IN southern Brazil, a coffee-field seldom lasts more than thirty years. The plantations are made on the fertile hill-sides; but the soil here is never deep six or eight inches of mold at the utmost and in twenty-five or thirty years, the strong-growing coffee-tree eats it all up.

The ground is covered with earthen pots set close together, only leaving little pathways at intervals. Each pot contains a thriving young coffee-plant. The ground forms a gentle slope, and water is constantly running over it, so that it is always soaked. The pots, through orifices at the bottoms, draw up enough of this water to keep the roots moistened. The young plants are protected from the sun by mat screens stretched on poles above the ground.  In this way they are not put back when transplanted, as the pots are simply inverted and the roots come out with the earth. 

They are then set into mold or compost which has been prepared in deep holes. The tender rootlets catch hold of this at once, and in a day or two the plant is growing as well as ever. The plants are set in rows about ten feet apart. They grow, and thrive, and are happy, out on the hillside. Warm sunshine caresses the leaves; generous rains feed the tender roots; the ground is kept free from intruding weeds and bushes, and the planter waits for his harvest.

After four years, the trees are six feet high and begin to bear. By the sixth year, the crops are very large, three or even four pounds per tree at times. Meanwhile, corn and mandioca are planted between the rows. Often in a new plantation the expenses are nearly covered by these subsidiary crops.

November is the principal gathering month. The work is performed by slaves, and very hard they have to work; for in 1892 they will be free, so the slaveholder's policy is to get as much work as possible from them while he can. From sunrise to sunset, men, women, and children are gathering the berries in baskets, working silently and steadily under the overseer's eye. Every day, each slave gathers, on the average, berries enough to produce fifty pounds of dried coffee. The pickings are collected in carts and brought to the mill-house, where the seeds must be prepared for the market. 




Kicking The Coffee Habit

     Caffeine!  Is it friend or foe?  Is it really the soother of nerves?  Is it a refresher or a depressor?  Is it harmless or can it cause birth defects?

     Coffee and tea are the two most popular beverages in America.  Less than 9% of the population drink neither coffee or tea.  Coffee is America’s No. 1 drug problem.

     These figures mean that over 200 billion doses of the drug caffeine are consumed by people in this country every year.  Sadly, most people have no idea that their morning cup of coffee or glass of tea at lunch is a drug.  Caffeine is addictive, causes withdrawal symptoms when discontinued, and induces both psychological and physical dependence.

Caffeine Withdrawal

     Caffeine withdrawal can occur from just missing one cup of coffee in the morning.  Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are headaches, irritability, inability to work effectively, nervousness, restlessness and lethargy.  A steady user of caffeine may at times experience tight headaches in the back of the neck area and be quick to anger or irritation.


     Caffeine acts as a stimulant.  Body actions are speeded up.  This is not a natural thing for the body. What it does is speed up the metabolism.

     Executive Fitness News letter, October 13, 1984, issue, said:  It’s important to remember that the caffeine in coffee is a powerful substance.  It can stimulate the central nervous system, increase heartbeat and metabolic rate, increase the secretion of stomach acid and step up kidney and bladder action.  It’s also well-known for its annoying ability to affect sleep. ”The article goes on to say that in higher doses it can cause ‘coffee nerves’ with a wide assortment of symptoms “including anxiety, irritability, headaches, high-headedness, nausea, and diarrhea.”

     Coffee can also cause a temporary increase in blood sugar, but it is quickly followed by a decrease, and stimulates the release of adrenalin, which causes body tissue to be broken down into sugar and fat.  Too much insulin is produced and the blood sugar falls to a low level.


     Caffeine the substance in coffee is a powerful poison.  A drop of caffeine injected into the skin of an animal will produce death within a few minutes.  An infinitely small amount injected into the brain will bring convulsions.  The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee is quite small.  Yet we drink coffee because of the effect of the caffeine, just as we smoke because of the effect of the nicotine. Both are drugs, both are habit-forming.


     There are two modern disorders that the general public usually associates with coffee drinking—ulcers and heart trouble.  J.A. Roth and A.C. Ivy,  whose animal experiments on coffee are famous, states in Gastroenterolgy November 1948, that “Caffeine produces gastro-duodenal ulcers in animals to whom the drug is given in a beeswax container so that their stomachs are absorbing caffeine continually.  Also caffeine produces very definite changes in the blood vessels of animals which are similar to changes produced by prolonged resentment, hostility and anxiety.”


     The Providence Journal wrote in October 1, 1990 that: “People who drink more than two cups of coffee or four cups of tea a day could be increasing their risk of hip fracture in old age, according to a new study.

     “T study, published in the October issue of the American journal of Epidemiology, is the first to link caffeine consumption with the hip fractures that occur in older people whose bones have weakened.  A hip fracture often marks an elderly person’s into dependency or death.

     “Dr. Douglas P. Kiel, a professor of medicine at Brown University, and his colleagues looked at how much coffee or tea 3,170 people reported drinking over 14 years.  Then they looked to see which ones fractured their hips, a sign that bones had become brittle.  They found that heavy caffeine drinkers were 53 percent were more likely to suffer hip fractures.

     “Caffeine has long been suspected of draining calcium from the bones, because people who consume it have higher levels of calcium in their urine.  Loss of calcium leads to osteoporosis, the brittle bone condition that afflicts many elderly people—most of them women—and results in an estimated 250,000 hip fractures each year.”


     What happens when the heart, sick or well, is constantly stimulated day after day, while all the time is protesting that it is tired and wants a rest?  Let’s compare coffee to a whip used on a tired horse.  Of course the horse will move faster when he is whipped, but how long can you keep up this form of stimulation before the horse drops from exhaustion?  The main danger in the use of coffee by people who may have heart trouble is that instead of resting as they should when they are tired, they whip themselves to more effort by a cup of coffee and eventually—sooner or later—they are going to have to pay for the rest they are not getting.  This is also true for the person that has a healthy heart.  

     Some people use to say that they  drink coffee only in the morning, so it doesn’t matter if they over-stimulate their bodies.  They are not trying to go to sleep!  Instead they have to prepare themselves to meet the day’s problems, responsibilities and hard work, so they need to be stimulated.  There is a serious fallacy in this kind of reasoning.  If they are indeed so tired and run-down that each morning they cannot face the day without a cup of stimulation, then certainly there is something wrong somewhere.  Over-stimulation even in the morning means that an already tired body is “hopped up” to carry on when it should be resting.

Katy Chamberlin