Next time you pour yourself a cup of coffee, consider this:
For every cup consumed, 3 square centimeters of Central American forest is destroyed. That adds up to nearly 150,000 acres every year destroyed just for coffee production.
It takes a lot of fuel to produce a cup of coffee. And the journey from coffee bean to coffee cup is a long one. But now, thanks in part to new technology developed through the efforts of a Westford native, coffee production is on its way to becoming more environmentally friendly.
Rich Trubey, co-founder of the Mesoamerican Development Institute and a 1977 alumnus of Westford Academy, will present a lecture and slide show at the Westford Conservation Trust’s annual meeting tonight, titled “Forest Conservation in Central America: Green Technology and Biodiversity, Friendly Coffee and Biofuel Production.” Trubey will discuss how fair trade cooperatives are using new technology developed in New England to replace firewood in drying the coffee harvest.
The Mesoamerican Development Institute, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with offices at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in Costa Rica and Honduras, develops and implements renewable energy technologies in Central America in order to empower local economies and stem environmental damage.
According to Trubey, a solar- and biofuel-powered coffee bean dryer developed by the MDI is currently in use in one region of Honduras, allowing a community to keep its coffee production close to home. Previously, coffee growers would have to ship their beans more than 100 miles to another region of the country for processing. The new method allows the community to process the harvest, keeping a greater portion of the revenue.
“It represents a new milestone in both coffee production and renewable energy,” Trubey said.
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