There's a world coffee shortage looming, but that's not news.
There's a world coffee shortage looming, but that's not news. Italian roasting rep Andrea Illy told The Independent that we need an extra 50 million bags of coffee in the next decade. That's more than the entire crop currently available in Brazil. Awkward.
Everyone's an expert on why and how we're running out, but ask them when and where we're going to find an extra 50 million bags and everyone shuts up pretty quickly. Everyone except a man in Lisburn. That's not a typo - there's a Lisburn that's spelled like that.
Coffee needs to be grown in countries with a warm climate, high humidity, and high altitude. Lisburn is in Northern Ireland.
Johnsons Coffee has been roasting coffee in Lisburn for more than 100 years, but now fancies having a stab at growing it. David Pattison is helping them. David's a horticulturalist and the director of a landscape design company, so the coffee shrubs will certainly be arranged nicely.
They're growing 18 arabica plants which should yield around 300 cups of coffee. That's more than a little bit short of the 50 million bag mark. To be fair, Johnsons is aware of this and, in fact, the only people suggesting they intend to be become mass-producers is us. In order to recreate a Northern Irish Brazil, the cost per cup would only be deemed acceptable if it was the last cup of coffee left on Earth. And even then, you'd need to go to Lisburn to get it.
Johnsons intend to use their crop to educate the industry insiders about the coffee plant from seed to cup. Unless you're an undergraduate of Irish history and you know your potatoes from your troubles, or you actually are Irish, then you won't have heard of Lisburn. If you're either of the former, you'll appreciate the need for Lisburn to re-brand.
Johnsons says the plants are doing fine and dandy and expect them to be ready for harvesting in 2 to 3 years. Andrea Illy has nothing to say on the matter. Perhaps that's because nobody asked her.
Lisburn is the birthplace of the Irish linen industry yet on its border sits the remains of HM Prison Maze. Finding a less exotic spot for coffee cultivation would be impressive, but we can't help loving an underdog. We hope it works out for Johnsons, and if it does, we hope to receive an invitation to cup Northern Irish coffee beans on a grassy knoll on the bank of the River Lagan. In Gaelic, Lisburn is "Lios na gCearrbhach" and that means "ringfort of gamblers".