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from Kerri & Miles

The View

Categories: 2013, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The other day I was at Café Luna, our local café here on the island, and they were work­ing through their rush with one of their steam wands bro­ken on their La Marzocco. The steam valve was stripped.

They were wait­ing for Pat from Visions, one of the great equip­ment and small­wares com­pa­nies here in the Northwest, to come in. Confidence was high and cor­rectly so. Soon they were up and steam­ing away – busi­ness as usual.

I thought of Brian Conroy from EspressoMe that ser­vices our machine at the office. He lives in Vancouver, Washington, yet he and his staff ser­vice the entire Pacific Northwest. Let’s face it, Vashon Island is not the eas­i­est place to get to and it is about three hours from Vancouver. Still, Brian cheer­fully comes bar­rel­ing up I-5 to make sure that our Franke keeps putting out the espresso. He braves ram­pag­ing deer, mas­sive snow in the passes, late night fer­ries, traf­fic acci­dents, and just gen­eral road may­hem to make sure that we don’t go a minute longer with­out the best pos­si­ble cof­fee. If this is pos­si­ble, I believe that Brian is more pas­sion­ate about cof­fee than us.

As far as I can tell, Brian and the hun­dreds of oth­ers who keep our café and roaster equip­ment work­ing at peak effi­ciency must live in their trucks log­ging thou­sands of hours every year.

Marty Curtis, gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the best wiz­ard of roast­ers, trav­els to all parts of the globe either repair­ing and installing roast­ers or instruct­ing Q-Grader cer­ti­fi­ca­tion courses. He rarely is at home. Nine times out of ten, when I call Marty I end up get­ting him at 3am in some hotel in Indonesia or Ethiopia. Still, “No Problem, what can I do for you, man?”

As an indus­try, we don’t think much about this part of our world. After all, you usu­ally do not buy a new piece of expen­sive equip­ment with the first thought in your head – “Who is going to fix this thing?” (Although you should) The ser­vice side of our busi­ness is typ­i­cally invis­i­ble and unrecognized.

Still, these men and women go about their busi­ness cheer­fully and pos­i­tively, always look­ing to reas­sure and com­fort their cus­tomers. Often mis­un­der­stood and blamed for prob­lems, these folks are more psych coun­selors than tradesmen.

It reminds me of the guy who works on my sep­tic sys­tem – when I need him, I REALLY NEED HIM! The first thing out of his mouth bet­ter be reas­sur­ing or I am going to go right over the edge.

Quite often, the folks on the ser­vice side of café and roaster oper­a­tions are the most knowl­edge­able peo­ple about cof­fee that we get to talk to fre­quently. They bring news about inno­va­tions and other peo­ples expe­ri­ences; they pro­vide staff train­ing on ser­vice, prepa­ra­tion, and clean­li­ness: they bring the most recent gos­sip; and all this as they quickly get us back on-line serv­ing cof­fee and keep­ing the cash reg­is­ter ring­ing. They are the mod­ern ver­sion of the trav­el­ling tin­ker; they show up at your door to ‘fix’ things for the better.

They help us keep our recipes con­sis­tent, keep com­pli­ance with indus­try stan­dards, and keep us in cal­i­bra­tion. After our cus­tomers, they may be one of the most impor­tant peo­ple in our busi­nesses. Why do they get so lit­tle love? I sus­pect it has more to do with our own des­per­a­tion and fear.

So here is a thought, if any­one should have a guild it should be the ser­vice providers. It truly is a trade group that is engaged in con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion, tech­ni­cal stan­dards, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment, and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Wouldn’t our indus­try be well served by pro­fes­sion­ally cer­ti­fied trades peo­ple that add a layer of con­fi­dence to our operations?

I am sure that the equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers would ben­e­fit from a broader access to ser­vice groups at events, the indus­try would ben­e­fit from broader train­ing and con­sis­tency, and the ser­vice providers would ben­e­fit from a tra­di­tional guild career devel­op­ment sys­tem. Besides, they just don’t get as much respect as they deserve.

Just say­ing.

Kerri & Miles

Enhancing Food Security for Coffee Producers

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
25 mil­lion peo­ple depend on cof­fee cul­ti­va­tion for their liveli­hoods around the world. The nature of cof­fee pro­duc­tion, how­ever, often con­sists of a once a year har­vest for which farm­ers are paid for their labor, leav­ing many strug­gling to make ends meet for sev­eral months out of the year.  In too many cases, fam­i­lies do not have enough to eat and chil­dren go to bed hun­gry. These are known as “the thin months.”

At Mercy Corps, we are work­ing closely with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. and other part­ners to fight sea­sonal hunger and poverty in the cof­fee­lands. Like all Mercy Corps pro­grams, our projects are community-led and market-driven, rec­og­niz­ing the unique con­texts of each com­mu­nity we work in.

The causes of food inse­cu­rity and poverty among cof­fee farm­ers around the world are as diverse as the beans they grow. A com­mu­nity of farm­ers in Indonesia might need mater­nal and child health sup­port, while a Nicaraguan cof­fee pro­duc­ing fam­ily may need tech­ni­cal advice to increase pro­duc­tion or help diver­sify crops.

In Colombia, our Land and Opportunity in Tolima (LOT) pro­gram is help­ing 1,300 cof­fee pro­duc­ing fam­i­lies secure land own­er­ship as well as pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able use of resources through train­ing in land man­age­ment, farm­ing, and fam­ily gar­dens. Land own­er­ship means that famers can access the finan­cial ser­vices they need to invest in their land, lead­ing to increased pro­duc­tion, qual­ity, and income.

In Indonesia, our Community Health and Investment for Livelihoods Initiative (CHILI) is pro­vid­ing finan­cial lit­er­acy train­ing, pro­mot­ing sav­ing habits, and access­ing credit to 3,000 farm­ers. Farmers now have the resources they need to cre­ate and fol­low a bud­get and access credit for pur­chas­ing inputs like seeds and equip­ment. This helps farm­ers to help them­selves out of poverty. The mater­nal and child health com­po­nent of this pro­gram has estab­lished mother sup­port groups where moth­ers meet to share and learn from one another, with a spe­cific focus on pro­mot­ing breastfeeding.

We are work­ing in Guatemala with USAID and other part­ners to pro­vide train­ing ses­sions for farm­ers based around top­ics like the safe han­dling of pes­ti­cides and water and soil con­ser­va­tion. The Innovative Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE) project is help­ing rural farm­ers gain the skills to access larger com­mer­cial mar­kets for their pro­duce. In the first three years of the IMARE pro­gram, farm­ers increased their net earn­ings by 59 per­cent and boosted their sales to for­mal mar­kets by $1.2 million.

