Steep, sloping hills covered in verdant green, lush foliage paint the morning sky. In the distance, the sun peers over a horizon filled with peaks and valleys.
Birds sing their morning mountain songs; their far-off, faint melodies greeting you as you walk out onto the wooden porch beams.
You breathe in the aroma of a freshly brewed, piping hot cup of coffee as you sit down, quietly taking in the view. You enjoy peace, calm, and serenity with each sip.
What a fabulous way to enjoy a cup of coffee!
Most coffee connoisseurs enjoy their first cup of the day in the quiet of the morning. And, some are fortunate enough to savor each sip amidst the sheer beauty found in a view like the one mentioned above.
But, did you know that such a mountain landscape offers far more than a gorgeous setting where one may enjoy a rich and bold cup of coffee?
In fact, if you’re looking for a tastier and healthier cup, drinking coffee that’s grown to maturity at such high altitudes is a must!
So, we’d like to take you on a journey, high into the rainforest mountains of Nicaragua where our coffee plants are grown, producing ripe, dense, flavorful coffee cherries.
And, after you’re better acquainted with this region and the ways we seek to carefully, mindfully grow our coffee there, you can read on to discover all the healthy benefits Lifeboost coffee gains from this spectacular region and our specialized growing practices.
Growing Lifeboost Coffee Beans - Where & How
Growing coffee at high elevations actually forces more meticulous growing practices.
As the mountainous terrain brings about a bit of difficulty when it comes to planting and harvesting, our knowledgeable farmers in these areas must plant the coffee plants, monitor their growth, and pick ripened coffee cherries all by hand.
Their life’s work, dedication, and labor is evidenced in the unparalleled quality and exquisite flavor of the coffee they harvest!
The region where our farmers live and our coffee plants are grown is largely in the Bosawas Reserve, including Mt. Kilambe, in Nicaragua.
Outside of the Amazon basin, Nicaragua is home to the largest rainforest in the world.
At elevations between 2000 and 5700 feet, Mt. Kilambe and much of the Bosawas Reserve is home to a cloud forest, where a canopy of dense moisture protects native flora such as large, beautiful orchids and giant lush tree ferns.
Trekking up the mountain to the highest regions, where our coffee is grown, our coffee farmers are privileged to behold amazing wonders such as the resplendent Quetzal, a bird that is said to be a symbol of goodness and light, with uniquely bright blue-turquoise outer feathers tipped in black, a beautifully bold red breast, and elegantly long tail feathers.
This magnificent region is also home to the sleek, spotted, and sly jaguar and the short-haired, coal black tapir, both in need of recognition and protection, as they are among the most endangered species in Nicaragua.
And, that only scratches the surface.
An all-encompassing, complete look at the mountainous Nicaraguan rainforest reveals this majestic region to be home to nearly 203 mammal, 700 bird, 172 reptile, 64 amphibian, and 250,000 insect species.
For those species inhabiting the regions of highest altitude, areas where our coffee plants are grown, we foster a respected relationship.
One way we seek to do this is through our support of The Rainforest Trust, which works to protect and preserve critical environments in areas such as the Bosawas Reserve.
And, by incorporating sustainable farming practices, as we grow our coffee plants, we work with the environment here, not against it.
How do we do this?
- The native flora grown at the same elevation as our coffee plants provide shade for both our plants and the insect and bird species in the area, while also enriching the nutrient quality of the soil.
- As the birds, insects, reptile, mammal, and amphibian species in the area live amongst our coffee plants, they provide natural pest control, omitting the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
- Our farmers rotate the crops planted in these areas, preventing soil erosion.
These practices, along with our partnership with the Rainforest Trust, ensures we are protecting and living in harmony with the plants and wildlife in these mountain regions.
Of course, the obvious reason we choose to work in sync with the environment is due to the fact that we love this planet and desire to protect it both for us now and for future generations to come.
But, working in harmony with the environment also provides rewards that are passed on to us when we consume and enjoy crops (here coffee, obviously) that are grown with plant, animal, and planet preservation in mind.
Here, we’ll see both health and flavor benefits that we gain simply by growing our coffee plants at high altitudes, incorporating sustainable growing practices that work hand in hand with the environment.
Mountain Grown Coffee Gains
1. Higher Elevation, Higher Antioxidant Content
If you’ve ever grown your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables, or even nurtured a house plant, then chances are you’ve seen firsthand how temperamental plants can be.
Growing any type of plant requires specific care, and changing the type of care you give to each plant can vastly change the yielded result.
Some coffee farmers mass produce their crop in low elevations out in the direct sunlight, and this, of course, yields a completely different flavor profile than coffee grown amongst native plants and wildlife at high elevations.
We’ll soon explore the differences such practices can make when it comes to the flavor of your brew, but first, what happens to the coffee cherry itself when grown high in those beautiful Nicaraguan mountains we’ve described to you thus far?
When coffee is grown at altitudes exceeding roughly a mile above sea level, the climate in these regions is both cooler and drier than those at lower heights.
And, back to the original thought/example in this point, if you’ve ever grown a garden, you know that cool temps means slowed growth.
Thankfully, growing coffee slowly reaps fabulous rewards!
Since elevation grown coffee matures more slowly, this means the plant has more time to absorb nutrients from the surrounding soil, and here is where the benefits of using the native flora and fauna of the region in crop growth cannot be understated.
Omitting the use of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides in our coffee growing practices means the soil can continually be enriched through natural plant fertilization as neighboring leaves fall and decompose in the soil along with natural fertilizers from local wildlife as well (yes, we’re talking droppings here).
