Tag Archive for: Indonesia

by Dean Cycon

Direct Trade

Categories: 2015, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Movements are like honey.  They start out sweet but even­tu­ally draw lots of flies.  We have cer­tainly seen that in fair trade and organ­ics, with poseurs putting the mean­ing­less “More than Organic” on their pack­ag­ing.  So it has already become with Direct Trade.

Personally, I think Direct Trade was started by a few com­pa­nies that either didn’t want to pay farm­ers the Fair Trade price, didn’t want to deal with coop­er­a­tives (although they all do,) or just had a more lib­er­tar­ian bent of not want­ing to be told what to do.  Some of the com­pa­nies were hon­or­able, although most made the hope­fully uncon­scious move of rep­re­sent­ing that all of their cof­fees were Direct Trade when only a few were.  Some were down­right bogus.

There is no such thing as Direct Trade, actu­ally.  It is a self-declared and self-created “cer­ti­fi­ca­tion” made to look like some sort of offi­cial approval.  Again, some of the com­pa­nies are well-intended, but already in the short life of the sup­posed Direct Trade model there are many phonies and poseurs.

Theoretically, Direct Trade means that the com­pany has a real and direct rela­tion­ship with the farmer, whether a small farm, large farm or a coöper­a­tive.  They buy direct, not using bro­kers and inter­me­di­aries (who have such a bad name out there, whether deserved or not.) Almost all of them claim to pay “well in excess of Fair Trade pric­ing” but since the Fair Trade price is either a min­i­mum in the bad times or a float­ing price daily, that’s a hard claim to ver­ify.  In my expe­ri­ence, how­ever, many of these guys don’t buy direct at all. It is nearly impos­si­ble to buy less than a full con­tainer directly, as ship­ping costs on a few bags would add sev­eral dol­lars per pound to the price alone. Rather, they buy through bro­kers in busi­ness as usual, but since they may have vis­ited a farmer or coop for a day or two, they claim to have a direct rela­tion­ship.  I think some of these guys really believe they are doing some­thing spe­cial, and while it makes great mar­ket­ing, it makes no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the farm­ers’ lives.

A few weeks ago I was hav­ing a long back and forth email thread with a farmer we work with in Indonesia, Ghair.  We were talk­ing about our fathers, and how they are aging and slip­ping into early-stage Alzheimer’s.  We shared the heart­break for our fam­i­lies and talked about strate­gies for retain­ing dig­nity but putting safety in place for our beloved dads. As I actu­ally know and have spent time with his father, it was a pro­found cor­re­spon­dence.  Soon there­after I got a call from a reporter who wanted me to com­ment on a com­pany that said it was Direct Trade, and how supe­rior their pro­gram was to Fair Trade.  He told me that the owner was proud to know the farmer, and knew his name and even his wife’s name.  “Big deal,” I thought, “but let’s see where this is going.”  I asked the reporter if he would call back the com­pany and tell the owner he was really inter­ested in his story and needed back­ground.  What was the farmer’s name and what was his wife’s name?  A few hours later he called me back laugh­ing.  When asked the farmer’s name, the owner hes­i­tated and then said “Manuel.”  When asked the wife’s name there was a silence and finally the owner said “I’ll get back to you on that.”  An hour later a woman from the com­pany called the reporter to tell him that the farmer’s wife’s name was “Maria.”  This would have been a joke, except that after my cor­re­spon­dence with Ghair it seemed like a rude mar­ket­ing ploy.

Direct Trade is not new. Lots of com­pa­nies like us, Equal Exchange and Coöperative Coffees have been engaged in this kind of trade for decades.  It is what our busi­ness mod­els are based on.  To us, Direct Trade means really know­ing farm­ers we work with on an inti­mate level.  We under­stand their eco­nomic, social, and eco­log­i­cal strug­gles and aspi­ra­tions. We work with them on a very long-term basis to address those – not just by giv­ing more money for one year and find­ing some other farmer to be “direct” with the next year.  We are not importers. We use the great ser­vices of Royal Coffee for that. We iden­tify and visit the coops, make the con­nec­tions and rela­tion­ships, and Royal does the paper­work and phys­i­cal import­ing.  Our rela­tion­ships with farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties are real, long-term and have mean­ing­ful and mea­sur­able impact in the field.

I applaud any­body who tries to break the old sys­tem of abuse in world trade, whether through for­mal Fair Trade, sin­cere Direct Trade or per­sonal rela­tion­ships with integrity and real impact.  But a self-serving dec­la­ra­tion that a com­pany is “Direct” doesn’t meet that stan­dard.  Don’t take their word for it (espe­cially as there are no reg­u­la­tions or stan­dards what­so­ever beyond self-declared ones.)  Ask the hard ques­tions, like …what’s the farmer’s name?

