The tea from Ceylon is world famous – but it could have been quite different!
- The first coffee plants probably reached the island in the Indian Ocean around 1505 by Arab merchants.
- However, the native Sinhalese used only the leaves to make their curry mixtures.
- Dutch merchants started the first attempts of commercial coffee use in 1658, with plants that were illegally smuggled from today’s Yemen into the Amsterdam botanical garden in 1616.
- This is probably one of the first Christian colonial coffee plantations at all.
- But it was not until the 1825s that the British established a first plantation near the royal town of Kandy, also with Arabica plants from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, where coffee was introduced by the British around 1730.
- The central mountainous region with its rainy slopes and high plateaus proved to be ideal for coffee cultivation.
- Unfortunately, for the commercial cultivation, large forest areas were cleared in favor of shadowless coffee monocultures.
- In 1867 21,000 hectares of coffee were cultivated. Sri Lanka, with Brazil and Indonesia, was one of the world’s 3 largest coffee exporters.
- Starting in 1869, the plantations were destroyed within a few years by coffee leaf rust, a fungus disease and soil erosion.
- The coffee rat, which eats the buds and flowers of the coffee plants, also destroyed whole crops in Sri Lanka at the end of the 17th century.
- The Scot James Taylor then came up with the idea of cultivating tea, for which the country is now world-famous and ranked 4th among the tea producers.
- In 1953 coffee grew only to a total of 20 ha – in 1964 it was already 800 ha.
- In the 90s, the Dutch began to cultivate coffee on Sri Lanka again – this time sustained, so that the tragedy does not repeat itself.
- Arabica is grown in Kotmale at an altitude of 1,000 m and Robusta in Wattegama at an altitude of 500 m.
- Tastefully, the coffee has a beautiful body with complex aromas of caramel, coffee cherry, cocoa and pleasant citrus notes.
Coffee – කෝපි
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