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Humans are damaging the fragile Galapagos ecosystem. Maybe coffee can help save it.


Source: WUNC org website.

Conservationists hope building a market for local, shade-grown coffee could help restore vital but degraded scalesia forests on Santa Cruz Island, in the Galapagos. PHOTO:Jay Grandin/FLICKR.

No one comes to the Galapagos Islands for coffee. But Scott Henderson is hoping to change that.

There are no giant tortoises around his farm in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the most popular of the islands. No marine iguanas or blue footed boobies. Just Henderson and his ripe red coffee beans.

His farm, called Lava Java, is the soup to nuts operation of gourmet coffee. He grows the beans, picks and husks them, soaks them to ferment off the sugars, dries and roasts them, and then sells them to foreign visitors craving more than a glimpse of the islands’ famous wildlife.

“The whole coffee idea was to find a way to tap into these 200,000 high-end Starbucks addicts out in the bay on these nice boats and five-star hotels,” Henderson says.

But he and his wife, Maria Elena Guerra, aren’t aiming to become coffee barons. They came to the Galapagos 25 years ago as conservationists. And their farm is actually more about trees than coffee.

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