Chris Calkins is the coffee farmer behind Quail Haven Farm in Leucadia. He started growing coffee plants in Leucadia in 2014 as an experiment with his supplier, Frinj. So far, he’s produced 4,000 pounds of coffee beans which equates to about 150-200 pounds of finished coffee.
“Coffee surprisingly likes moderate temperatures. They don’t like a lot of sun. They actually get sun burned.”Chris Calkins, Owner of Quail Haven Farm
At 400 feet above sea level, and with the Leucadian ocean breeze, Chris thinks coffee farms can fit the profile of San Diego farming thanks to its climate and soil, that allows for good drainage.
“This is an experiment for all of us. Coffee had never been grown here until about 5-6 years ago when we started. We believe it fits the profile of San Diego farming. San Diego has had a lot of boutique farming, unique crops and a unique place. It has an all-year temperature profile that allows growing to continue. It’s moderate so you don’t end up with either deep freezes or extensive heat. Despite that, you still have to watch heat here. And, the soils, while they’re not really rich in organics, which is something you would typically look for, they do have a sandy lomb that allows for good drainage. Like all the other plants that have grown in North County, we think coffee will do well here and so far the results have been very good,” said Calkins.
At the moment, Chris’ coffee is only available on Frinj’s website. A 5-ounce bag of this premium, local coffee will cost you $50. Chris hopes consumers will be interested in tasting what local farmers are brewing.
“If we’re successful, we’ll have a large enough production in this area to sustain the local processing and ultimately being able to distribute locally as well as selling nationally and internationally. I think it’s a question about whether we have enough production so that the pricing for retail coffee can get down to a place where people feel comfortable buying it as a regular cup versus just a premium brand,” said Calkins.