New World Coffee

Categories: 2015, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Not unlike the wine grow­ing indus­try of the 1960’s & 1970’s the cof­fee Industry is fast approach­ing major change.

This change, whether largely or partly influ­enced by cli­mate change (or as I see it cli­mate cycles), causes effects on sta­tic plan­ta­tions of any one selec­tion. Despite the debate of whether this change is caused by global warm­ing, global cool­ing, cli­mate change or cli­mate cycling, or whether this is with or with­out the influ­ence of human inter­ven­tion, the depen­dency on Arabica is increas­ing while sup­ply of sus­tain­able high qual­ity beans are seen by many to be decreasing.


Map 1: Current cof­fee pro­duc­ing regions

Map 1 (June2014) shows areas of cof­fee cul­ti­va­tion by type, robusta ®, robusta & Arabica (m), Arabica (a). Although some loca­tions are absent, the gen­eral over­lay of sig­nif­i­cant cof­fee grow­ing areas char­ac­ter­izes both the degree of lat­i­tude per­ceived suited to cur­rent cof­fee pro­duc­tion & high­lights the poten­tial indus­try vul­ner­a­bil­ity to change.

Otto Simonett illus­trates (Map 2) the poten­tial impact of global warm­ing in one loca­tion on a vari­ety least affected by eco­log­i­cal & mete­o­ro­log­i­cal conditions.


Map 2

A rise in tem­per­a­ture, shown by this map, will severely reduce total pro­duc­tion, irre­spec­tive of addi­tional adverse fac­tors caused by this change. Changing cli­mate con­di­tions will inevitably have a higher impact in Arabica, which requires spe­cific con­di­tions with less vari­a­tion to pro­duce good qual­ity cher­ries. In September 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) pro­jected a global warm­ing between 2.6 oC – 4.8 oC by the end of the cen­tury. It con­tin­ued to report that in Brazil, a tem­per­a­ture rise of 3.0 oC would reduce suit­able areas for grow­ing by 66 per­cent in Minas Gerais & Sao Paulo & elim­i­nate it in oth­ers. Similarly, in 2012 the International Coffee Organization (ICO) ana­lyzed effects of cli­mate change on wild indige­nous Arabica in Ethiopia, sug­gest­ing that cur­rent pro­duc­tion could dis­ap­pear by 2080. World Coffee Research (A & M University Texas) points out that either ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, fluc­tu­a­tions in tem­per­a­ture, other weather con­di­tions or pests would cause a defi­ciency of suit­able high­land moun­tain­side on which Arabica flourishes.

It has been reported that tem­per­a­tures above 23 oC can effect cof­fee plant metab­o­lism, result­ing in reduced yields, unbal­ance aro­matic volatiles & increased lev­els of borer bee­tle & leaf rust. My find­ings between 2008 – 2014 sup­ports this, though actual tem­per­a­tures were found to be slightly higher at 25oC with rel­a­tive humid­ity (RH) less than 65 percent.

It is clear that a rise in tem­per­a­ture would severely reduce exist­ing grow­ing regions & sig­nif­i­cantly effect cherry quality.

Mauricio Galindo (ICO) stated in 2012 that cli­mate change was the biggest threat to the Industry, adding that if we don’t pre­pare our­selves we are head­ing for a big dis­as­ter. In March 2014 (ICO) fur­ther cau­tions were expressed that cli­mate change would have a neg­a­tive impact on pro­duc­tion in many coun­tries unless urgent research is car­ried out on adap­ta­tion measures.

What if we could pro­duce a more uni­form crop of cher­ries, cher­ries of selected size, known qual­ity, time of har­vest or even increased choice of geo­graphic location?


Figure 1: Effect of Pollination on cherry ripeness.

Consistency of crop (Figure 1) is often a reflec­tion of how each plant is in bal­ance with its micro­cli­mate. This ecos­phere, both above & below ground, which can dif­fer from plant to plant, is cru­cial to under­stand­ing & deliv­er­ing high-quality con­sis­tent production.

To help under­stand the effects of these cycles on cur­rent Arabica plant­i­ngs & ulti­mately cherry qual­ity, I went into the under-story of South East Asia. For the past 9 sea­sons I have com­pared plant habi­tat, plant form, flora, fauna & phys­i­o­log­i­cal aspects of Arabica from Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam & Thailand.

