The California coffee industry is steadily expanding as demand for the domestically grown product shows significant promise. Last year, Frinj Coffee cooperative sold their entire crop to Blue Bottle Coffee who paid $60 per pound for the beans. Cups of the coffee cost $18 each, and sold out in less than two weeks in the cafes it was being offered in.
Most American coffee production has historically taken place in Hawaii. Farmers in California have started taking interest in producing high-value coffee beans after realizing the sub-tropical plants have the potential to thrive in the state. According to the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, there are currently 30 farms with over 30,000 coffee trees planted. There are also more than 24 farms forecasted to start growing coffee in 2018.
Coffee growers are spread out from Morro Bay down to San Diego, but the majority of production takes place in southern California where the climate is more suitable for a sub-tropic crop. Some avocado growers have begun planting coffee trees as the irrigation and fertilizer requirements for each crop are similar, but profits are substantially higher for coffee beans.
The Huntley College of Agriculture recently held their first California Coffee Summit on January 18 at Cal Poly Pomona to help address the growing interest in the crop. Attendees heard information on which varieties are best suited for California production, along with what to expect in terms of pest and disease management.
The California coffee industry only has a small percentage of acreage producing at the moment, but the market for domestically grown premium coffee is likely to expand. While the average cup of coffee costs less than two dollars, there remains a strong demand for premium-priced coffees. A coffee shop in Rancho Cucamonga recently sold cups of coffee priced at $55 per cup, after a record-setting auction saw coffee sold at $601 per pound.