Coffee is a morning staple for many of us. The gurgle of the coffee pot; the ceramic warmth of a favorite mug; the rich aroma of caffeinated bliss… Yes, whether we make it ourselves or buy it from our friendly neighborhood baristas, coffee is culturally pervasive. And it has been for generations. But have you ever wondered about the life of coffee before it gets stuffed in our kitchen cupboards, brewed on our counter tops, or poured into our paper cups exclaiming “Caution: Contents Hot!”?
From the 1940’s Department of Agriculture (RG 16-G) I present – the story of coffee.
“The picking of coffee by hand requires skilled and rapid stripping from the branches. 1949”
“Coffee harvest. The pickers select the ripe red cherries leaving the green, immature fruit on the tree for later harvest. Finca Moca, Guatelon, Guatemala. Mitchell. 10-19-48″
“Coffee drying in concrete patio is turned at intervals to expose all beans to the sun. Finca Chocola. Guatemala. Mitchell. 13-17-45″
“Coffee cherries demonstrate variation in yield of individual trees. Measured harvests of 60 blocks of 100 trees each proved that the yield varies from one tenth of a pound (left) to fifteen pounds (right) of dry coffee per tree per year. Janie Cowgill in the picture. Instituto Agropecuario Nacional, Chocola, Guatemala. 12-1-49″
“Coffee flower is pollinated by Dr. William H. Cowgill, U.S. Dept. Agr.-OFAR, assigned to the cooperative agricultural station as head of the Department of Horticulture, Instituto Agropecuario Nacional, Chocola, Guatemala. Mitchell. 12-1-49″
“Coffee trees are being grafted in trials to determine the most effective method of improving coffee plantations through grafting. This is the second step – the scion is placed in a cut on the side of the rood stock. The graft is then taped and covered with paraffin. Instituto Agropecuario Nacional, Chocola, Guatemala. 12-1-49″
“Coffee cutting rooted in a trial to determine the best way of producing desirable planting stock by this method. These cuttings, of mature wood, were set in the beds in January, 1949. Instituto Agropecuario Nacional, Chocola, Guatemala. 12-1-49″
“Coffee trees, closely planted three rows wide, in rotation with Crotalaria spectabilis for cover and soil improving crop. Instituto Agropecuario Nacional, Chocola, Guatemala. Mitchell. 12-1-49″
“Coffee tree, one of a group selected for high yielding characteristics, is inspected by Thomas Villanova (left) and Ford M. Milam. Senior Villanova is in charge of coffee improvement work at the cooperative agricultural station. Mr. Milan, of the USDA, OFAR, is assigned to the station in El Salvador. Centro Nacional de Agronomia, Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Mitchel. 11-10-49″
“Coffee samples from various areas are being tested for taste and aroma by Sr. Aldo Cabella. Oficina Central de Cafe, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Mitchell. 4-3-47″