Tag Archive for: Specialty Coffee Association

by Kerri Goodman

The View

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

This month Seattle will host poten­tially the largest gath­er­ing of cof­fee pro­fes­sion­als in North America ever. The Specialty Coffee Association of America “Event” boasts 10,000+ par­tic­i­pants from 72 coun­tries, 50+ hours of lec­tures given by close to 100 pre­sen­ters, 124 Skill Building Workshop hours includ­ing 41 offer­ing Certificate Credits, and a mul­ti­tude of spe­cial events, com­pe­ti­tions, and net­work­ing opportunities.

To be blunt, you will miss some­thing impor­tant dur­ing this event. It is 100% guar­an­teed. Though you may pos­sess great pri­or­i­ti­za­tion skills, make a list of all poten­tial activ­i­ties and meet­ings, iden­tify which are urgent vs. impor­tant, be flex­i­ble and adapt­able, and even know when to cut, there are sim­ply too many oppor­tu­ni­ties to take advan­tage of all of them.  I know I find this incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing and thus am really par­tic­u­lar about mak­ing sure every activ­ity has max­i­mum poten­tial for mul­ti­ple objec­tives. That is way I love the Charity Scavenger Hunt! It is designed to cre­ate last­ing rela­tion­ships and mem­o­ries great for busi­ness, AND give back to our amaz­ing indus­try at the same time. Please check out our web page on the event and see if you can be a part of this!

AND another thing not to be missed!

If you are inter­ested in pur­chas­ing extra­or­di­nary green cof­fee with a great story, that guar­an­tees to change lives then you need to mark April 23rd on your cal­en­dar for the Cup of Excellence online auc­tion. Astrid Medina, 38, is a woman who finds time for every­thing, includ­ing tak­ing care of her fam­ily and pro­duc­ing excep­tional cof­fee. In the last 2015 Cup of Excellence com­pe­ti­tion, her cof­fee, which the cup­pers described as hav­ing exotic attrib­utes, came in first place with a score of 90.2 points.

Ms. Medina was enthu­si­as­tic, “This is an amaz­ing accom­plish­ment. Thank God we won. Coffee is won­der­ful and we mustn’t let it go to waste. This achieve­ment trans­lates into a bet­ter future for Gaitana and for Planadas (her hometown).

We women are bound­less and beau­ti­ful. Although being a cof­fee grower is chal­leng­ing, it’s a won­der­ful dream. I only grow my cof­fee based on good prac­tices.” Astrid specif­i­cally thanked the FNC’s Extension Service for the per­ma­nent sup­port it pro­vides to cof­fee growers.

In regard to the auc­tion on April 23, Astrid knows that the qual­ity pre­mium that the high­est bid­der will pay for her cof­fee will trans­late into wel­fare for her entire fam­ily, her employ­ees, and pro­duc­tive improve­ments on the farm. “I will invest it in improv­ing our house, pro­vid­ing bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions for our farm man­ager, our employ­ees, expand­ing the “ben­e­fi­ci­adero” (post-harvest pro­cess­ing facil­i­ties), because we think about grow­ing more cof­fee in the future, hav­ing bet­ter tech­nol­ogy, improv­ing every­thing,” she says.

Astrid Medina: a mother, a wife, and a producer of an exceptional coffee in Planadas, Tolima

Astrid Medina: a mother, a wife, and a pro­ducer of an excep­tional cof­fee in Planadas, Tolima

Thanks to the farm, her eldest daugh­ter has already started study­ing envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing in Bogota and she will be able to con­tinue to pur­sue her career. Coffee has allowed Astrid to keep her fam­ily together and help each other. “There is strength in num­bers. There have been ups and downs. We have already been work­ing nine years on this farm. There have been times of low prices in which one wants to give many things to the employ­ees and one can­not, but we keep going on hope,” she ends.

This com­pe­ti­tion is part of the FNC’s dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, value added and posi­tion­ing strat­egy and orga­nized in con­junc­tion with the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, which designs and imple­ments its rules and stan­dards. The 31 lots that received more than 85 points on the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) scale will par­tic­i­pate in a real-time online auc­tion and buy­ers from all around the globe will have the chance to bid for the best Colombian cof­fees. The auc­tion can be fol­lowed at

SCAA Awards Process">SCAA Awards Process

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

What we award when we award awards…

A career might be com­pared to a meal at a new restaurant’s com­mu­nity table: you find a seat and intro­duce your­self and start slowly, cau­tiously; you might intro­duce your­self or sit back and watch the oth­ers for a bit. Perhaps you’ll have a sip of wine, or, more care­fully, a glass of iced tea, maybe even a bite of bread.  You’ll look to see what oth­ers order, and who knows whom.

