Coffee growers fight bug assault

SILENT MENACE:An insidious invasion is threatening to overthrow the local coffee growing industry, with 90 percent of all farms in Gukeng affected by it last year

By Chan Shih-hung, Yang Chin-chen and Jason Pan

The coffee industry is under assault from a bug invasion, and farmers and agricultural scientists are set on discovering an effective measure to contain the infestation.

Gukeng Township (古坑) in Yunlin County is a well-known coffee producing region with 60 hectares under cultivation, of which 40 hectares were infested last year by an insect known as the coffee berry borer, a small beetle native to Africa, the Agriculture and Food Agency said.

With a destruction rate of between 20 to 50 percent for the affected farms, the bug has wrought considerable damage. Now, farmers are fearful that the infestation will spread further.

Liu Yi-teng (劉易騰), the head of the coffee cultivation division of Gukeng Township Farmers’ Co-operative, said the beetle attacks the coffee berries, from which coffee beans are extracted.

“The insect bores into the coffee berry and eats from the inside. It also lays eggs inside. The larvae use the berry as their main food source when they hatch,” Liu said.

“It is a big problem for us because maybe only a few small pits are seen on the berry, so it is difficult to tell from the outside if the fruit is infested,” he said.

“The farmer only knows the extent of the blight when the coffee berries’ skins are removed and the inside is found chewed up and rotten,” Liu added.

Liu said only a few farmers mentioned the infestation previously. However, the infestations exploded last year, with 90 percent of all coffee plants in the Gukeng area affected to some degree.

Liu uses a method to fight the infestation in which he incinerates infested coffee fruit at high temperature to kill the bugs off. He believes this cuts the infestation of his harvest to 20 percent.

Sun Wang-tien (孫旺田), an agricultural specialist at Gukeng Township, said the bug blight has spread to a wide area and the infestation is growing increasingly worse.

“It is very serious for coffee farms at lower elevations and is spreading toward the south. It is becoming a big concern for most coffee growers in the country,” he said.

Chen Jung-lien (陳永連), head of Greater Tainan’s Dongshan (東山) coffee industry development association, said his region had a big outbreak five years ago, when more than 90 percent of coffee berries were infested.

“At the time, we used biochemicals to lure and trap the pests. It helped to contain the blight and last year our region saw less than 10 percent of our berries infested,” he said.

Besides Gukeng, other coffee production areas are Huisun Forest (惠蓀林場) in Nantou County, Dongshan in Greater Tainan and other central and southern areas.

In one method used to capture the bug, the insect is lured out of the berry with a one-to-one mixture of ethanol and methanol — a volatile organic chemical that has an odor highly attractive to the beetles — and then drowned in a water trap.

The traps are visible throughout coffee fields in the Dongshan area in various forms — plastic bottles and canisters — and are now being copied and distributed to growers in Gukeng.

Liu said each time he checks, hundreds of drowned beetles are found inside the traps, demonstrating that the method is successful.

Wang Sheng-yang (王升陽), director of National Chung Hsing University’s experimental forest plantation, said measures must be implemented quickly, because Taiwan has favorable conditions for most insects.

It is a relatively recent problem, he said, and most likely was due to people importing and planting raw coffee berries that contained the pest or its larvae, which led to the infestation in Taiwan.

Ko Wen-hsiung (柯文雄), a plant pathologist at the university, advised farmers to pick all the infested coffee berries off before harvest, and to cook them at high temperatures to exterminate the pests.

He said the process had to be followed because the beetles have a very high fertility rate and can lay up to 40 eggs in one life cycle, of which there are four cycles in any given year.

If not well treated, the coffee beans can lose their commercial value within a short time, he added.

Figures from the Agriculture and Food Agency show that 874 hectares of coffee beans are under cultivation nationally, with an annual production of about 813 tonnes.

Additional reporting by Chen Feng-li and Hung Su-ching



10 Things You Need to Know About Coffee by LiveScience

Nectar of the Gods or Poison?

Coffee is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages, yet it’s effects are still debated. Scientists and epicurians have long made claims about this fragrant brew. Will it kill you or make you live longer? What makes the perfect cup? Is decaf really decaf? And who enjoyed the first cup of java?

1. Caffeine Can Kill You

But you’d have to drink 80 to 100 cups in a hurry, health experts say. We advise not trying.

