In the lush, fertile mountains of Cuba, farmer Jesus Chaviano dreams of adding his arabica beans to a list of specialty coffees the country hopes will lift an industry in decline.
It's harvest time on Chaviano's eight-hectare (20-acre) plantation in the central Guamuaya mountain range, and his 42,000 coffee plants burst with ripe reddish fruit in the shadow of avocado and banana trees. At 800 meters (2,600 feet) altitude, conditions are ideal for the eight varieties of high-quality arabica coffee beans he planted with his "own hands." While Cuba has been growing coffee for almost 300 years, it has never produced the specialty coffees beloved worldwide for their unique flavor profiles that come from careful cultivation in a specific terroir. In the past two decades, the appeal of high-end coffee has soared, and so has its price on the international market.