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What follows a Caribbean hurricane?
2017’s weather has been extreme. Here in the United Kingdom we have seen August’s usually hot long summer days drowned out with rain, whilst October has been unusually hot; but spare a thought for the Caribbean, which has been devastated by some of the strongest and most deadly hurricanes of the last 100 years. With all the stories of destruction of property and the wrecked communities, one aspect that has sadly not been reported widely is the devastation wrought on the areas coffee plantations by storm after storm.
The island of Puerto Rico’s economy is bound closely to growing and selling coffee beans and over the last few years there had been a renaissance in the cultivation of the crop. The storms of 2017 have, however, left the plantations in complete devastation.
The Puerto Rican coffee community has almost been wiped out this year. San Juan based coffee shop Quatro Sombras owned by Pablo Munoz, said, “In a matter of hours, Maria destroyed 90 percent of all coffee trees on the island, according to Mu\u00f1oz’s estimates. The storm dealt the most devastating blow to small-scale specialty coffee farmers who lack the diversification and support of industrial operations. Of the roughly 4,600 coffee producers on the island, many are private, family-owned farms ranging in size from 1 to 100 acres and producing less than 1,000 pounds of coffee beans per year.”
The international community has started to rebuild the areas basic infrastructure but coffee plantations will take longer and cost more to fully recover from the hurricane season of 2017. In the short term the lack of supply will probably mean that prices and quality of beans will rise and suffer accordingly.