Central American coffee industry rebounds by going green

A global surplus of coffee five years ago sent the Central American coffee industry into a tailspin, but it is gradually recovering by focusing on high-quality beans — which in many cases means organically grown. In that rarest of things, a genuine win-win situation, the industry is being helped by an odd coalition including large U.S. coffee corporations, international conservation groups, U.S. aid agencies, and Central American governments. The U.S. government sees aid as a way of encouraging financial stability in nearby nations; conservation groups see it as a way of encouraging biodiversity and reducing erosion, both enabled by organic coffee farms; U.S. coffee corporations see it as a way of ensuring a steady supply of high-quality coffee, which is in high demand these days; and Central American governments see it as a way of reducing unemployment and social unrest. The assistance available to farmers willing to go organic also enables them to pay higher salaries and offer more health benefits.