2. Coffee Can Be Good For You

A study shows that Americans get most of their antioxidants from their daily fix of java. One to two cups a day appear to be beneficial. Or, if you don’t like coffee, try black tea, the second most consumed antioxidant source. Bananas, dry beans, and corn wrap up the top five.

3. Caffeine Might Boost Female Sex Drive

It worked on rats anyway. But researchers say in humans, coffee might enhance the sexual experience only among people who are not habitual users.

4. Caffeine Might Cut Pain

Moderate doses of caffeine — the equivalent of two cups of coffee— can cut post-gym muscle pain, a small study found. But the research was done on people who were not regular coffee drinkers.

5. Caffeine Can Indeed Keep You Up at Night

Health experts advise avoiding it for 6 hours before bedtime.

6. Decaf Coffee Has Caffeine!

If you drink five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, you could get as much caffeine as from one or two cups of caffeinated coffee, a study found.

7. Decaffeination Uses Chemicals

Beans are steamed, so that dissolved caffeine rises to the surface, where it is washed off using an organic solvent called methylene chloride.

8. Caffeine Is Not The Bitter Culprit

Caffeine is not the main bitter compound in coffee. Rather, the pungent perpetrators are antioxidants.

9. Great Coffee Depends on Roasting and Brewing

When it comes to great flavor, coffee chemistry boils down to roasting and brewing. During roasting, oil locked inside the beans begins to emerge at around 400 degrees. The more oil, the stronger the flavor. Caffeine content goes up as the water spends more time in contact with the grounds, so regular coffee often has more of it than espresso or cappuccino. Darker roasts also yield more caffeine.

10. Coffee Was Discovered by Goats

A millennium ago on a mountainside in Africa, a herd of goats kept a shepherd up at night after feasting on red coffee berries. The shepherd took his animals’ discovery to some monks, and very long prayer sessions ensued. It’s a good story, anyway.


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If you just about to start working out, rebounding is a good overall body workout that will not cause any pain or injuries. Such set back can make you lose interest in exercising quite fast. If you are currently engage in walking, running, cycling or any other fitness regimes that do not involve any form of jumping, incorporate this low impact but exhilarating exercise to boost your holistic health. Although you do need to buy a good quality rebounder, it is a lifelong investment, not only you’ll ensure your safety while exercising, you are doing your whole body a favor of making it hale and hearty.

Jumping ropes, jumping jacks, burpees and rebounding all require leaping movements but what makes rebounding extra special? What makes it able to offer us 30 health benefits while we are having fun bouncing away on a rebounder? First of all, just like we’ve mentioned earlier, rebounding is a low impact exercise, safe for joints, soft tissue and bones.  It will not cause any unnecessary pressure especially on our lower extremities; on our ankles and knee joints and legs every time we land, allowing us to exercise longer and frequently. NASA researchers have proven this workout helps build bone mass, even reverse damage cause by osteoporosis, so people with arthritis and back problem may gain benefit from rebounding too.

When we bounce, we are experiencing constant acceleration, deceleration and gravity changes. Coupled with the fact that rebounding is actually an aerobic activity, more oxygen is supplied throughout the body; we are actually strengthening each and every cell in our body. Waste products from cellular metabolic activities, fat, dead cells, heavy metals and chemicals are purged and oxygen and nutrients are flooded into our cells.

We all know 57 to 60 percent of our body is water, with lymphatic fluid outnumbered blood in volume. However, unlike blood, lymphatic system does not have any central pump. It relies on peristalsis and millions of one-way valves to circulate. The bouncing movement combines with the ever-changing state of weightlessness helps to open and close the valves simultaneously, allowing the lymphatic fluid to circulate around our body about 15 to 30 times faster, improving detoxification process and haul much-needed nutrients to all cells faster. Since lymphatic system ties with our immune system, it simultaneously strengthened our defense mechanism too. A few people with allergies claimed their problems disappear or eases after rebounding for more than a few months.

Our cardiovascular and respiratory systems gain a lot of benefit with this physical exercise. We remain upright every time we go from acceleration to deceleration, zero gravity (0G) to 2G. We also use less energy and oxygen when going through the up and down motions and this lessens the stress on our heart. Overtime, it gradually lowers our resting heart rate whereby it toughened and improves the quality of our heart muscles. The functions and coordination of the systems improves too, as a matter of fact we are re-training our cells and re-setting our metabolism to work as efficiently as they did when we are younger.