You might start out with an appe­tizer or a light snack. This first course could be con­sid­ered your intern­ship or pro­ba­tion­ary period. Then you dive into the main course — years of hard work. If you’re lucky, and you love what you do, this is the best part. Dessert, obvi­ously, is where you sit back and reflect on the entire meal, the company…you may have got­ten to know a cou­ple of peo­ple at the table over the course of the meal; you may feel per­suaded, espe­cially if you’ve had a glass of wine or two, to make a toast to some­one who you believe added some­thing spe­cial to the evening.

It is that toast at the end of a glo­ri­ous meal that an indus­try award might be com­pared to. We want to rec­og­nize those who added to our enjoy­ment of the meal, even if we both eyed the same drum­stick, or rib, before yield­ing up one for the other.

Granted, a forty-year career is a much more com­plex under­tak­ing than an evening’s meal, but the sen­ti­ment of want­ing to acknowl­edge those who con­tributed to our enjoy­ment and nour­ish­ment is the same.

In the cof­fee indus­try, and in the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try espe­cially, this com­par­i­son works par­tic­u­larly well because so many of us enjoy the com­pan­ion­ship of a great meal. We also appre­ci­ate the craft, artistry, and arti­sanal exper­tise that go into mak­ing a great meal come together, per­haps because that effort is so sim­i­lar to all that goes into mak­ing a great cup of coffee.

The offi­cial awards that our trade orga­ni­za­tion, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, has bestowed upon the var­i­ous par­tic­i­pants and allies of our indus­try, over the years have been a group effort and a work in progress. As a group, we’ve wanted to acknowl­edge past accom­plish­ment but also to moti­vate and inspire future break­throughs and suc­cess. It is hard to say which aspect is more important.

Competing with and some­times enhanc­ing those two desires is a third more com­plex endeavor, one that is not as man­i­festly self­less but finally just as impor­tant. We want to ally our­selves with and nur­ture those who can bring future ben­e­fit to us: through their good name; through their recog­ni­tion of us; or through the resources they can bring to us, whether out of their own good will or mutual ben­e­fit. It may be viewed as crass to con­sider this third aspect, but it is some­times the sole rea­son many non-profit orga­ni­za­tions give awards to their com­mu­nity mem­bers at all. Rather than ignore the fact that we want to praise those whose promi­nence might bring more to us than our award will impart to them, we are bet­ter off acknowl­edg­ing this as a nat­ural part of the award dynamic and ensure that it is con­ducted trans­par­ently and forthrightly.

It must be noted that not all awards or moti­va­tions dri­ving them orig­i­nate from a gen­uine desire to help the indus­try as a whole, but rather to help par­tic­u­lar per­sons or com­pa­nies. It is even pos­si­ble for cer­tain indi­vid­u­als to gain a rep­u­ta­tion for the abil­ity to ensure that cer­tain awards are granted to cer­tain mem­bers. Whether this is done out of some notion of cama­raderie or –worst case– cash up-front, it obvi­ously doesn’t serve the inter­ests of the indus­try as a whole and tar­nishes the process, and the mean­ing of the award.

This past year, thanks to the efforts of the SCAA’s imme­di­ate past chair, Paul Thornton, a cod­i­fied pro­ce­dure was put into place for col­lect­ing nom­i­na­tions for the SCAA’s Annual Recognition Awards, vet­ting them, and pre­sent­ing them to the board for approval. In the past that process has lacked coher­ence, much less com­mon­sense, in some cases.

The SCAA’s board and mem­ber­ship have adopted a num­ber of award cat­e­gories over the years to acknowl­edge and moti­vate excel­lent achieve­ment in a num­ber of cat­e­gories. Some of these awards are more nat­u­rally pre­sented to some­one in mid-career (or ear­lier) and some oth­ers, the Life Achievement Award in par­tic­u­lar, at the con­clu­sion of one’s work-life.

An exam­ple of an award designed to moti­vate and inspire both the awardee and other mem­bers of the indus­try is the SCAA’s newest award, the Distinguished Newcomer Award. This award, being pre­sented for the first time in 2015, is designed to acknowl­edge “a cof­fee pro­fes­sional of 5 or less years whose sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions have made an impact, change of course, sig­nif­i­cant insight or added value within the cof­fee indus­try.” Such an award, it is hoped, will not only inspire oth­ers to excel in their con­tri­bu­tions to the indus­try at the ear­li­est stage of their career but also encour­age the recip­i­ent to con­tinue with his or her con­tri­bu­tions well into the future.

