Puerto Rico. See the steep hill? Add these steep hill to over 90 inches of rain/year and you know what will happen to all that soil and sediment...

By the way, this particular area is less than 15 miles from one of the most productive coral reefs in Puerto Rico (La Parguera and the Guanica Forest area).

This is the actual run off from the heart of the coffee region of Puerto Rico at the mouth of the Rio Culebrinas (or "Culebrinas" River).

Do you see the connection?


Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Chesapeake Bay-Coffee Connection

You may wonder why I’m writing about coffee and the Chesapeake Bay when coffee is not even grown in the Chesapeake area. Well, I can tell you that there are many reasons. Some that you may know and others you may not. First of all, I love coffee, everything from growing it in my native Puerto Rico to roasting it here in the Chesapeake watershed. Although this is a very personal and important to me it is not why I want to talk to you about the relationship of coffee with the Chesapeake Bay.

I know that many of you are coffee lovers. We Americans consume over 2.5 billion lbs of coffee every year but, did you know that coffee beans, for the universally popular drink, are cultivated in more than 80 tropical countries around the World? And, with over $150 billion in annual retail sales and providing employment for more than 100 million people, coffee’s economic value is second only to petroleum. In addition, more than 124 million acres are currently cultivated with coffee in the most biologically-diverse tropical lands of the world.

There are two basic types of coffee plantations, namely shade-grown and sun-grown coffee. In shade-grown plantations, coffee plants grow under the shading canopy of larger trees. Most shading trees are native species commonly found in surrounding natural forests, providing important habitat for wildlife, protecting the delicate tropical soils and water resources. On the other hand, “sun coffee” plantations are a monoculture of coffee trees where, in order to increase production, the natural shading canopy of trees is eliminated exposing the coffee plants to full sun light. These plantations do not support native forest trees and wildlife species as traditional shaded coffee plantations do. In addition, since these monocultures can’t take advantage of the natural ecosystems they require higher inputs of fertilizers and pesticides affecting even more the delicate tropical ecosystems. The bottom line is that with shade coffee plantations you have nature working with you and with sun coffee you are working against Mother Nature.

Many of the birds that inhabit these shade grown coffee habitats are our own Chesapeake birds that migrate and winter in the tropics. Yes, many of our birds expend on average between 5 and 7 months every year, foraging and living in coffee plantations in South and Central America and the Caribbean. For example, the Black-throated Blue Warbler, Red-eye Vireo, Gray Catbird, and our beloved Baltimore Oriole, just to mention a few, all winter in tropical habitats including shaded coffee plantations. If these habitats are degraded or eliminated, our Chesapeake birds may stop singing.

We can help keep our birds singing by buying shade-grown coffee. Ask your local retailers to carry shade-grown coffees from the wintering habitats of our Chesapeake birds. Now look out of your window or go to your favorite birding spot and enjoy a fresh cup of shade-grown coffee. When you hear the birds singing at you they may be saying thank you!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Real Facts about Coffee: A guide to Coffee Lovers!

Here are some great facts about coffee:
  • The average cost of a cup of coffee in the U.S. fluctuates between $1.50 for regular coffee and $2.45 for espresso.
  • The average American drinks 3 cups of coffee a day.
  • A pound of ground coffee (16 oz.) produces ~ 40 cups of brewed coffee.
  • Every pound of coffee in US coffee shops generates approximately $90.00.
  • Most female coffee drinkers, drink coffee to relax.
  • Most male coffee drinkers, drink coffee to have more "energy."
  • More than half of all Americans drink coffee every day.
  • Over 31 Million American drink "specialty coffees" which means "fair trade" "shade grown" "bird friendly" "organic" or any combination of these!
  • The USA is the largest coffee consumer in the world.
  • Coffee is produced within the United States of America ONLY on Hawaii and in Puerto Rico (a Commonwealth of the US).
  • Approximately 8,000 acres of coffee are planted in Hawaii.
  • Approximately 80,000 acres are planted in Puerto Rico.
You can find great coffee in our store at Bonanza! Click Here

Do you know more coffee facts? Let us know and we will post them here!