Northern Ireland – The New Big Player In The Coffee Game?

When thinking about coffee and the locations across the world that is most associated with it, exotic destinations such as Brazil, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Colombia and Vietnam immediately come to mind.

Added: 03rd November 2015

Brazil is currently the number one country for coffee production on the entire planet, with experts in the field claiming that its proximity to the Amazonian rainforest makes for the perfect climate under which coffee plants can successfully grow. However, a country thousands of miles away from Brazil and the Amazon is starting to make headlines in the coffee producing industry, and that country is Northern Ireland.

Johnsons, a Northern Irish coffee-making operation based in Lisburn have teamed up with a local landscape gardener named David Paterson to conduct an ambitious experiment to attempt to grow high quality coffee plants in the United Kingdom. A representative of Johnsons, Phillip Mills, boasts a rich history in the world of coffee, with 25 years of experience in the industry and having sat on the judging panel of the World Barista Championships. Of the new plans, he explains “We have been importing and roasting beans since 1912 … over the years, a lot of folk have asked us if we grow the coffee beans here and we always laugh because of course the conditions aren’t right for that”.

But that might be about to change as Phillip and gardener David have hatched a plan to grow a crop of indoor coffee plants in the company’s very own back garden. The experiment is initially a very small one, with an ambition to plant roughly eighteen trees to assess their progress.

This is a drop in the ocean compared to Brazil’s 1.2 billion trees, and whilst Johnsons will obviously still have to import their beans in the meantime, it is hoped that their 18 local trees will unlock some secrets in to eventually running a completely home-based operation. The trick, according to experts, is to slowly raise the temperature of the tree room to 23 degrees, and then to keep it there at a constant rate to allow the plants to flourish. Of course, the traditional British and Irish weather means that this constant mild to warm requirement needs to be manually controlled, and this explains exactly why Johnsons cannot plant a field of coffee trees and expect perfect results.

So is Northern Ireland set to be the new coffee haven? Only time will tell.

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