Speaking of “his or her,” it should be noted that every effort is always made to solicit as many nom­i­na­tions as pos­si­ble and that the awardees, as a group, invari­ably rep­re­sent a cross-section of those nom­i­nated. Those that claim to have an inter­est in greater diver­sity after the awardees are announced per­haps should con­sider par­tic­i­pat­ing ear­lier in the process next year when the call for nom­i­na­tions is made, rather than after the fact. Ironically, the call for nom­i­na­tions was reopened twice this year, and yet the com­plaints with regard to the over­all diver­sity of the awardees were the shrillest.

Healthy democ­ra­cies with diverse, rep­re­sen­ta­tive leg­isla­tive bod­ies depend upon active, engaged par­tic­i­pa­tion, bar­ring any imped­i­ments to that par­tic­i­pa­tion. The awards process of our indus­try also depends upon its mem­bers bring­ing forth as many deserv­ing nom­i­nees as pos­si­ble in time for them to be con­sid­ered. While per­haps address­ing an area of con­cern and start­ing a dis­cus­sion, com­plain­ing after the fact does lit­tle to directly cor­rect the situation.

Perhaps, it is time for us, as an indus­try, to encour­age more diverse par­tic­i­pa­tion from out­side our trade than presently exists. Despite the vibrant par­tic­i­pa­tion of a rel­a­tively few very dynamic women, our trade is still male dom­i­nated, espe­cially at its high­est ech­e­lons of cor­po­rate lead­er­ship. One look around the room at any indus­try gath­er­ing will quickly show that our group has more work to do with regard to eth­nic diver­sity. The per­son or group that spear­heads that ini­tia­tive might even be deserv­ing of an award, per­haps The Special Recognition Award*, and surely a toast.

* “…is an indi­vid­ual award in recog­ni­tion of a person’s spe­cial con­tri­bu­tion of self to the SCAA. These con­tri­bu­tions may include but are not lim­ited to ded­i­ca­tion of time, vol­un­teerism, con­tri­bu­tions of pro­fes­sional skill, exem­plary work on a spe­cific SCAA project, or other notable con­tri­bu­tion of self. Importantly, the con­tri­bu­tions should be above and beyond the every­day and have had a long last­ing impact on the Association.”

Greener Green Coffee

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

It’s hard to believe that 45 years have passed since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, when Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin started a grass-roots move­ment empow­er­ing ordi­nary cit­i­zens to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment and denounce social injustice.

This bold step united indi­vid­u­als from vary­ing races, reli­gions, eco­nomic back­grounds, and polit­i­cal lean­ings from around the world, and led to the cre­ation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the pas­sage of pow­er­ful envi­ron­men­tal legislation.

With each pass­ing year, April 22nd com­mem­o­rates our renewed com­mit­ment to the envi­ron­ment and reminds us just how frag­ile our world really is.

So in honor of Earth Day – let’s ask our­selves, “Are we doing every­thing we can at home and in our busi­nesses to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment? Is there a pol­icy or a change that we can imple­ment this year to make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in our car­bon footprint? ”

At the most basic level, we can renew and expand our com­mit­ment to the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). For café oper­a­tors, the Specialty Coffee Association of America offers a dig­i­tal “Green Guide” with strate­gies for energy con­ser­va­tion, waste reduc­tion, water con­ser­va­tion, and tox­ics reduction.

For cof­fee roast­ers and bro­kers, mak­ing a renewed or increased com­mit­ment to sus­tain­able sourc­ing would offer far-reaching ben­e­fits. Zero net defor­esta­tion should be the absolute min­i­mum require­ment. We all should be striv­ing for pos­i­tive refor­esta­tion and the sourc­ing of equi­table, environmentally-friendly cof­fee which is free of pes­ti­cides and toxins.

For cof­fee grow­ers, coop­er­a­tives, agri­cul­tural project devel­op­ers, and investors, com­mit­ting to an addi­tional 3Rs (Reforest, Restore, and Rebuild) is extremely nec­es­sary in help­ing the envi­ron­ment to recover from the rav­ages of defor­esta­tion. This needs to be done in a way that also pro­vides sus­tain­able growth, sup­port, train­ing, and a pos­i­tive future for cof­fee farm­ing families.

Deforestation: The chick­ens come home to roost (or roast?)

The dan­gers of defor­esta­tion can­not be overem­pha­sized. National Geographic warns that the world’s rain forests could com­pletely van­ish in a hun­dred years at our cur­rent rate of defor­esta­tion. The World Wildlife Fund esti­mates that for­est loss is respon­si­ble for 20% of cur­rent global green­house gas emis­sions and that we are los­ing forests at the rate of 48 foot­ball fields per minute.