Rebounding can also help to boost our strength, stamina, muscular development, balance, coordination and even flexibility. Amazing feat considering it is not a strenuous physical activity yet it offers more benefits than any high impact workouts can. Rebounding helps us to generate energy and physically rejuvenate us. That means we are not leaping on the rebounder only when we are full of energy, but bounce away because we want more energy. Landing on and leaping off the flexible surface of the rebounder meanwhile stimulate our body’s balancing mechanism, coordination between the proprioceptors in the limbs and nerve impulse transmission to and from brains and muscles fibers, thus helps us to improve our equilibrium and coordination.

Here are the list 30 health benefits of rebounding workout, as studied by Dr. Morton Walker:

  1. It increases the capacity for respiration.
  2. It circulates more oxygen to the tissues.
  3. It establishes a better equilibrium between the oxygen required by the tissues and the oxygen made available.
  4. It causes muscles to perform work in moving fluids through the body to lighten the heart’s load.
  5. It tends to reduce the height to which the arterial pressures rise during exertion.
  6. It lessens the time during which blood pressure remains abnormal after severe activity.
  7. It holds off the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
  8. It increases the functional activity of the red bone marrow in the production of red blood cells.
  9. It aids lymphatic circulation, as well as the flow in the veins of the circulatory system.
  10. It encourages collateral circulation.
  11. It strengthens the heart and other muscles in the body so that they work more efficiently.
  12. It allows the resting heart to beat less often.
  13. It lowers elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  14. It stimulates the metabolism.
  15. It promotes body growth and repair.
  16. It tones up the glandular system, especially the thyroid to increase its output.
  17. It adds to the alkaline reserve of the body which may be of significance in an emergency requiring prolonged effort.
  18. It chemically attains absolute potential of the cells.
  19. It reserves bodily strength and physical efficiency.
  20. It expands the body’s capacity for fuel storage and endurance.
  21. It improves coordination through the transmission of nerve impulses and responsiveness of the muscle fibers.
  22. It affords muscular vigor from increased muscle fiber tone.
  23. It offers relief from neck and back pains, headaches, and other pain caused by lack of exercise.
  24. It enhances digestion and elimination processes.
  25. It allows for better and easier relaxation and sleep.
  26. It results in a better mental performance, with keener learning processes.
  27. It curtails fatigue and menstrual discomfort for women.
  28. It minimizes the number of colds, allergies, digestive disturbances, and abdominal problems.
  29. It tends to slow down aging.
  30. It reduces the likelihood of obesity.

Before starting this physical activity please refer your personal physician as rebounding can cause prolapsed organs on older people, so you might need to start slowly and gradually. We always believe in prevention is better than cure and this exercise should be a leap for health and happiness, not the other way around.


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Health Understood, access 31 December, 2013

Rebound, access 28 December, 2013

Healing Daily, access 28 December, 2013

Inspirations Personal Training, access 31 December, 2013

Dr. Morton Walker, access 31 December, 2013


Chlorogenic Acid and Its Derivatives in Coffee

Although there are a host of organic acids found in coffee – and a variety of factors, such as brew temperature and grind size, affect these acids – the chlorogenic acids and their roasting derivatives, the caffeic and quinic acids, stand out.

What are these acids, and how do they play a definitive role in the coffee we drink?

Coffee Chemistry: Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic acid (CGA) is a combination ester and acid derived from two acids: caffeic acid and quinic acid. These two acids each contain not only an acid group, but alcohol groups as well. A carbon atom plus two oxygen atoms and a hydrogen atom makes up the carboxylic acid group – we often write this as -COOH or -CO₂H.

An alcohol group consists of an oxygen and a hydrogen atom bonded to a carbon atom, and is written -C-OH.

When the acid group of the caffeic acid forms an ester (esterifies) with one of the alcohol groups of the quinic acid, it forms chlorogenic acid. The ester linkage is written -COO-, and is formed by the reaction –COOH + HO-  →  -COO- + H₂O.

Although the caffeic acid loses its acid group, the quinic acid maintains its acid group, but also loses a hydrogen atom from one of its alcohol groups. That is why we can call chlorogenic acid an ester-acid.

Roasting and Chlorogenic Acid

Since roasting slowly decomposes chlorogenic acid and quinic acid, it affects the coffee’s flavor and acidity of the coffee. Since these acids are antioxidants, these changes affect the coffee’s health benefits as well. Note that chlorogenic acid is only one of many carboxylic acids found in coffee beans. Among the many others are lactic, pyruvic, citric, malic, linoleic, palmitic, formic, propanoic, oxalic and succinic acids.

