San Diego

Coffee Considered New Cash Crop in San Diego

Farmers have only started growing coffee beans in San Diego within the last twelve or so years

San Diego is known as one of the main exporters of avocados, lemons, and tomatoes and now some farmers want to add coffee to that list. 

Despite popular belief that coffee beans must be grown in tropical climates like Costa Rica and Colombia, San Diego actually has the right conditions to grow coffee crops. 

The weather stays hot enough year-round to sustain the plants. Proper watering is crucial to allow the beans to thrive. 

"As long as we're not in a place that is too cold and keep watering them, the plants keep growing," said Chuck Badger, a coffee farmer based in Rancho Santa Fe and owner of R.E. Badger and Son Farm Management. 

His half-acre of land, once reserved for lemon trees, is now filled with dozens of coffee plants. 

"You can currently buy our crop through Blue Bottle," said Badger. 

Downtown San Diego coffee shops have expressed interest in selling locally-farmed coffee. Badger is currently in talks with Dark Horse Coffee. 

"They came out to visit our fields and are very excited about it," said Badger. 

Farmers have only started growing coffee beans in San Diego within the last twelve or so years, Badger said. The idea first took off in Ventura. 

Coffee beans grow within a red skin, called cascara, on the plant. More and more coffee shops are now flavoring coffee with the sweet cascara skin in order to utilize more of the crop. 

"We mostly grow arabica coffee," said Badger. "Most of these plants are about two years old." 

Badger's grandfather started growing avocados in the 1920's. Through the generations, the family switched to citrus fruits. Badger is hoping coffee will be the most profitable plant yet. 

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