Together, these provide a rich, nutrient dense soil for the coffee cherries to grow.
One of the most noted nutrient benefits to coffee grown in soil at high altitudes is an increase in chlorogenic acid, aka a polyphenol powerhouse.
Chlorogenic acid is essentially the antioxidant that puts coffee on the health food map!
This antioxidant is highly noted for its ability to reduce inflammation and specifically combat oxidative stress within the brain.
It has been found to significantly improve short term memory impairment as well as reverse overall cognitive decline.
And, this powerful antioxidant has been shown to reduce tumor growth.
In mice, chlorogenic acid has been used to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and potentially even prevent obesity and obesity related metabolic syndrome.
This antioxidant’s overall ability to fight oxidative stress within the body, even fighting systemic inflammation and high blood pressure, makes it a powerful disease fighter!
Drinking coffee grown at high altitudes ensures you are getting all the antioxidant disease-fighting power coffee is most noted for.
2. Higher Elevation, Higher Overall Nutrient Content
Coffee is most known for its antioxidant content. But, as you might have guessed, the same environment that boosts those antioxidant levels, also allows for greater absorption and content of nutrients overall.
Besides those polyphenols, coffee contains vitamins B2 and B3, magnesium, and potassium.
B vitamins are known for keeping your liver healthy. They boost your body’s ability to absorb iron, maintain the mucous membranes in your gut, keep hormone production optimal, and maintain the health of your eyes, skin, nerves, and muscles.
The magnesium in coffee is thought to be linked to why coffee drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, as this nutrient helps your body control blood glucose levels as well as properly use insulin.
Many folks are known to be deficient in magnesium, as the average American doesn’t consume appropriate amounts of fruits and vegetables. And, while coffee isn’t a substitute for fresh produce, it can help you consume your daily needed magnesium requirement.
While coffee isn’t considered to be a high potassium food, the greater nutrient content of elevation grown coffee means you may benefit from potassium’s known ability to regulate blood pressure, boost kidney health, prevent bone loss and muscle weakness, and ensure proper nerve functioning.
3. Less Fungus Among Us!
Arabica coffee varieties are more favored among coffee aficionados. Yet, this type of coffee, as opposed to the more bitter Robusta variety, is more susceptible to the growth of mold.
Many large coffee companies combat this susceptibility by mass producing coffee plants in the sun in deforested plantations at low elevations. These practices then almost always necessitate the use of pesticides and other chemicals to keep mold and pests at bay.
Growing Arabica coffee at higher elevations means these plant varieties get the cool air and moisture needed to produce a superior quality coffee, without the mold and pests!
Well, we now know that growing coffee in the mountainous rainforests incorporates the normal flora and fauna of the region which act as natural pest controlling agents.
And, at altitudes of 5700 feet, more than a mile above sea level, the plants receive ample, needed rainwater, but it’s the slope of the mountain which ensures that the water doesn’t hang around long enough to create an environment suitable for mold growth.
Basically, at these heights, rainwater easily drains away, allowing a perfectly cool (due to the altitude) and appropriately dry (due to the draining rainwater) climate free of conditions needed for mold and fungi to flourish.
And, just in case anyone may be thinking, why should I care about whether or not mold matters when it comes to drinking coffee…
- molds are actually more common than we think, being found in a variety of foods and drinks that the average person consumes.
- molds can produce toxins, known as mycotoxins, in foods that, when ingested, can seriously threaten the health of both humans and animals.
- mycotoxins, specifically aflatoxins and a toxin known as ochratoxin a which is caused by two common molds, have been known to:
- Cause DNA damage
- Negatively affect a growing fetus
- Cause liver cancer
- Adversely affect the immune system
- Cause damage to the kidneys (including kidney cancer)
And, besides the elevation coffee growing benefits regarding the reduction of mold growth in our coffee, here at Lifeboost we also 3rd party test our beans for mycotoxins, molds, heavy metals, pesticides, plus 400 other toxins to ensure you are getting the cleanest beans we can find!
4. The Finest Flavor
Health benefits aren’t the only perks of growing coffee at high altitudes.
When coffee is grown at elevations reaching at least 5700 feet above sea level, we learned of how this cool mountain air causes the coffee cherries to mature at a slower rate.
Well, this slowed ripening allows for the beans to be permeated with natural, complex sugars, creating a greater concentration of compelling flavors in these nutrient dense beans.
Generally, coffee beans that are grown at higher elevations are smaller and harder than those grown at low elevations, and some liken these flavors produced here to that of wine.
In wine making, those grapes grown on a hillside are often smaller, and though these small fruits produce less juice, they yield flavors with much greater concentration.
And so, the same is true of coffee cherries, with those grown at high elevations yielding a small, dense cherry, full of unparalleled and highly coveted flavor.
The mountain environment also impacts the flavor of your brew through the natural water drainage at such altitudes.
At high elevations, water drains off the mountain effortlessly, reducing the amount of water in the coffee cherries, allowing for yet another way to increase the concentration of flavor in the fruit.
We hope this journey into the world of mountain grown coffee has revealed not only the magnificent ways in which our environment works in sync with our coffee farmers to produce a truly spectacular tasting cup of coffee, but how growing coffee at such heights also benefits your health as well!Fine, concentrated, complex flavor
- Reduced mold/toxin growth
- Greater antioxidant content
- Greater nutrient content
- Increased benefit to disease defense
…each of these rewards are yours to be reaped when you drink elevation-grown coffee like Lifeboost!