Coffee growing in the Far North of New Zealand...the early days
In 2002 we planted several coffee trees as ornamental plants in various places around our frost-free property. There was little information about the option of coffee-growing in the Far North of New Zealand and reports were mixed. For whilst red fruit did develop on outdoor grown bushes, they did not reliably set hard beans. Our own bushes started to fruit at 5 years of age, but we made a similar experience with beanset below expectancy. Nevertheless we decided to improve soil-condition by adding organic matter and the trace elements missing from the soil. We also decided on a regular organic leaf and ground fertigation-programm and began to document beanset. In the summer of 2011 we harvested nearly 1 kg (roasted coffee) of our most prolific tree, together with another 3 kg between our other trees. We hand-processed these beans and presented the outcome to our customers . The response was so encouraging, we decided to publish the potential for growing coffee in the Far North of New Zealand in the cafe magazine; issue 56.
The article about growing coffee in the Far North created interest and in spring 2012 then NZ champion barista Hide Kono contacted us with an enquiry of becoming personally involved with the project; subsequently joining us during the planting of our first 100 coffee seedlings. Despite being a very experimental project 2 more friends, Erik Peterson and Mark Chirmside participated in the planting of a further 250 coffee seedlings in October 2012, followed by yet another planting of 200 coffee seedlings in October 2013.