Mercy Corps is also part­ner­ing with the Coffeelands Food Security Coalition, which is com­posed of six cof­fee com­pa­nies includ­ing: Counter Culture, Farmer Brothers, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., S&D Coffee, Starbucks, and Sustainable Harvest; along with the Specialty Coffee Association of America— com­mit­ted to address­ing sea­sonal hunger and poverty in the cof­fee­lands. We have teamed up with the Coalition and Association Aldea Global Jinotega on our Empowering Food Secure Communities pro­gram in Nicaragua. We are work­ing with 900 peo­ple to improve farm­ing and busi­ness tech­niques, develop diver­si­fied sources of income by encour­ag­ing the cul­ti­va­tion of home gar­dens and diver­si­fied crop pro­duc­tion, and engag­ing local gov­ern­ments in pro­vid­ing assis­tance to vul­ner­a­ble families.

Photo: Ken deLasky for Mercy Corps Two girls involved in the Inclusive Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE) project  around Coban, Guatemala.

Photo: Ken deLasky for Mercy Corps
Two girls involved in the Inclusive Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE) project
around Coban, Guatemala.

Who Benefits from this project?
At Mercy Corps, we work in the tough­est places around the world to turn crises into oppor­tu­nity. The ben­e­fi­cia­ries from our food secu­rity projects are often the most vul­ner­a­ble coffee-producing fam­i­lies suf­fer­ing from food inse­cu­rity. In the areas that we work in Colombia, for exam­ple, over half of the pop­u­la­tion lives in poverty while food inse­cu­rity affects 70 per­cent of the rural pop­u­la­tion. Our pro­grams tar­get his­tor­i­cally mar­gin­al­ized groups, includ­ing the land­less, women, and young peo­ple. Food inse­cu­rity affects men, women, girls, and boys dif­fer­ently. We seek to under­stand the con­nec­tions between gen­der, poverty, and hunger; and we work to ensure that pro­gram design and imple­men­ta­tion are gen­der sensitive.

Here is the story of one woman we work with in Indonesia, in her own words:
“I was in my sec­ond preg­nancy, and every month I was checked by the mid­wife in my vil­lage. She invited me to join the Mother Support Group held in my vil­lage. I joined the group when my preg­nancy was six months along and I was happy to get more infor­ma­tion about exclu­sive breast­feed­ing and the health ben­e­fits. My first baby wasn’t exclu­sively breast­fed (only breast­fed for three months) and my baby was often ill and I didn’t know why. I have applied all the infor­ma­tion I gained in the group and my hus­band also sup­ports my deci­sion to pro­vide exclu­sive breast­feed­ing to my sec­ond baby. I encour­age other moth­ers to do the same and to get involved. The group also teaches other health related topics.”

How Can I Help?
Mercy Corps relies on the sup­port of indi­vid­u­als, foun­da­tions, and cor­po­ra­tions to make our work in the cof­fee­lands pos­si­ble. Visit www.mercycorps.org/ways-to-help to learn more about how you can help. To learn more about the Coffeelands Food Security Coalition, visit www.mercycorps.org/tags/coffeelands

Contact Name:     Britt Rosenberg
Website:     www.mercycorps.org
Location:     Portland/Oregon/USA
Email Address:     brosenberg@mercycorps.org
Phone Number:     503.896.5863

Coffee Corps

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

IMGP0676Project Description
The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) cre­ated Coffee Corps in 2003 when it was awarded two sep­a­rate grants from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Coffee Corps, a volunteer-based pro­gram, pro­vides tech­ni­cal assis­tance to grow­ers, asso­ci­a­tions, and stake­hold­ers through­out the cof­fee value chain by match­ing indus­try experts to spe­cific projects. CQI’s Executive Director David Roche has a back­ground in cof­fee agron­omy and pro­duc­tion, and his exper­tise in this field has pro­vided increased clar­ity and impact at the farm level: an area that is con­sis­tently under­served in the indus­try. This pro­gram is cur­rently active in all cof­fee grow­ing regions, includ­ing East Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Indonesia.

In the last ten years, Coffee Corps has sent over 350 vol­un­teers to over twenty cof­fee pro­duc­ing coun­tries, log­ging an impres­sive more than 25,000 vol­un­teer hours. Tens of thou­sands of pro­duc­ers have been able to under­stand more about qual­ity and earn higher prices for their cof­fee through var­i­ous work­shops and train­ing pro­grams. Just as impor­tantly, many importers, retail­ers, and roast­ers have devel­oped mean­ing­ful, long-term rela­tion­ships with pro­duc­ers. For many vol­un­teers, it serves as their first con­nec­tion to origin.

Michael Phillips, 2010 World Barista Champion and Coffee Corps vol­un­teer, com­ments, “I think one of the essen­tial things that CQI does is iden­tify a need, find the right peo­ple and put them in the right places. I would cer­tainly con­sider the time and effort I spent work­ing at these [barista] events to be some of the more valu­able and well received train­ings I’ve ever done. I don’t think you can cal­cu­late the value because the rip­ple effect is enormous.”

Currently, the Coffee Corps pro­gram includes an array of spe­cific tech­ni­cal assis­tance options, expand­ing the abil­ity to pro­vide request-based sup­port more effi­ciently. Assistance and tech­ni­cal train­ing includes expert con­sul­ta­tion in many areas, includ­ing agron­omy and pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing, roast­ing, cup­per train­ing, lab­o­ra­tory devel­op­ment, mar­ket­ing, barista train­ing, and ori­gin pro­fil­ing. This “à la carte” style menu has proven to be highly effec­tive and serves as a model that can be repli­cated by CQI’s ori­gin part­ners to expand their abil­ity to pro­vide need-based assis­tance. Coffee Corps con­tin­ues to remain a vital source of tech­ni­cal assis­tance for pro­duc­ing coun­tries and rela­tion­ship build­ing within the sup­ply chain, and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing this impor­tant work around the world.

How Can I Help?
We receive many appli­ca­tions from pro­duc­ers around the world in need of tech­ni­cal assis­tance. Unfortunately due to bud­getary restric­tions, we can­not sup­port all of them. Since CQI is a 501©3, all dona­tions are tax deductible and would directly sup­port improv­ing cof­fee qual­ity through tech­ni­cal assis­tance, capac­ity build­ing, cup­ping train­ing, lab­o­ra­tory devel­op­ment, and other sim­i­lar pro­grams. To make a dona­tion, please visit us at
www.coffeeinstitute.org.