During this time, accom­pa­nied with 14 years (1984−1998) ana­lyz­ing gov­ern­ment cli­mate data, it is a no-brainer to con­clude “we” need to both adapt & evolve with the flu­id­ness of what is hap­pen­ing around us. Often these effects of “change” cause spec­u­la­tion seen as adverse char­ac­ter­is­tics on the things we cur­rently do. Along with most climate-related indus­tries, the cof­fee indus­try drinks these effects but equally swal­lows oppor­tu­ni­ties for inno­va­tion & indus­try development.

To ensure fun­da­men­tals of sus­tain­able cherry qual­ity in cycles of change, we need to con­sider nature’s rhythm & diver­sity. Nature is a wise teacher with a long his­tory of per­se­ver­ance whom we need to realign with, draw aware­ness from, and under­stand what she is already prepar­ing & implementing.

Geographic loca­tions on the fringes of cur­rent nat­ural adap­ta­tion are often the first to notice sub­tle indi­ca­tors as a result of change.

Why con­tinue to drink a reduced ‘qual­ity nec­tar of nature’ (QNON) when nature has pro­vided the APPS to make things easy!

Stimulated with this cup of knowl­edge I trav­elled to the South Island of New Zealand (Aotearoa o Te Waipounamu) to inves­ti­gate Arabica plant func­tion & cherry qual­ity as effected by cool tem­per­ate cli­mate. Trials were located in Hortons Road Tasman, 43 km west of Nelson & 41degrees lat­i­tude south of the equa­tor. Nelson is unique in its inher­ent nature of mar­itime influ­ence, not only expe­ri­enc­ing long sun­shine hours but cool night tem­per­a­tures. This diur­nal fac­tor of tem­per­a­ture is a fun­da­men­tal key in both the fruit­ful­ness (cherry/leaf ratio) but more impor­tantly cherry phys­i­o­log­i­cal ripeness (CPR). Cherry phys­i­o­log­i­cal ripeness (CPR) from obser­va­tion & in my opin­ion cor­re­lates to (QNON) in Arabica. Initial tri­als over 7 sea­sons & a sub­se­quent trial over 5 sea­sons have shown a sin­gle selec­tion of 500 plants of Arabica has tol­er­ated fre­quent tem­per­a­tures of 0 oC with short peri­ods as low as –1.5 oC mea­sured at 1.5 meters above ground level. Furthermore flower num­bers, cherry size, even­ness of ripen­ing & cup qual­ity com­pared favor­ably with geo­graphic loca­tions from tra­di­tional Arabica cof­fee grow­ing regions.

In con­clu­sion, find­ings sug­gest that there are pos­si­ble alter­na­tive Arabica coffee-growing loca­tions out­side those cur­rently planted. Whether these ‘new world’ loca­tions are linked more closely with cur­rent micro­cli­mate, fore­casted using pre­dicted cli­mate mod­els or diver­si­fied with genetic selec­tion, there are oppor­tu­ni­ties for increased plant­i­ngs away from cur­rent grow­ing regions expe­ri­enc­ing cli­mate cycle chal­lenge, envi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­ity or unsus­tain­able pro­duc­tion. Additional advan­tages of plant­i­ngs out­side exist­ing cof­fee grow­ing regions includes the absence of estab­lished pests & disease.

More ‘flu­idly attune’ plant­i­ngs will ensure con­sis­tent high-quality crops with increased eco­log­i­cally adap­tion & bio­log­i­cal sus­tain­abil­ity, ensur­ing the deliv­ery of life’s essence.

By Gregory Lupton, Plant Physiologist

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2015, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

There is a dra­matic dif­fer­ence in what roast­ers in Asia are doing and what is done in the United States. It all has to do with the per­cep­tion of the term Production Roasting. A dis­cus­sion with roast­ers on either side of the Pacific yields very dif­fer­ent results.

In the United States, cof­fee roast­ing evolved into mas­sive com­mer­cial roast­ers spew­ing forth brown water called cof­fee. For gen­er­a­tions we accepted this as the way cof­fee was sup­posed to be. It was con­sis­tent, cheap, and we had it every day. After all, it was so cheap that our bosses gave it to us for free in the office.

What is inter­est­ing about this ‘evo­lu­tion’ is that it was not always that way. Coffee was roasted at home in the 1800’s, and in small shops in the early 1900’s. It was the mid 1900’s that saw the demise of the lit­tle shops roast­ing their own. So in the late 1900’s the cof­fee indus­try ‘devolved’, in a man­ner of speak­ing, into an addi­tional mar­ket seg­ment called Specialty Coffee. This move­ment cre­ated the micro-roaster and small batch craftsmen.

