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Coffee trees being restored around Guam

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by Joan Aguon Charfauros

Guam - Brewing coffee from local beans? It may sound impossible but could soon be a luxury for island residents.

The best part of waking up may soon be brewing coffee from local beans. According to Department of Agriculture director Tita Taitague, one of her goals is to promote growing local and buying local. Part of that means restoring Guam's coffee tree population. According to the longtime farmer Tina Taitague, there are reports of over 200 coffee trees planted in the Masso area in the village of Piti in the late 1970s, but due to fires along Nimitz Hill, coffee tree numbers have since depleted.

"In Masso there's an agricultural area. There's lots of coffee trees. At one point, they say in 1978 - between July to December they planted 240 coffee trees," she added. "I said I'm curious and I'm so excited so we don't have to ask people out of our territory for coffee plants."

She's recently visited the site only to see that there are only a handful of surviving trees with beans, some of which appear to be sprouting. "With this weather I have the intention that we should go down there and gather all the seedlings that are growing and plant them in a nursery so we can plant more coffee trees," said Taitague.

She says such is working for Saipan, where they grow, roast, and brew homegrown coffee beans. She's been working with a Saipan farmer for the last few months to get seeds to the island to nurture in the Department of Agriculture's nursery. "Since I've been in office I've been looking around for coffee trees and my friend there in Saipan was willing to send me down 24 plants of coffee and it's right back here in the nursery," she told KUAM News.

She's also looked to the states for kona and arabica beans. Of that supply however, few were able to successfully grow. She remains determined, however, as the Saipan batch has survived more than three months. She's also determined to give her boss, Governor Eddie Calvo, a taste of the local brew.

"I'm trying to make sure he gets his first cup of coffee during his administration," she said happily.

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