Contact Name:     Alexandra Katona-Carroll
Web Site:     www.coffeeinstitute.org
Location:     Worldwide
Email Address:     akatona@coffeeinstitute.org
Phone Number:     562.901.3166

The View

Categories: 2013, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

This July, we once again make our mag­a­zine avail­able to NGO’s and non-profits to strut their stuff. Our “Making a Difference” issue is one of those times that we give over our audi­ence to those orga­ni­za­tions that are work­ing hard for all of our ben­e­fit to improve the qual­ity of life for folks across the coffeelands.

It seems like only a cou­ple of months ago that we last pub­lished the “Making a Difference” issue for 2012 and now once again, here it is. But really, so much has changed in our world that is mak­ing life more dif­fi­cult for smallholders:

1.    Climate Change – prob­a­bly no other dan­ger to grow­ers is more com­pelling. In this last year it has become appar­ent that the trop­ics have reached a tip­ping point in the advance of adverse climate.

a.    The Andean range is los­ing its snow pack at an alarm­ing pace as the aver­age tem­per­a­ture range rises and reaches into higher alti­tudes. Snowmelt is the lifeblood of the lush grow­ing areas of the east­ern slope of the Andes through­out Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

b.    The ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in the trop­ics are caus­ing shifts in the high alti­tude atmos­pheric rota­tion, which is pulling frigid air from the poles closer to the trop­ics. (Think Brazil, Tanzania, and Mexico)

c.    Another record hur­ri­cane sea­son is pred­i­cated in the Atlantic that not only will poten­tially cause increased dam­age to crops dur­ing the blos­som sea­son for cof­fee, but more impor­tantly, mas­sive destruc­tion of infra­struc­ture and heart­break­ing loss of life and liveli­hood in the trop­ics, as well as sig­nif­i­cant dis­rup­tion of ship­ping in the Gulf.

d.    The cyclonic mon­soon rains so pre­dictable in the past are now fiercer and more vari­able, miss­ing some parts of the world and drown­ing oth­ers. (Think India and ulti­mately Central America)

e.    The typhoon sea­son in the Pacific is shap­ing up to pound Indonesia, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia with the accom­pa­ny­ing mas­sive loss of life and infra­struc­ture. The com­ing typhoon sea­son is com­pounded with an El Niño that is pre­dicted to be neu­tral increas­ing rain­fall in the South Pacific and South China Sea (which may actu­ally be good news to the west­ern coasts of Latin America but not so good news for the Andean snowpack.)

f.    Continuing reduced mois­ture and ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in the Sub Sahara is not only threat­en­ing aver­age rain­fall lev­els in the high­lands of Ethiopia and Uganda but also water lev­els in the Great Rift Valley lakes. Food secu­rity is a rapidly grow­ing issue as pop­u­la­tions have lit­tle flex­i­bil­ity and resilience against sud­den crop loss and reduced fish stocks.

2.    La Roya (leaf rust) – chang­ing con­di­tions have facil­i­tated the rapid expan­sion of leaf rust through­out Central America dec­i­mat­ing the cur­rent crop and poten­tial future crops by weak­en­ing the cof­fee trees’ vital­ity. The poten­tial that the United State’s lead­ing cof­fee sup­ply­ing region may no longer be able to sup­port cof­fee grow­ing on a macro scale has become possible.

3.    The rapid con­sol­i­da­tion of cof­fee pro­duc­tion into four major sup­plier coun­tries threat­ens to shift the pri­or­i­ti­za­tion lesser sup­plier coun­tries place on cof­fee as an export prod­uct and instead focus on inter­nal con­sump­tion. This year four coun­tries (Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, and Indonesia) account for 67% of all the cof­fee exported this year. This grad­ual shift toward a small club of pro­duc­ing coun­tries is made more dra­matic when one con­sid­ers that the next six coun­tries on the list rep­re­sent 23% of the cof­fee exported this year – that is 90% of all the cof­fee pro­duced this year came from only 10 coun­tries! The poten­tial threat this poses to the inter­na­tional sup­ply chain can­not be over­stated. Political unrest, nat­ural dis­as­ter, infra­struc­ture col­lapse, food inse­cu­rity, and other poten­tial events can have an imme­di­ate neg­a­tive effect on both large and small grow­ers, and of course on the reli­a­bil­ity of the sup­ply chain.

So this year there is much to con­sider. The human cost of these and other poten­tial­i­ties is dra­matic and ter­ri­ble to con­sider. The orga­ni­za­tions both large and small that will present next month are on the front line of these and other causes. Please tune in next month to learn about their pur­poses and goals and if you are moved to action donate money or time (or both) toward them. They are the heart of our industry.

As in past years, the orga­ni­za­tion that has the most click-thrus from their arti­cle to their web­site will receive a $1000 cash dona­tion from CoffeeTalk Media so get clickin’.

Cheers,
Kerri & Miles

Sorrow. Anger. Inspiration.

Categories: 2013, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Rocky RhodesIf you are a reg­u­lar reader of CoffeeTalk, you will know that I get a pretty free reign to write about a topic that moves me in the cof­fee world. And usu­ally I try to find a topic that is not some­thing that every­one is talk­ing about and try to do it in a way that might make you think about some­thing new. This will not be the case for this arti­cle how­ever. I am going to write about some­thing that has affected every one of us deeply. I am of course refer­ring to the Boston bombings.

Before I con­tinue, please know that I am writ­ing this in the first per­son because these are MY opin­ions and may or may not reflect those of CoffeeTalk. But again, they are let­ting me write about what I think will move the cof­fee indus­try reader.

There was some­thing else going on in Boston that week­end other than the Marathon. It was of course SCAA’s ‘The Event’ and Symposium. If you were not there, shame on you! It was arguably one of the best con­fer­ences yet. My hats off to the SCAA for con­tin­u­ing to find new ways to engage its mem­ber­ship and pro­vide new and inter­est­ing lev­els to the industry.

Many of you expe­ri­ence the indus­try in the same way as me; The Event is a place where we not only come to learn and do some busi­ness, but a place where we get to see old friends, and dare I say extended fam­ily. At times it takes on a fra­ter­nal feel­ing that tends to deepen the con­nec­tion between us.  This indus­try is like no other in that we desire that every com­pany is suc­cess­ful and are more likely to help a com­peti­tor than see them fail. In the top end of the cof­fee mar­ket, which is where we oper­ate, we know that a ris­ing tide raises all ships.

Our ‘fam­ily’ extends to all ends of the earth. At this con­fer­ence there were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from dozens of coun­tries and every con­ti­nent. (Antarctica?) Anyway, our desire to help extends beyond the bor­ders of the United States and into every part of the world that either pro­duces or con­sumes cof­fee, and that is pretty much the whole darn globe.

