Coffee is one of the most climate sensitive agricultural commodities produced. Referred to as the Coffee Belt, only a number of countries possess the right conditions to grow coffee. Nepal is not usually associated with coffee cultivation; however, their unique climate is proving ideal for producing specialty coffees.
More than Mountains: Why Nepal’s Climate is a Coffee Growers Paradise
If you ask most people where coffee is grown, they’d likely list off a number of Latin American countries like Colombia or Brazil or maybe a handful of African countries if they were a little more well versed. But if you mentioned Nepal, the first thing that would come to mind is Mount Everest and the snowy Himalayan Mountains, definitely not specialty coffee.
The world’s Coffee Belt runs along the equator and has a ton of distinct climates that are conducive to growing coffee. However, Nepal is emerging as a country with the perfect conditions for growing specialty coffees comparable to more renowned regions like Central America or Ethiopia.
So, what exactly are the ideal climate conditions for growing coffee, and how did a small, landlocked country in the Himalayas known for its mountaineering become a specialty coffee destination?
Let's take a look…
Coffee grows in cooler to warm climates with rich soils and little or no pests
The annual temperature variations in and around Kathmandu (where our coffee estate is located) hovers between 40 degrees at its coldest and 83 degrees at its hottest. This means that even in its cold season, coffee trees are not at risk of frost, and at its warmest, the common pest known as the coffee berry borer struggles to survive.
High quality, Arabica coffee is best produced at altitudes between 3000 - 6000 feet
Kathmandu and its surrounding valleys sit at roughly 4500 feet meaning there is less oxygen in the air. So how does this affect coffee quality? The less available oxygen for coffee plants to absorb means the trees produce coffee cherries slower, giving the trees more time to soak up rich nutrients in the soil and produce a more flavorful bean.
Coffee trees needs consistent irrigation or water runoff to mature properly
Nepal is home to the Himalayan Mountains that provide fresh, high alpine snow melt water to estates and villages below. At Plantec Estate just hours outside Kathmandu, our grower uses this annual supply of snow melt as a natural source of irrigation for their fields and for wet processing their cherries.
Being landlocked has its perks
Most coffee, when ready for export is hulled into burlap sacks and loaded onto freighters to be shipped across large bodies of water. This shipping process can be lengthy and the longer raw coffee greens sit before roasting, the more likely their overall taste is to be impacted.
Nepal doesn’t have a seaport, and this actually has become an advantage in producing a high quality, specialty coffee. Shipping by air from Nepal means our coffee spends less time in bags and transport, meaning less time between you and our growers. This allows us to offer a full-flavored brew, and that’s better for everyone.
One more reason to visit Nepal
If the towering mountain ranges or mystical monasteries weren’t enough to have you considering Nepal for your next adventure, add this landlocked gem to your list of specialty coffee destinations. There, you can bask in the beauty of high-quality brews produced right at the base of the Himalayas.