The move­ment came alive when the Roasters Guild formed and started the prop­a­ga­tion of roast­ing edu­ca­tion and best prac­tices. People that enjoyed the craft also enjoyed each other’s pas­sion and will­ing­ness to share trade secrets. Sadly, there was some­thing miss­ing: the barista. In the early part of this cen­tury, the barista really took what the roaster was doing and pre­sented the pub­lic with true dif­fer­en­ti­ated tastes. The art of shot pulling and hand craft­ing cof­fees took off and the roaster’s craft con­tin­ued to improve with sin­gle ori­gin offer­ings and espresso blending.

One of the busi­ness real­i­ties of roast­ing cof­fee in the US is that if you are roast­ing for just one shop then you are prob­a­bly hav­ing a hard time mak­ing a go of it and feed­ing your fam­ily. This is where the roaster starts look­ing for other cof­fee shops, restau­rants, and offices that want to improve their cof­fee offer­ing. There is a whole­sale com­po­nent to most US roaster busi­nesses that facil­i­tate the cash flow needed for survival.

Blending for con­sis­tency through­out the year has become just as impor­tant a skill as find­ing the sweet spot in a lot of Geisha. Although we WANT to only roast the beau­ti­ful stuff, we pay the bills with the bulk roast­ing and blends.

This is NOT what is hap­pen­ing in Asian countries.

This author has vis­ited shops in Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Everywhere they served cof­fee, it was kick-ass unbe­liev­able crafts­man­ship and stun­ning pre­sen­ta­tion. Not only is the cof­fee spec­tac­u­lar, but the pre­sen­ta­tion and the knowl­edge of the barista is like a cof­fee person’s dream come true.

Overstatement? Not really. You see, the cof­fee indus­try evolved dif­fer­ently in Asia. Where we went from com­mer­cial to craft, they went from tea to craft. As a mat­ter of fact, you couldn’t get (until just recently) a ‘take away’ cof­fee, much less find a cof­fee shop open before noon.

Coffee in Asia, as with tea, is meant to be a shared expe­ri­ence among friends or busi­ness asso­ciates. It is not the secret elixir of pro­duc­tiv­ity. The thought of a ‘Venti’ almost causes heart pal­pi­ta­tions to most baris­tas in Asia. The sav­ing grace as a trav­eler is the Americano where at least you can get a full cup of some­thing hot.

At a recent teach­ing of the SCAA roast­ing Level 1 classes in Taiwan, the dif­fer­ence in roast­ing styles became shock­ingly clear. When asked what machine they used to roast, the LARGEST one was a 1 kilo roaster. (or 2.2 pounds!) The other real­ity is that almost EVERY cof­fee house roasts their own. This means that every day they roast the Kilo or two of Grade 1, 90+ cof­fee they have in stock to pro­vide their clients with the best cof­fee fla­vor pos­si­ble. They hap­pen to often serve in what amounts to a shot glass and the cus­tomers LOVE it. They sip, savor, and dis­cuss the coffee.

The ‘third wave’ expe­ri­ence in Asia is EVERYWHERE. Of course that is a gross over­state­ment, but it is eas­ier to find great cof­fee in Asia than in the US. The chal­lenge they face is the short­age of true 90+ cof­fees. They are par­tic­i­pat­ing fairly fully in the direct rela­tion­ship model by fly­ing from coun­try to coun­try look­ing for good sources of beans. They pay top dol­lar and they get rewarded for it at the cof­fee counter.

What this envi­ron­ment has pro­duced, how­ever, is a gen­er­a­tion of Asian roast­ers who have yet to find the sec­ond crack! You are more likely than not to be drink­ing sam­ple roast cof­fee so as not to dimin­ish any of the enzy­matic byprod­ucts while push­ing up the sugar brown­ing. They are exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent burn­ers in their 1 kilos and get­ting fan­tas­tic con­trol over their roasts.

Translation is often a dif­fi­cult thing. When try­ing to explain the need and desire for cof­fee roasted into the sec­ond crack, it was as if you were explain­ing quan­tum physics to kinder­gart­ners. They knew some­thing was being explained, but it made no sense what­so­ever. They just don’t whole­sale there. They have no need for shelf life, con­sis­tency of blend fla­vor and find that any hint of car­bon is just an admit­tance that you could not find the good stuff in the beans.

They have truly taken the best prac­tices of the third wave and improved upon them. They are artists both at the roaster, the pour over sta­tion, and the espresso machine. But when you try to explain how the rest of the world roasts, you are met with, “Wait! WHAT? There is a SECOND CRACK?!?”

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at

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 to learn more about how you can help. To learn more about the Coffeelands Food Security Coalition, visit

Contact Name:     Britt Rosenberg
Location:     Portland/Oregon/USA
Email Address:
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

Contact Name:     Alexandra Katona-Carroll
Web Site:
Location:     Worldwide
Email Address:
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’.

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 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

& 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

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.

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