Our fam­ily, along with every civ­i­lized human being, was attacked on Monday, April 15th, at the Boston Marathon. I was for­tu­nate enough to leave Boston on Sunday night, get­ting back to Los Angeles at about 1am Monday. I was euphor­i­cally exhausted from another great SCAA show. I went about my busi­ness on Monday until I got the news about the attack. Like most peo­ple, I had to stop for a sec­ond to try and make sense out of what was hap­pen­ing. Then the real­iza­tion hit me that a huge num­ber of my cof­fee fam­ily were still in Boston and some were going to the Marathon.

I started send­ing mes­sages to find out if every­one was ok. It took a while, but every­one I knew was there was accounted for and ok. There were a cou­ple of close calls. In par­tic­u­lar, I knew my Kenyan friend Mbula and my Vermont friend Rick were at the race and it turns out they were in prox­im­ity to the bombs. Close enough to hear and feel the explo­sions. When I knew every­one was ok, I fell to my knees and cried.  SORROW for all those dead, injured and traumatized.

After some griev­ing, I was flooded with an emo­tion that I do not enjoy, and don’t expe­ri­ence often; ANGER. I really wanted to lash out at what­ever M*th$rF@#er did this and get some blood. I real­ize that this is a nor­mal reac­tion, although prob­a­bly not the most healthy. But I was to my core will­ing to bring a lit­tle jus­tice down on some­body and I was not con­sid­er­ing the court sys­tem! This feel­ing lasted for a while but it gave way, as it usu­ally does, to the feel­ing of want­ing to do some­thing positive.

I made a deci­sion to chan­nel my neg­a­tive feel­ings into the most pow­er­ful ques­tion that I could think of at the time: “ What could I do to show that I will not be ter­ror­ized AND make a dif­fer­ence in the world so this might not hap­pen again.” You see, I believe in the whole ‘rip­ple effect’ the­ory. What was the peb­ble I could throw in the pond? When you ask pow­er­ful ques­tions, you get pow­er­ful answers. My INSPIRATION is this: I am going to run the marathon next year AND I am going to ask my cof­fee fam­ily to join me! I was so enthralled with my own bril­liance that I went out for a run. About ½ mile of wheez­ing later… I was com­mit­ted! I sent the word out to some friends and fam­ily and the response has been, well, aston­ish­ing! I have two peo­ple that have agreed to do it with me and sup­port from many others.

Now we fast for­ward to one week later. The two thugs are dead and cap­tured. (Thank you to all the agen­cies and cit­i­zens that made it pos­si­ble! Great work!) I am sit­ting in Colombia and even here we are ecsta­tic about the cap­ture of the sec­ond idiot. But some time has passed, and some impor­tant infor­ma­tion has come to light: Apparently you have to QUALIFY for the Boston marathon. There is a pretty strong chance that our newly formed team will not get invited to run. INSPIRATION num­ber 2 hit me! Have a “Coffee Marathon”.

Here is my work­ing plan in progress. We will have a run in Boston at the same time but we will start at a ‘Coffee Place’ and run to other cof­fee places along the way. People can join for all of the run, seg­ments of the run, or just party at one of the var­i­ous stops. This way the whole indus­try can get involved. Our fam­ily can stand tall and say we won’t be bul­lied by thugs! We can have a HUGE rip­ple effect as run­ners from Indonesia and Kenya and Colombia etc. join in this effort. Our indus­try can do what it does best: Lead by exam­ple and chal­lenge each other to do better.

So this is my open call to my cof­fee fam­ily: Join me in Boston in 2014 for a ‘Coffee Industry Caffeine-a-thon.’ (It’s a work­ing title). I will post more info on www.INTLcoffeeConsulting.com. If this story inspires you, send me an email. I would love to hear what you think!

I am already up to a mile!
Rocky can be reached at rocky@INTLcoffeeConsulting.com

& Fertilizer.">The Natural State of Coffee — A Contemplation of Grounds, Leaves & Fertilizer.

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 3-BI’m get­ting older. I paid $1.25 for a “nickel” Hershey Bar the other day. Things change. On the other hand, the $4.50 latte appears to be here to stay. Even in these hard times con­sumers, par­tic­u­larly the young, have deter­mined that they are will­ing to reach into their pock­ets for a bev­er­age that brings them joy. That too, is a har­bin­ger of good things to come for the roast­ing retailer and inde­pen­dent roaster, for our future is cheek-by-jowl linked to the con­sumers’ inter­est in the goods we make and sell. The econ­omy is still rough, and I keep find­ing myself remem­ber­ing my Dad talk­ing about the cof­fee busi­ness dur­ing the Great Depression when cof­fee sold for 25¢ a pound; 5¢ cup. The plain old nickel cup from the cor­ner news stand is now a buck. The Old Man would have found that funny.

A 36% decline in green cof­fee prices over the last 12 months has buoyed the spir­its of small inde­pen­dent roast­ers as the cost of raw goods has come back to earth, and accounts payables have come out of the stratos­phere to more man­age­able lev­els. As I write, the Exchange price for March 2013 is hov­er­ing at lev­els that most farm­ers and most roast­ers can accept as liv­able. The free flow of cash from inven­tory per­mits invest­ment in equip­ment, new prod­ucts, adver­tis­ing and per­son­nel that was unthink­able dur­ing the last 2 ½ years. It is a well-met asset thaw that bodes well for the future of the community.

There are new roast­ing busi­nesses in every nook and cranny of the coun­try. Recently an old cof­fee cur­mud­geon of my acquain­tance men­tioned that if you turn over a rock with your shoe there is a decent chance you will find a new roaster beneath it. There are many new entrants for sure, and this is a good and healthy thing. It indi­cates that there are folks who have the faith, nascent abil­ity, ded­i­ca­tion, and strength of pur­pose to make a place for them­selves in cof­fee. Where there is new blood, there is hope for the future of this stuff we love.

More and more tech­nol­ogy is creep­ing into the roast­ery. The roast­ing man is seen more and more often check­ing the progress of his roast on his iPad. Environmental man­age­ment of roast­ing bi-product appears to be taken seri­ously by a grow­ing num­ber of small roast­ers who have felt ambiva­lent in the past about the smoke, ash, and smells that are the byprod­uct of cof­fee roast­ing. This is as much a result of peer pres­sure, and con­sumer inter­ests as it is the result of munic­i­pal codes. It is good busi­ness to run a clean, envi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive busi­ness, and we are learn­ing that year-by-year, which is a good thing.

