Saturday, July 14, 2012

This coffee tastes like @^#* !

Our daughter went to China in February of 2002 to be ( at the age of 22) a college level English teacher, and I switched to the same occupation in December of 2003.

Roughly halfway through the time of Kelly’s arrival and mine, the SARS epidemic hit southern China, which eventually resulted in the deaths of 916 people worldwide.

Ultimately, the cause of the virus was traced to the human consumption of palm civets, one of the many varieties of animals the people in southern China called “wild flavor”.

Palm civets are also known as civet cats, and they popped up again in the news recently, but for a very different reason. As it turns out, the civet cat can be a major factor in reducing the world’s level of greenhouse gasses.

Until very recently, the world’s most expensive coffee was Kopi Luwak, and it can cost as much as $600 per pound in some countries. You can read about THE most expensive coffee at the link below:

if you pay $50 for a cup of coffee, does that make you a Dumbo?

In the shade-grown coffee trees of Indonesia's rainforest, a wild civet cat (also called the luwak) is said to use its long fox-like nose to sniff out only the best-tasting red berries. Coffee connoisseurs say the seeds of these berries, or coffee beans, taste even better after they've been through the luwak's digestive system. Luwak stomach acids and enzymes that work on these beans create a highly prized aromatic, bitterless cup of coffee. Some New Yorkers will pay $30 for it. However, the most enticing reason for encouraging Indonesian farmers to produce coffee from cat scat is because it may be on the menu for reducing the world's levels of greenhouse gases.

Northern Arizona University Ecological Economics Professor Yeon-Su Kim with the School of Forestry said the link is community forests. She said providing communities with incentives to protect rainforests could slow the destruction of these important carbon-storing ecosystems.

Indonesia is the world’s third largest tropical forest country, and it contains half of the world’s tropical peat lands. These wet, deep layers of organic matter have accumulated for thousands of years and hold a lot of carbon. Some go as deep as 11 meters.

According to Professor Kim, Indonesia's peatland holds 132 gigatons of carbon dioxide, a little less than the largest rainforest, the Amazon. As Indonesia's peatland is being destroyed (due to the harvesting of timber) , there is a massive carbon release, so much so, that through the destruction of forests and peatlands, Indonesia has become the third largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. It's only behind the United States and China, where greenhouse gas emissions are tied to economic development from vehicles and industry.

Professor Kim is developing a partnership between NAU and the University of Mataram (on the Indonesian island of Lombok) that involves teaching sustainable forestry, biodiversity and ecotourism, along with conducting climate change research. It also includes the exchange of collaborative experiences between organizations such as the Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU, the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership and Lombok's multi-stakeholder group.

As a result of this partnership, local citizens get paid for protecting forests, and simultaneously collecting shade-grown coffee, cacao, bananas, and kuwak coffee beans.

Somehow, it seems fitting that the most expensive coffee in the world comes from the country that has the most Muslims, who were the group that introduced coffee to the world way back in the 9th century:

Muslims and the dancing goats

When I was in the National Guard in the 1970’s, I used to think that the coffee tasted like, well, you know.

I’ve guess we’ve come a long way, baby.

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