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Summer 2018 Wofford Today

From coffee farm to college campus

What goes into the farming and production of coffee

Wofford has two coffee shops on campus and half a dozen coffee shops within walking distance of the college.

During Interim, Dr. Mark Byrnes, professor and chair of history, and Dr. Cecile Nowatka, professor of psychology, taught a class on luxury comestibles, including coffee, and Dr. Laura Barbas Rhoden, professor of Spanish, has served as a translator for several Little River Roasting Co. buying trips to Spanish-speaking countries. When Gervais Hollowell ’85, owner of Little River Roasting, invited Wofford photographer Mark Olencki ’75 to join him on a coffee-buying trip to Nicaragua, we couldn’t help learning more about what goes into the farming and production of coffee.

A worker picks out what doesn’t belong during the coffee drying process
A worker picks out what doesn’t belong — dried cherry skins, sticks, imperfections — during the drying process at Finca Las Promesas.

Gervais Hollowell ’85 and others standing in a coffee shop
Coffee farmer Gonzago Castillo Moreno (in the white hat) owner of Finca Las Promesas de San Blas in Dipilto, Nicaragua, offers coffee and bananas to buyers as a gesture of hospitality. Gervais Hollowell ’85 is in the white shirt with the yellow mug.

Workers carry bags of cherries to the pulper
Workers carry bags of cherries to the pulper, some more than 100 pounds.

Mark Olencki standing in a coffee field
Mark Olencki ’75, Wofford’s college photographer and a great appreciator of coffee, traveled with Hollowell and the staff at Little River Roasting on their coffee-buying trip to Nicaragua in January. Wofford’s Acorn Cafe serves Little River Roasting Co. coffee. 

Two coffee farmers standing in their kitchen
Coffee farming in Nicaragua is a family business. Coffee supports more than 45,000 families that own and operate small farms.

Gervais Hollowell checks the aroma, flavor, uniformity and cleanliness of the coffee.
The cupping room at Las Segovias ensures quality control. Hollowell checks the aroma, flavor, uniformity and cleanliness of the coffee.

A worker screens the coffee coming from the pulper to keep the skins and debris away from the seeds
A worker screens the coffee coming from the pulper to keep the skins and debris away from the seeds. Pulping is the process that separates the seeds from the cherry.

Coffee seeds drying in a farmer's living room
These coffee seeds are so precious that the farmer is drying them in his living room in San Rafael del Norte. The seeds are from plants that are Roya resistant; they will be sold to farmers that need them.

Don Miguel’s family welcomes everyone to the kitchen for unbelievably fresh coffee
Don Miguel’s family welcomes everyone to the kitchen for unbelievably fresh coffee. 

Photos by Mark Olencki ’75