Espresso is an every­day thing in most parts of the USA now, and it is a rare roaster that does not blend and roast at least one item for espresso use. In an inter­est­ing devel­op­ment Robusta, shunned twenty years ago by any spe­cialty roaster worth his salt, has a grow­ing accep­tance now in Italian style espresso blends. Interestingly, the American style espres­sos are iden­ti­fied with pure Arabica blends. There was some talk a while back about the accep­tance of Robusta beans as spe­cialty cof­fee. That con­ver­sa­tion will con­tinue, and prob­a­bly get louder.

The mar­ket­ing of envi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­ity is seen in the choices many roast­ers are tak­ing in the way they present them­selves to their cus­tomers. Kraft paper and hand-crafted look­ing lam­i­nated valve bags and pack­ing mate­r­ial has grown in use, as it gives the impres­sion of cor­po­rate envi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­ity, small com­pany hand-crafted goods, and down-home neigh­bor­li­ness. Many of these efforts are suc­cess­ful. Sadly, few are more than window-dressing to improve the pub­lic accep­tance of goods offered for sale. Still, aware­ness of the public’s desire to seek out the goods of envi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive busi­nesses is a big step away from a cal­lus profit-driven inter­est and toward a higher plane of cof­fee consciousness.

The devel­op­ment of green cof­fee extract as an ingre­di­ent in food sup­ple­ments and bev­er­ages will be of con­tin­u­ing inter­est. This phe­nom­e­non of a weight loss ingre­di­ent hit the weight watch­ing scene back in April, when Dr. Oz intro­duced mil­lions of view­ers to it on his tele­vi­sion show. Green cof­fee bean extract, which seems to be pri­mar­ily chloro­genic acid and caf­feine, is now being mar­keted as a dietary sup­ple­ment by many food sup­ple­ment and nat­ural vit­a­min com­pa­nies. So far Starbucks is the only promi­nent roaster to have added cof­fee bean extract to its prod­uct mix. It is an ingre­di­ent in Starbucks’ new Refreshers bev­er­ages and in com­pli­men­tary VIA instant bev­er­age packets.

Roasters will be watch­ing more than their shades this com­ing year. Leaves are much on their minds also since Starbucks, owner of the Tazo tea brand since 1998, has opened a Tazo tea store in Seattle’s University Village shop­ping area. They fol­lowed this con­cept store with the announce­ment that Starbucks will acquire Teavana, Teavana’s 300 small shops spe­cial­ize in tea leafs, tea bev­er­ages, and tea acces­sories. The chain, sprin­kled in mostly mall loca­tions through­out much of the coun­try, expected to make $220–230 mil­lion dol­lars this fis­cal year. Nobody’s bet­ting like Mitt Romney on this, but my nickel is on Teavana out­lets becom­ing Tazo-branded stores before long. Some roast­ers have been offer­ing loose teas for years, while oth­ers offer only tea bags to their whole­sale cus­tomers. It is a fair guess that we are all going to be more inter­ested in teas of every type and descrip­tion in the com­ing year than we have been in the past year.

Among the rare and exotic items that may find its way into North American blends this year is Kopi Luwak, the ster­co­ra­ceous Indonesian cof­fee del­i­cacy that has been imi­tated in Peru and Vietnam after pro­duc­tion was juiced in recent years since being fea­tured in the 2007 film The Bucket List. The Indonesian item has taken a pub­lic rela­tions hit from the UK news­pa­per The Guardian, which reported on alle­ga­tions of ani­mal rights abuses at civet farms in Indonesia. Likewise, the Associated Press has made us aware of Thailand’s Black Ivory cof­fee (cul­ti­vated from ele­phant dung) that hits the fan this year. At $500 a pound, this exotic adds con­sid­er­ably to the avail­able vol­ume of this type of item which may put down­ward pres­sure on the pound price of this class of goods. I have not cupped Black Ivory, but I have pon­dered if it is good to the last dropping.

12_12 3-AAuthor and Roaster’s Guild founder, Donald Schoenholt, is said to have an unerr­ing sense of cof­fee, cof­fee his­tory, and cof­fee continuity—but no sense of humor. He will deny this. He believes he is quite droll. Mr. S., cel­e­brat­ing his 50th anniver­sary in cof­fee, can be found round the roast­ing room at
www.gilliescoffee.com.

For 2013, Quality is still the Key

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 15-A At the Coffee Quality Institute, we have expressed since 1996 that the best sus­tain­abil­ity project is one that improves and rewards qual­ity. It is just as true today as it was then. CQI con­tin­ues to build on over a decade of suc­cess in the pro­mo­tion and edu­ca­tion about qual­ity cof­fee. 2013 will be a record year for lives helped through our efforts.

Improving Quality Improves Lives!
When founded, CQI had a strong focus on the sci­ence of taste for­ma­tion and eval­u­a­tion of cof­fee. It was deter­mined that this sci­ence could be the most use­ful if the entire sup­ply chain spoke the same lan­guage and were cal­i­brated on fla­vor attrib­utes. From this, the Q-Grader Certification was born. Since then, the world has been pop­u­lated with over 2,100 Q-Graders in 59 Countries. The edu­ca­tion com­po­nent con­tin­ues to improve and the value to the stu­dent grows each year. The release of the lat­est ver­sion of the Q-Grader course mate­r­ial in early 2013 will be one of our first great achieve­ments for the year.

12_12 15-DWhat may not be so well known about CQI are the many other areas where we serve the cof­fee sup­ply chain. Technical assis­tance has been given in the areas of pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing, qual­ity improve­ment and increased inter­nal con­sump­tion. Many pro­duc­ers are unaware of mar­ket­ing tools, geo­graph­i­cal iden­tity of pro­duc­tion zones and use of cup pro­files. We find that pro­duc­ers are eager to learn about qual­ity improve­ments and mar­ket­ing of spe­cialty cof­fees. CQI has an inti­mate under­stand­ing of cof­fee indus­try needs and has years of expe­ri­ence in the devel­op­ment of effi­cient cof­fee mar­ket link­ages, tech­ni­cal assis­tance, mar­ket devel­op­ment, and capac­ity build­ing in devel­op­ing countries.

A great exam­ple of help­ing to cre­ate a mar­ket for spe­cialty cof­fee was our efforts to help the Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia bring some of their best cof­fees directly to the spe­cialty roaster with a cof­fee auc­tion. CQI was able to lend exper­tise in grad­ing, select­ing and prepar­ing for the auc­tion as well as pro­vided an auc­tion­eer to help boost the prices. All cof­fees received higher than mar­ket prices by being in the auc­tion! Over seven times mar­ket in some cases!