What makes coffee bitter? The caffeic acid in coffee is responsible for the bitterness we associate with this popular morning drink. Quinic acid, on the other hand, is the primary cause of a coffee’s acidity and astringency.

Alcohol Groups in Coffee: Three-Dimensional Structures

You may notice that the various alcohol groups drawn in the chemical composition images, such as this illustration of Chlorogenic Acid to the left, have straight and dashed lines – and even dark triangular-looking lines. What do these lines mean?

Imagine the formula is written on a sheet of paper. The dashed lines mean the -OH groups lie below the plane of the paper. The straight lines mean the bonds lie in the plane of the paper. The dark triangular lines rise up and out of the plane of the paper.

Caffeic Acid and Coffee

Most organic molecules possess considerable three-dimensional structure. The only one that does not (compared to the others) is the caffeic acid molecule. The caffeic acid molecule lies mostly within the plane of the paper – it is a relatively flat molecule, even in robust coffee.



Coffee Research. Coffee. Accessed on December 29, 2013

Trugo, L.C., et al. A study of the effect of roasting on the chlorogenic acid composition of coffee using HPLC. (1984). Food Chemistry. Accessed on December 29, 2013

Pohl, P., et al. Determination of the Elemental Composition of Coffee Using Instrumental Methods. (2013). Food Analytical Methods. Accessed on December 29, 2013

Scientists Take On Coffee-Loving Pests

A freshly brewed cuppa joe quickens the step and sets the mind a-glow. But that singular taste sensation is at risk because of a pinhead-sized beetle. Affecting coffee plants throughout the world, the coffee berry borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei) destroys $500 million in crop yield annually when it burrows into coffee beans and lays eggs. In Columbia, the world’s second biggest supplier of Arabica beans after Brazil, the problem is especially acute.

To help Cenicafe, Columbia’s national coffee institute, devise a strategy to deal with the coffee-loving pests, Cornell University researcherJocelyn Rose shared results from his research on how fruits soften. For that work, he and his colleagues developed gene sequencing, bioinformatics, and modeling tools to study the tomato secretome, an important component of the plant genome that contributes to processes ranging from fruit softening to disease resistance.

The same tools helped Rose and Cenicafe researchers identify a gene within the coffee beetle genome that encodes an enzyme called mannanase, which can digest the storage carbohydrates of coffee beans. What’s unusual about the discovery is the mannanase gene appears to have originated from bacteria. This suggests that gene transfer occurred between non-similar organisms — from a bacterium to an animal.

“Finding the sequence was a surprise because a mannanase gene hadn’t been found in an insect before,” says Rose. “Although it was present in the beetle genome, the sequence had several hallmarks of a bacterial gene.”

Non-sexual DNA movement between different species, termed horizontal gene transfer (HGT), is common among bacteria, but was previously considered rare between bacteria and eukaryotes (complex, multi-cellular organisms). However, Rose says “such transfer of genes is likely to be more common that we think.”

In the case of the coffee beetle, HGT may result from evolutionary adaptation. The large-scale cultivation of a single crop such as coffee likely puts “huge pressure on organisms to adapt to the niche,” says Rose. “Any minor opportunity is seized upon.” For the beetle, the bacterial gene allows it to survive in a coffee-only environment.

During their studies, the researchers also identified genetic elements called transposons, or jumping genes, on either side of the transferred mannanase gene. Jumping genes move from one location in the genome to another and may, according to the researchers, have assisted in the transfer process.


Coffee break on Hainan Island


The locals in Hainan province brew coffee in big iron kettles and drain it through cotton fabric or iron filters. [Photo: China Daily]
In a land famous for its tea, Hainan island has a history of coffee which its residents claim tastes of earth, wind and fire. Mao Pengfei from China Features takes a sip.

In the 1960s, when China’s economy was strictly centrally planned, Hainan’s thousands of hectares of coffee orchards were State owned. No one could pick coffee cherries without permission – except the birds.

The birds ate the best coffee berries and their droppings would contain coffee beans, which Liang Dingwei’s uncle was happy to collect from the ground.

Those beans were rare in a time without free markets. They were washed, peeled, dried, roasted, ground and made into coffee that Liang can’t forget.

