- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
On the 20-acre organic farm of Goleta resident Jay Rusky, more than a dozen coffee varieties are being cultivated on a trial basis. Rusky first planted coffee in 2000; he now has about 400 trees. Gaskell told the reporter it is likely the most extensive coffee planting in California.
Coffee beans are the seeds of coffee cherries. The coffee tree is native to subtropical Africa and southern Asia. Most coffee is grown in subtropical and equatorial regions of the world.
Rusky's farm is on a south-facing slope at the 650-foot elevation, well below the snow line and above valley floors where frost can settle on winter mornings.
In the article, writer Karna Hughes outlined Gaskell's role in bringing coffee to the property.
"I had done trials with Jay before with lychees and longans," Gaskell was quoted. "On one of the visits, I remarked (the site) reminded me a lot of the coffee growing in the Kona area on the Big Island . . . I said, 'I think you ought to be able to grow coffee here because you're frost-free."
Gaskell, a Peace Corps veteran, provided Rusky with coffee seeds through his contacts in Central America. Now varieties from around the world are being cultivated on the farm - including Geisha coffee, which the article says can go for $150 per pound.
However, growing coffee in California isn't easy.
"It's a very different growing environment from what you see in Hawaii and in Central America in that the soils are more acid there and there are higher rainfalls (there)," Gaskell was quoted.
But the farmer is already meeting with some success. Certified "cuppers" - who test for coffee characteristics like flavor, aroma and body - gave the beans good marks.
"They have come back with a report that the quality of the coffee is extremely good - equal or better than a Kona-type coffee," the story quoted Gaskell.
Plans for expanding plantings and expanding the market for premium, locally grown coffee are now underway.