California’s Golden Brew: Mapping California’s Coffee Growers and the New Cash Crops

fullsizeoutput_f8a.jpegSUMMARY OF PROJECT:

“Golden State Brew” is multi-layered, interdisciplinary project seeking to weave complex narratives—agricultural, ecological, cultural, and historical—that have collided in what may be the state’s next agricultural gold rush: sustainable coffee growing.

Coffee is a relatively new addition to Southern California’s agricultural landscape and an emerging enterprise. In the last decade, though, approximately twenty-five new growers have introduced coffee intercropping in their already existing avocado production along the Southern California coast. Like many self-described pioneers, these farmers employ various approaches to sustainability, community development, and organic growing. Finally, all of these endeavors take place on historical landscapes that have experienced various forms of agricultural and urban/suburban development.

Based at Whittier College in metropolitan Los Angeles, California, the project explores all of these narratives through wide-ranging interdisciplinary collaborations. These include research experiments with Cal Poly Pomona and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (see “current research” for more information), partnerships with coffee roasters like the Coffee Manufactory, and a documentary film exploring California’s coffee boom.

“Golden State Brew” also includes Whittier’s sustainable urban coffee orchard. Planted in May 2019, the 1/8-acre plot includes 16 different varieties of coffee (64 plants total) that will be intercropped with avocado trees.