Recent studies on coffee plantations on Easter Island reveal that Chile should be included in the so-called Coffee Belt. Highly qualified Chilean professionals already on the international specialty coffee circuit, just opened a new chapter unexpectedly in the history of coffee from our country. With the agricultural and commercial knowledge of our country they expect to start a revolution in the high end gourmet scene.
A collaborative process was initiated to convene public institutions of scientific research and high specialization in coffee to begin studies and work on the ground with everything related to Rapa Nui coffee lead by AgroWine Lab, accelerator of agro-wine businesses and Andes Wines.
Despite coffee plants arrived to Easter Island between 1800 and 1860, not until now, coffee became a future challenge to be produced and toasted in Rapa Nui. She has the support of Claudio Cristino, an archaeologist who works in Polynesia since 1976, when he worked in the restoration of the famous ceremonial village of Orongo in Rapa Nui. In 1978, he co-founded the Institute of Easter Island Studies at the University of Chile in Hanga Roa, and was its first Director. Between 1977 and 1990 with his colleague Patricia Vargas carried out the archaeological survey of Rapa Nui registering more than 20,000 features and archaeological sites that make up the largest database of this type in the Pacific islands.
The plantations of Easter Island are abandoned and in a state of high fragility. Major challenges have been identified in the processes and the initiative is centered on the transfer of methodologies to stabilize the ecosystem, to raise information on harvest & process methods if any, and in parallel to begin a genetic study of varieties to determine the propagation and production work. Genetic studies that will be commissioned to institutions specialized in the subject. The coffee producer seeks to satisfy the market demands ruled by commodities and sees a very low return compared to all the field work. Varieties of short productive lives delivered by multinationals, seasonal migration, soil wear, pests and climate change are some of the variables in prices.
Easter Island coffee is unique and will be considered as a luxury since the territory is limited. “We are aware that people for many years treated this as “the myth of the existence of coffee in Rapa Nui” and we want this to become a real agricultural option to the farmers in eastern island. With the proper training in cultivating and also in managing nurseries & methods, the next steps are propagating and training people to manage the coffee plantation and then, methods “beneficio” & roasting profiles.
For that matter, the projects is searching for USD 500.000 dollars for the field work and for the genetic study, whose challenge is to have a strategic plan to be able to have a proposal of efficient value for the search of investment and to be able to continue with the organic growth of this initiative.
There are not enough coffee plants for a commercial use in the island, this is a pilot project that started by collecting little few coffee beans in the wild area of the island to start the challenge of thinking how the Rapa Nui – Eastern Island wants to work on the coffee business. We are going to work with public-private sector to articulate a Road Map of the specialty coffee from Rapa Nui so all the aspects will be covered: genetic, farming, methods, roasting, branding, marketing and sales perspective.
It is important to point out that the genetic material that will be used in the propagation to have coffee plants is on the same island, so it is only species that has been established for more than 200 years in Rapa Nui that will be protected and rescued. The project seeks to protect the arrival of foreign companies with foreign plants, and develop a agrobusiness with direct benefit of the inhabitants of the island and highest quality for clients and consumers,” says Maximiliano Morales, Strategist of AgroWine Lab.