Wasco de Gama, the great seaman invented the sea route towards south India in about 1200 AD. Thereby Sri Lanka (then Ceylan, Seylan, Thaprobane, etc.) also was linked to the Silk Road at that moment. The Arabs who came along this course introduced Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica . L) into Sri Lanka. And in about 1658 the Dutch who held the authority over the maritime region of Sri Lanka began to cultivate the Arabica Coffee commercially. Afterward, in 1815 the British invaded the whole island and apprehended their authority over the country. Later on, they had developed a taste for coffee cultivation with the growing potential of the coffee market in Europe. The first coffee plantation was set up by Sir Edward Barnes (later became the governor) in 1823 at Sinhayapitiya, in the Gampola area. When towards the end of 1847 coffee plantation acreage was around 276,000 acres. In 1870, Ceylon with the Ceylon Coffee brand was the world’s largest producer of coffee, exporting over a million hundredweights (about 50,000 mt) annually. Unfortunately, in 1886 the Ceylon coffee industry was for all practical purposes dead with a fungal leaf disease called Leaf Rust. Shortly, the world-reputed Ceylon Coffee brand was replaced with Ceylon Tea. With the devastation, residual Arabica Coffee was confined to the Kandyan Forest Gardens (KFG). KFG, an analog forest to Tropical Rain Forest is man-made but naturalized over generations. This Agro-Forestry system is essentially organic since no agrochemicals are used and no maintenance at all. The coffee grown under this system has intrinsic quality. Because, it occurs in different geography as well as experiences unusual microclimates (Wind, Mist, Sunlight, Rain, Temperature, Humidity and Soils conditions, etc,) changes perpetually. Therefore, Coffee growing around 1000m elevation with tropical climate carries unique flavours and aromas that are so greater than any others in the world.
In 2006 Japan fair Trade Committee (JFTC), a leading coffee business group in Japan visited Sri Lanka and identified the potential of regaining of Sri Lankan Arabica Coffee industry hidden in history. Thereafter, with the collaborative support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), JFTC and Department of Export Agriculture – Sri Lanka (DEA) launched a coffee development project in 2007 based on the central hill of the country. Consequently, JFTC created an opportunity to sell this quality coffee in the Japanese market. In this course JFTC vision was
“Fair Price for Coffee & Good Life for Farmers and to make Consumers happy with superior rare quality coffee”.
Since 2008 Japanese coffee lovers luckily have been enjoying that miraculous taste hidden in history for the first time in the world.
Sri Lanka was the world’s pioneer among Arabica Coffee producers a century ago. However, in about the 1880s, this industry was disappeared with the natural outbreak. However, the taste hidden in the hearts of our grandparents descended over generations and even for today coffee lovers. Mr. Kazuyuki Kiyota, a Japanese veteran who represents the Japan Fair Trade Committee (JFTC) a leading Coffee establishment in Japan, smells the history and reestablished the vanished asset with the support of the Sri Lankan Coffee community, Sri Lankan Government, Japanese Coffee consumers, and the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA). Today KIYOTA is the other name for lost Ceylon Coffee in the time. Nevertheless, now KIYOTA is community work. It appears on behalf of odour of the farming community, and taste for coffee lovers as well as to protect nature.
Why Kiyota Coffee
Mr. Nalin Priyantha, Managing Director of Kiyota Coffee Company, met Mr. Kiyota and his family in the year 2012 in Sri Lanka. Mr. Kiyota was impressed by the community activities done by Mr. Nalin for the development of the Ceylon Coffee Industry. At that time Mr. Nalin was the sole proprietor, collecting coffee in the central region of Sri Lanka. Mr. Nalin has been developing his own coffee farmer groups in order to get the best coffee beans from the Arabica coffee variety.
After seeing the growth and the community service done by Mr. Nalin was appreciated by Mr. Kiyota by giving his old coffee roasting machine which he used in Japan for his coffee roasting. That was a genuine gesture shown by Mr Kiyota to Mr Nalin and Ceylon Coffee Industry.
To return the favour and gratitude, Mr Nalin registered his business as a private limited company naming it ” Kiyota Coffee” in the same year which will be there even without Mr Kiyoa showing the gratitude for Mr Kiyota for the Ceylon Coffee Industry.