12_12 15-CCQI’s Coffee Corps™ vol­un­teer pro­gram matches coffee-industry experts with farm­ers and asso­ci­a­tions at ori­gin. The Coffee Corps is a group of vol­un­teers pas­sion­ate about cof­fee and will­ing to share their time and tal­ents with cof­fee farm­ers and cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties. These vol­un­teers help grow­ers improve their pro­duc­tion meth­ods and pro­cess­ing, and train labs, roast­ers, pack­agers, exporters, baris­tas and café own­ers about qual­ity con­trol processes and marketing.

A well-received class in 2012 was the ‘Honey and Naturals Processing Class’ in Ethiopia run by CoffeeCorps Volunteers.

The lat­est new pro­gram for CQI is the R-Grader pro­gram. This is sim­i­lar to the Q-Grader pro­gram but focuses on Robusta cof­fee and the farm­ers that pro­duce this mis­un­der­stood crop. It is entirely pos­si­ble that a whole new com­mu­nity will be able to ben­e­fit from the increased edu­ca­tion and qual­ity pro­grams ini­ti­ated by CQI. When you think about it: Quality Improvement is Quality Improvement, and Lives are Lives; there­fore, regard­less of plant species Improved Quality = Improved Lives.

As we look ahead to 2013 we see more con­tracts in place to do good work and pur­sue new research. We see pro­grams grow­ing on their own so we can focus on oth­ers that need more atten­tion. We pre­dict that there will be more lives helped by CQI than any other year in our his­tory! Bring on 2013!

12_12 15-BCoffee Corps Volunteer Coördinator, Coffee Quality Institute

Joan is orig­i­nally from Wyoming, grow­ing up in Cheyenne and grad­u­at­ing from the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 1976.  She grew up in the travel agency busi­ness that her dad started in 1949, learn­ing from him after school and dur­ing sum­mer breaks. She spent sev­eral years in the hos­pi­tal­ity indus­try as a sales man­ager for a resort hotel in Hood River fol­lowed by five years as Administrative Assistant at a small hos­pi­tal in the area.

Joan has trav­eled exten­sively and brings a good deal of expe­ri­ence to man­ag­ing logis­tics for the Coffee Corps Volunteers and Consultants.  She also assists with pro­posal devel­op­ment, report gen­er­a­tion and train­ing activities.

Quality Equals Money in Indonesia

Categories: 2012, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It has been said by many in the cof­fee indus­try that if we can just improve the qual­ity of the cof­fee, the farmer can get more money and improve their lot in life. The frus­trat­ing part is that so few in the indus­try have the abil­ity to fol­low the money and really feel the impact. It leads one to won­der if it really works at all.

This ques­tion was answered defin­i­tively this week at the sec­ond spe­cialty cof­fee auc­tion of Indonesia. The results were dra­matic. But some back­ground will help put the suc­cess in perspective.

The Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI) has been in for­ma­tion since 2009. Many orga­ni­za­tions of this age are still floun­der­ing and try­ing to find their way. SCAI is a great excep­tion as they have grown their mem­ber­ship to a self-sustaining level and receive AID money to help with qual­ity pro­grams in Indonesia as well as mar­ket­ing Indonesian cof­fees. They are a small but ener­getic and effi­cient team ded­i­cated to the improve­ment of cof­fee qual­ity and pro­ducer livelihood.

Indonesia is a pro­ducer of both Arabica and Robusta cof­fees. In fact, they are the 3rd largest pro­duc­ing coun­try when count­ing both vari­eties. To look at the improve­ment of cof­fee in this coun­try you must exam­ine what is hap­pen­ing in both types of coffee.

Robusta cof­fee is being treated like a com­mod­ity where vol­ume is the goal and qual­ity of the cof­fee has a fairly low bar. This is how Robusta is treated pretty much any­where it is grown in the world. There are a few seg­mented lots and the result is out­stand­ing. As you will see in the auc­tion results below, if the qual­ity of Robusta rises, so will the prices that roast­ers are will­ing to pay for it. Specialty is spe­cialty regard­less of the varietal.

Arabica cof­fee is incred­i­bly diverse in Indonesia for a num­ber of rea­sons. To get a feel for the sit­u­a­tion let’s exam­ine the grow­ing and pro­cess­ing con­di­tions. Indonesia is a series of Islands that stretch as wide as the United States. Each Island has micro­cli­mates, vol­canic activ­ity, and soil con­di­tions that can be very dif­fer­ent from each other. The farm­ing tech­nol­ogy varies from extremely sophis­ti­cated at the state run mega plan­ta­tions to the koteka-wearing peo­ple of Papua try­ing to oper­ate their new pulp­ing machine. Often the time and dis­tance the cof­fee has to travel from the farm to the exporter is hun­dreds of Kilometers and sev­eral days. As a result, cof­fee is par­tially dried and wet hulled along the way so it will not be a lost cause when it gets to a major city. Also, it has to travel through as many as six dif­fer­ent trans­porters from the start of its jour­ney to the end.

The ques­tion for Indonesia becomes this, How in the heck can you improve qual­ity, edu­cate the sup­ply chain and make sure the farmer gets rewarded for their efforts? The answer has to be a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy. This is what SCAI is pro­vid­ing for their coun­try. It comes down to Education, Marketing, and Reward.

SCAI knew that in order for the qual­ity to rise, qual­ity must be under­stood. It also needs to be com­mu­ni­cated to con­sum­ing coun­tries in a way that pro­vides both mar­ket­ing and feed­back for the asso­ci­a­tion and its mem­bers. So, step one was to engage Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) to pro­vide Q-Grader and R-Grader classes in coun­try. This has pro­duced a group of peo­ple that are able to com­mu­ni­cate flu­ently about the qual­ity of cof­fee both amongst them­selves and with the con­sum­ing world. In addi­tion an  ‘edu­ca­tion road­show’ was pro­vided to sev­eral very rural farm­ers to show how sim­ple improve­ments increases qual­ity and that they can be rewarded for it.

This effort has paid off for Indonesia. It paid off both in Arabica and Robusta. The auc­tion of spe­cialty lots brought record prices and val­i­dated the premise that Higher Quality = Higher Rewards. The fol­low­ing is an auc­tion recap.

Over 60 lots were sub­mit­ted to SCAI for con­sid­er­a­tion in the auc­tion. About half did not pass either the green grad­ing stan­dard and/or the cup­ping stan­dard of 82+ on the CQI grad­ing scale. A selec­tion of 24 sam­ples made it to the auc­tion in three cat­e­gories: Robusta, Arabica, and Luwak processed.