“Its fragrance was irresistible, but this kind of coffee is nowhere to be found today,” says 53-year-old Liang, president of the Coffee Company of Xinglong Overseas Chinese Farm, which was founded in 1952 and claims to be China’s first State-owned coffee plant.

“No one has to collect beans from bird’s droppings for a cup of coffee anymore. We can buy coffee anytime, as it has become a part of our life,” he says.

Fushan: Taste of earth, wind and fire

Hainan coffee, as the locals say, tastes of earth, wind and fire. The secret lies in the local environment and processing methods that have been passed down through generations.

Coffee arrived in Hainan in 1935 when Indonesian-Chinese Chen Xianzhang introduced robusta coffee to the Fushan area of Chengmai county.

With a latitude of 19 degrees north, Fushan has an annual average temperature of 23 C, sufficient sun, abundant rain and a red earth rich in minerals from volcanic ash, just like Hawaii, where kona coffee grows.

The robusta thrived in this environment, evolving into a coffee with a unique fragrance.

“We select the best local beans and process them in the traditional way. That’s why it tastes so special,” says Xu Xiang, manager of the Fushan Coffee’s flagship shop in Fushan town.

Traditional processing methods introduced from Southeast Asia by returned overseas Chinese require coffee beans to be naturally dried on the ground, roasted with butter and sugar, and ground in a stone mill.

Xu, 41, still remembers how she and her five siblings and their parents roasted coffee beans when she was young.

“We set up big pots on the stoves. My elder sister and I kept turning the beans in the pots with shovels. My father would take a handful of beans and smell them from time to time and ask other children to add butter and brew syrup. When he felt the beans were ready, we put them into the syrup and fried them until they turned black and shiny.”

The syrup seals in the fragrance of the wood-fired fried coffee beans, which is the secret of the sweet aftertaste.

Modern, Western-style coffee machines are too complicated and delicate to capture the flavor. The locals brew the coffee in big iron kettles and drain it through cotton fabric or iron filters.

A-lan has been working in the flagship Fushan Coffee shop for six years, and specializes in brewing coffee.

She puts the ground coffee into a big pot of boiling water, stirs and waits until the aroma seeps out. Usually this process takes less than a minute. She scoops the golden brown coffee into a pot where it settles like silk.

“Perfect,” she says as she lifts the pot, sets up the filter and pours the freshly brewed coffee into a white china coffee pot.

Hainan coffee can be enjoyed with sugar or condensed milk, but the locals recommend it black with its fresh and earthy body. The last sip from the bottom of the cup can tantalize the taste buds with the flavor of earth, wind and fire.

David Mino, a member of Specialty Coffee Association of America, visited Hainan for a barista competition in June and was amazed at how coffee had become a local beverage in a country famous for tea.

“Hainan coffee is like the classic espresso, but stronger. Every true coffee lover should not miss it,” Mino says.

Xinglong: Coffee in the blood

Long before Starbucks swept the world, people in Hainan were starting the day with a cup of coffee – not in coffee houses, but at street stalls, while eating fried rice noodles or steamed buns.

Since the 1950s more than 13,000 overseas Chinese from 21 different countries and regions have relocated to the region, introducing coffee customs and farming in Xinglong, a southeastern town of Hainan.

“We grew up with coffee, and it’s in our blood,” says Liang Dingwei. “Xinglong coffee is full bodied, with a soft and sweet finish. You don’t even need milk.”

Since China’s reform and opening-up in the 1980s, coffee has been available in all the markets. Unlike the fancy cafes of Beijing and Shanghai, where one cup can cost 30 yuan ($4.95), coffee has never been a luxury in Hainan.

“It’s our daily drink,” says Wu Chunguang, 34, who runs the small restaurant Waxili in Xinglong, where fresh coffee costing only 3 yuan is always the most popular item on the menu.

The aroma of coffee drifts across this small town every morning.

Thousands of miles away from the busy metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai, life here is full of ease and leisure. The locals love to gather with friends and chat over coffee after work.

Wu’s father spent some time living in Indonesia, so Southeast Asian-style snacks are offered to complement the coffee.

“Coffee jelly is the best seller. Pumpkin cakes and tapioca cakes are also popular. I make them myself every morning from the recipe I learned from my father,” Wu says. “The secret is the coconut cream. It’s all homemade.”

Most guests are locals, but travelers are increasingly stopping by to sit in wooden armchairs under a tree, and while away the day with the aroma of coffee wafting on the breeze and sunshine slanting through the leaves.



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