Jill Tayfield beside one of her nearly 500 coffee plants, outside Empangeni.
KWAZULU-NATAL is on its third caffeine high in history

The sugar rush got in the way of the first attempt between the latter half of the 19th century when sugar cane proved so much easier to grow than coffee, and competitive world prices brought down the next high a century later.

This is according to Dylan Cumming of Beaver Creek on the south coast, who not only grows his own strains of Arabica but also roasts for smaller growers to keep the third high alive at a time when coffee is the craze, but the price of labour is high and the commodity price is low.

“It’s a crucial time for farmers to show it can be a success, and set the example of there being an opportunity for other farmers looking for alternatives to sugar and macadamia nuts,” he said.

It helps that there is an interest in high-end quality coffees.

“With that, people are looking for exotic new coffees that they can relate to, knowing where they come from.”

KZN-grown coffee is generally similar to what comes out of Kenya, said Cumming, who has travelled to Africa’s other coffee belts and identified places in KZN as suitable for coffee-growing as Ethiopia, which ranks so highly.

Altitude and latitude, which influence temperature, as well as rainfall and the timing of that rain are important factors that decide on a location being suitable for coffee- growing, he pointed out.

Outside Empangeni, on the KZN north coast, a collection of coffee plants Jill Tayfield’s father once planted has provided seed for nearly 500 trees which she grows at only a coastal height above sea-level, and with sufficient water.

Cumming roasts her crop, but her venture has justified her importing a pulper from Brazil.

While larger coffee ventures such as Assegai Coffee Farm, inland of Durban, and Beaver Creek have the by-product of offering coffee tours, a unique by-product of Tayfield’s enterprise has been found up a tree: a bird family in her garden has lined its nest with the pulp from her coffee crop.

Dylan Cumming will give “seed to cup” talks on October 4 at Stir Coffee House, Empangeni, and on October 5 at One on Heley coffee shop, Mtunzini. To book call Sandy on 0840546611 (Stir) or 0824526372 (One on Heley).