Could Nelson become a hub of high end coffee production exporting to the world? Charles Anderson meets the man known as the plant whisperer who thinks it could be the region’s next big thing.
The plant whisperer killed his babies. He had grown them up from seeds, nurturing them until they were full, bold, green and shiny. Greg Lupton’s arabica coffee plants were beautiful things. But they were also weak. So, slowly he dropped the temperature.
There were 1000 of them to begin with but as the temperature fell the plants started to die. At 16 degrees, then at 14, more and more were killed off. From that original 1000 he was left with only 10. From that number he chose one. It was the strongest. It was the best. It was the one he would rely on to try and create an industry in Nelson. Because while arabica, the world’s most popular coffee variety, is common in the lush forests of East Africa and jungles of South East Asia, Lupton believes they are also, thanks to him, perfectly adapted to the climates of the top of the South Island.