It is said that the coffee plant was found by a shepherd in what is now Ethiopia. He’d noticed that after eating the plant’s red berries, some of his goats would hop around wildly. This was a serendipitous event that led to the development of one of the world’s most famous beverages, as well as the multibillion-dollar industry that surrounds it.
Coffee is consumed in large quantities in European countries, especially Finland. Per Finn consumes around 12 kilogrammes of coffee per year, which equates to three to four cups per day. However, coffee is Germany’s most popular beverage, surpassing both water and beer.
Plants are grown in many parts of the world, including Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, which are all known for producing coffee. Few people are conscious, however, that coffee plants can also be found in Europe, in the mild climates of the Azores and the Canary Islands. Some residents grow coffee plants in their gardens and harvest the beans for personal consumption.
Gran Canaria is home to Europe’s largest expanding area – and the only truly commercial one. The Spanish island off the coast of North Africa has ideal weather all year, with mild temperatures and rich lava soils. As a result, coffee thrives in the elongated Valle de Agaete valley’s lush vegetation.
Every year, between 1,500 and 2,000 kilogrammes of coffee are grown in the Agaete valley, with the slogan “class over mass.”
In Gran Canaria, Spain, ripe coffee beans are put on a drying sieve.
Coffee processing on the Canary Islands is entirely manual, from picking to drying to roasting.
Just the mature, red fruit lands on the drying screen, while the coffee beans are harvested by hand. The coffee farmers of Gran Canaria also do their own packaging, up to and including roasting on-site. Agaete coffee is not sold outside of the country. As a result, visiting coffee connoisseurs will get something that is truly unique in Europe: a cup of Joe grown locally.
The harvest season is from March to June. Visitors can learn about coffee growing on guided tours offered by some fincas.