Before the auc­tion an inter­na­tional panel of judges from Indonesia, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, and The United States eval­u­ated the lots. Under the lead­er­ship of Ted Lingle as the head judge the cof­fees were scored, ranked and the top were selected to be in a final round of twelve cof­fees to be re-evaluated by the panel. The top-top cof­fees were picked and ranked. The cof­fee was now ready for auction.

SCAI did run into a prob­lem where the auc­tion­eer they were plan­ning on had to drop out at the last minute. Your hum­ble author was asked to step in. (Speaking only for myself, I thought I did a damn good job!)

On auc­tion day the C mar­ket for Arabica was $1.61/lb and the LIFFE price for Robusta was at $.94/lb.

The proof that qual­ity pays is this: The top Robusta got $3.18 per pound! The top Arabica got $20.45 per pound! The Luwak got $45.45 per pound! The over­all Arabica aver­age was $5.11 per pound for the entire auc­tion. If that is not proof that qual­ity pays, it would be hard to say what is!

Perhaps even more impres­sive and impor­tant is that of the top 5 cof­fees, all were sub­mit­ted by coop­er­a­tives. This means that the money is flow­ing back to the peo­ple that pro­duce it. It is often frus­trat­ing as a con­sumer because you do not really know if the pro­ducer is being com­pen­sated for improved qual­ity. In this auc­tion they did! Also sig­nif­i­cant is that the top Arabica and the top Robusta were pur­chased by an Indonesian roaster and the cof­fee will be con­sumed in coun­try! Indonesians have not had cof­fee this good to drink in, well, ever!

The other beau­ti­ful thing that hap­pened at the auc­tion is that the buyer and seller got to meet, shake hands, and even hug at the con­clu­sion of bid­ding for each lot.

ONGOING QUALITY IMPROVEMENT:  It is now a week after the auc­tion and there is a Q-Grader train­ing in Jakarta. One of the stu­dents is a mem­ber of the coöper­a­tive that sub­mit­ted the Arabica that gar­nered the sec­ond high­est price at the auc­tion. Another is the roaster  – retailer ‘my Kopi O!’ owned by Darma Santoso that pur­chased both the high­est priced Arabica and the high­est priced Robusta. Both are com­mit­ted to under­stand­ing how to com­mu­ni­cate about qual­ity in the sup­ply chain. With their efforts and all of the work being done by SCAI, qual­ity in Indonesia will con­tinue to improve, and the pro­duc­ers are cer­tainly get­ting the benefit!

Colombia: A Heart of Opportunities

Categories: 2012, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Shut off by the world for many years, Colombia’s bad high debts and inter­nal con­flicts with drugs, vio­lence, and Guerrilla war­fare scared pub­lic away from engag­ing in many busi­ness and tourism ven­tures that had to do with the coun­try. However, this is not entirely the case any­more. Maybe it is the beauty of the moun­tains, the peo­ple, or the exotic fruits that taste like they are from the Garden of Eden, but within a few hours of being in the coun­try you wish you had planned a longer stay. The country’s rich­ness in cul­ture, beauty, flora & fauna, and nat­ural resources has always been a mostly untapped poten­tial. Finally, the coun­try has come into its own and travel, tourism, export and for­eign invest­ments are improv­ing national pros­per­ity and increas­ing world recognition.

On May 15, 2012. The Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Colombia was final­ized. Giving way to a new mar­ket and new oppor­tu­ni­ties. In order to help seize this new mar­ket, in June 2012, ProExport held a match­mak­ing forum between 250 local exporters, and 150 inter­na­tional buy­ers aim­ing to pro­mote around the world the fish farm­ing, live­stock, agri­cul­tural, and agroin­dus­try sec­tors of Colombia. Through these forums ProExport is hop­ing to elim­i­nate the mid­dle­man and pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for direct trade rela­tion­ships between Colombians and the rest of the world.

Colombia is not wast­ing any time. In the past few months talks about Free Trade Agreements have started with Costa Rica, Korea, Turkey and Japan. Being a coun­try with over­abun­dant nat­ural riches has allowed the coun­try to become the pri­mary exporters of flow­ers into the United States, not to men­tion the wide array of exotic fruits and other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts that can be found. Climate, and alti­tude have also made it pos­si­ble to grow tea in cer­tain regions. At the moment Hindú is the only com­pany that pro­duces tea in Colombia. In addi­tion, com­pa­nies such as Listo & Fresco are sell­ing frozen fruit pulps, frozen fruits, pre– cooked veg­eta­bles, and Colombia’s sig­na­ture Creole pota­toes. Dr. Ricardo Vallejo, Vice President of ProExport stated, “We want to become a pantry for the world.” And this vision is not far from being true.

So what does this mean for Coffee? This means you should expect to see not only green cof­fee com­ing out of Colombia, but also added-value prod­ucts like roasted cof­fee, cof­fee con­cen­trates, and con­fec­tions. For many cof­fee farm­ers, such as the own­ers of Café Pitayo, the FTA is what is moti­vat­ing them to go beyond export­ing green beans. They have now diver­si­fied to sell­ing roasted and ground cof­fee. For Rafico Gómez, Manager of Café Pitayo, the FTA has opened way for ver­ti­cal inte­gra­tion. “This has allowed us to con­trol and guar­an­tee the qual­ity of our cof­fee; con­trol is not lost in the mid­dle man.”

Likewise, Miller Olaya Toro, Manager of the San Isidro Co-op, sees this as a new oppor­tu­nity to reach the inter­na­tional mar­ket. San Isidro is an orga­ni­za­tion of 100 pro­duc­ers, which com­prise a total of 700 hectares of cof­fee. Since 2005, they have par­tic­i­pated in the Cup of excel­lence, win­ning five times. For Mr. Olaya, this is a great oppor­tu­nity to pro­mote cof­fee and prod­ucts that are 100% from ori­gin, as well as pro­mot­ing their achieve­ments of qual­ity and sus­tain­able prac­tices. Representing women in cof­fee is Lucía Londoño Jaramillo, General Manager of Hacienda Venecia. She has looked to diver­sify and truly pro­mote the cul­ture of cof­fee in Colombia. This Entrepreneur woman is involved in her family’s estate farm located in Manizales, Colombia; she is sell­ing every­thing from green and roasted cof­fee to Barista train­ing and cup­ping courses. Ms. Londoño com­ments, “We want the rev­enue from value added prod­ucts to stay in Colombia and ben­e­fit our country.”

Beyond the increase pop­u­lar­ity in value-added prod­ucts, Colombians are tak­ing the ini­tia­tive towards cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. They are rec­og­niz­ing the need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate Colombian cof­fees from other coun­tries and stand out in the mar­ket. However, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are not the only com­pet­i­tive advan­tage that the national com­pa­nies are seek­ing to acquire, inven­tive­ness and inno­va­tion are a con­stant effort. Guava energy snacks; alter­na­tive sweet­en­ers; frozen exotic fruit pulps; even fla­vored iced cof­fee machines, man­u­fac­tured by Colcafé, that make Peach and lemon iced cof­fee (which amaz­ingly was pretty tasty) are emerg­ing from this trans­formed economy.

According to Alberto Lora “Colombia is becom­ing an export­ing plat­form for peo­ple who want to export to the United States and other coun­tries.” Last September the Wall Street Journal accred­ited Colombia as one of six devel­op­ing nations that “are being touted as the next gen­er­a­tion of tiger economies.” These coun­tries are known by the acronym CIVETS* (and no, I am not refer­ring to the lit­tle cof­fee eat­ing crea­tures who’s diges­tive track has become the lat­est cof­fee pro­cess­ing method).

Even though Colombia still has strug­gles with secu­rity, this should not over­shadow Colombia’s momen­tous achieve­ments in reduc­ing over­all lev­els of vio­lence. Colombia’s moti­va­tion to becom­ing a world econ­omy is noth­ing less than admirable.

*CIVETS – Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa

Uniting Efforts to Meet 
Sustainability Challenges in the Coffee Sector

Categories: 2012, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact Name: Verónica Pérez-Sueiro

Website: www.4c-coffeeassociation.org
Location: Various Coffee Growing Countries
Email Address: Veronica.perez@4ccoffeeassociation.org
Phone Number: 406−542−3509

Project Description

The 4C Association was ini­ti­ated in response to the so called “inter­na­tional cof­fee cri­sis” in 2001. Back then, an over­sup­ply of cof­fee led to the plum­met­ing of inter­na­tional cof­fee prices, push­ing mil­lions of cof­fee farm­ers into poverty. The dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers in the cof­fee sec­tor came together to jointly dis­cuss and find solu­tions for sup­port­ing farm­ers in becom­ing more sus­tain­able in their pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing prac­tices. Since the launch of the Common Code for the Coffee Community Project in 2003, the 4C System has come a long way. Reaching agree­ment on a base­line stan­dard for sus­tain­abil­ity by the dif­fer­ent actors in the cof­fee sec­tor was an impor­tant early mile­stone, fol­lowed by the for­mal estab­lish­ment of the 4C Association end 2006. The asso­ci­a­tion has now suc­cess­fully built a net­work to train pro­duc­ers in the appli­ca­tion of the 4C base­line stan­dard, set up a ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem, and broad­ened its net­work of mem­bers and partners.

By the end of 2011, 79 cof­fee pro­duc­ing enti­ties (4C Units), encom­pass­ing over 455,000 farm­ers and work­ers in 16 coun­tries, had been inde­pen­dently ver­i­fied to com­ply with the 4C Code of Conduct. This Code is the base­line sus­tain­abil­ity stan­dard for the pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing of green cof­fee. The aggre­gate pro­duc­tion poten­tial of these 4C Units amounted to over 15 mil­lion bags of 4C Compliant Coffee, rep­re­sent­ing nearly twelve per­cent of today‘s global cof­fee supply.

As a pre-competitive ini­tia­tive, the 4C Association does not only pro­mote its own base­line stan­dard and ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem. It also col­lab­o­rates closely with other sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives such as UTZ Certified and the Rainforest Alliance, which are both 4C Members. The objec­tive is to pro­mote sup­ply and demand of ver­i­fied and cer­ti­fied cof­fees in the mar­ket. “It is very encour­ag­ing to see that the vol­umes of ver­i­fied and cer­ti­fied cof­fee are grow­ing steadily and that more and more com­pa­nies are com­mit­ting to sus­tain­able pur­chas­ing. However, there is still a lot of untapped poten­tial to advance sus­tain­abil­ity in the sec­tor by bring­ing actors together. The 4C Association is com­mit­ted to be the plat­form that enables all cof­fee stake­hold­ers to join together in forg­ing long-term solu­tions through joint projects and part­ner­ships,” stated Melanie Rutten-Sülz, 4C Executive Director.

A plat­form to expand sus­tain­abil­ity in the cof­fee sec­tor Membership in the 4C Association also grew con­sid­er­ably over the last year. As of 1 June 2012, the 4C Association had 167 mem­bers, an increase of nearly 25% from the same period in 2011. The most sig­nif­i­cant growth in mem­ber­ship was seen among cof­fee pro­duc­ers, traders and roast­ers. The 4C Association offers its mem­bers and other cof­fee actors a plat­form where they can iden­tify and address over­ar­ch­ing sus­tain­abil­ity chal­lenges and trans­late ideas into actions. For instance, it co-organized the first Regional Forum on Coffee and Climate Change in El Salvador in 2011. The Forum brought together for the first time, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the main stake­hold­ers in the Central American cof­fee sec­tor to jointly define a Coffee Agenda for the Adaptation to Climate Change for the entire region (ACCCCA). Other activ­i­ties and ser­vices include sus­tain­abil­ity forums, the­matic work­ing groups and acqui­si­tion of project fund­ing on spe­cific sus­tain­abil­ity issues.

Producers sort­ing out green cher­ries from har­vest in Dalat, Vietnam

Multistakeholder Participation

Spreading cof­fee to dry – Indonesia

Who Benefits From This Project?

The 4C Association is about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of those who make a liv­ing from cof­fee pro­duc­tion and trade. Farmers in the 4C System ben­e­fit by improv­ing effi­ciency, increas­ing their yields, and improv­ing their stan­dards of liv­ing – socially, envi­ron­men­tally and eco­nom­i­cally. Coffee traders and roast­ers are able to build last­ing con­tacts and ensure a long term sup­ply of cof­fee from bet­ter, more sus­tain­able sup­ply chains. Retailers are thereby able to pro­vide their con­sumers with a worry free prod­uct and meet the increas­ing demand for sus­tain­ably sourced cof­fee while NGOs can sup­port rel­e­vant sus­tain­abil­ity projects. All in all, a win-win sit­u­a­tion is cre­ated for the entire cof­fee community

How Can I Help?

Become a mem­ber of the 4C Association to con­tribute to our joint efforts of main­stream­ing sus­tain­abil­ity. Only through con­tin­ued col­lab­o­ra­tion through this multi-stakeholder plat­form can the Association attain its ambi­tious goal of achiev­ing sector-wide com­pli­ance with at least base­line sus­tain­abil­ity cri­te­ria in the com­ing years.