The cof­fee indus­try has a very pos­i­tive role to play in dimin­ish­ing the rate of defor­esta­tion – and thus the rate of global warm­ing. The ben­e­fits of shade grown cof­fee are unde­ni­able. Apart from the excep­tional taste inher­ent in beans that mature more slowly, shade trees reduce green­house gasses by fil­ter­ing car­bon diox­ide. They also pro­vide wel­come shel­ter to a dwin­dling migra­tory bird pop­u­la­tion, pro­vide nat­ural insect con­trol lead­ing to a reduced need for chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides. Shade canopies also increase mois­ture reten­tion in the soil, reduce ero­sion and run-off and thus lower the need for chem­i­cal fer­til­izer. This is how cof­fee was tra­di­tion­ally grown.

Despite the obvi­ous ben­e­fits of shade grown cof­fee, Science Daily recently reported that it is a shrink­ing por­tion of global cof­fee pro­duc­tion. An April 2014 study by sci­en­tists at the University of Texas in Austin found that shade grown cof­fee declined from 43 per­cent of total cul­ti­vated area to 24 per­cent since 1996. The report states that, “although global pro­duc­tion of shade grown cof­fee has increased, the area of land used for non-shade cof­fee has increased at a much faster rate.”

Why the increase in non-shade cof­fee when shade cof­fee pro­vides so many envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits? An unfor­tu­nate real­ity is that refor­esta­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity require money and tech­ni­cal know-how that the major­ity of cof­fee farm­ers sim­ply do not have. Many farm­ers work in iso­lated areas and do not have the resources to invest in new ini­tia­tives, or the finan­cial where­withal to wait a few years for the seeds of an invest­ment to bear fruit.

Therefore, encour­ag­ing refor­esta­tion needs to be a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort.

Being part of the Solution

Working with farm­ers in South America has given me a keen appre­ci­a­tion for the hard­ships and chal­lenges that farm­ers face. Many are eager to refor­est, to grow environmentally-friendly crops and to secure a sus­tain­able farm­ing future for their fam­i­lies and com­mu­nity – but sim­ply lack the resources to make this a reality.

ECOTIERRA has since estab­lished a country-wide Shade Coffee and Cocoa Reforestation Project in Peru, cer­ti­fied by ECOCERT under the Verified Carbon stan­dard (VCS) ban­ner, offer­ing finan­cial and tech­ni­cal assis­tance, mon­i­tor­ing, train­ing and project sup­port to 15,000 small farm­ing pro­duc­ers in 32 coop­er­a­tives from Ecuador to Bolivia.

This scal­able pro­gram is a sus­tain­able devel­op­ment tool that com­bines the prin­ci­ples of impact invest­ing as well car­bon finance. Its main objec­tive is to cre­ate a prof­itable and sus­tain­able agro-forestry sys­tem, involv­ing the con­tin­u­ous enroll­ment of reg­is­tered degraded and defor­ested lands for refor­esta­tion dur­ing a 10-year period end­ing 2022. It also aims to facil­i­tate the renewal of older plan­ta­tions using the best avail­able tech­niques and added cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, lead­ing to qualitative/quantitative crop improve­ments as well as higher incomes and sus­tain­abil­ity for farmers.

Involvement in the project comes in many forms and budgets:

• Some com­pa­nies invest as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility pro­grams, allow­ing them strengthen, develop, or give back to local relationships.

• Others aim to secure new sources of green cof­fee. Ecotierra pro­vides access to a “Greener Green Coffee” – zero net defor­esta­tion, equi­table, with a zero car­bon foot­print as trans­porta­tion emis­sions are offset.

• Other investors might seek to pur­chase the gen­er­ated car­bon offsets.

Project par­tic­i­pants share a com­mon vision of sus­tain­abil­ity through refor­esta­tion and net zero defor­esta­tion prin­ci­ples – work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with local com­mu­ni­ties to pro­mote con­ser­va­tion, pro­tec­tion, restora­tion, and sustainability.

Since 1970, Earth Day has grown to include 1 bil­lion par­tic­i­pants in 192 coun­tries — yet cli­mate change not only remains; it is accel­er­at­ing. The prob­lem is man-made.

Will you be part of the solution?

By Bernard Gauvin, Ecotierra

Etienne Desmarais, President & Co-founder of Ecotierra—

a devel­oper of envi­ron­men­tal & sus­tain­able devel­op­ment projects, 

uti­liz­ing the ben­e­fits of car­bon finance for the long term ben­e­fits of farm­ing communities. 

Visit for more infor­ma­tion on the SCCRP Project

Coffee Chemistry

Categories: 2014, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Welcome to this month’s issue of cof­fee sci­ence. Last month we briefly dis­cussed the role of two alka­loids: caf­feine and trigonelline, and briefly their role in cof­fee com­po­si­tion. This time we’ll explore some of coffee’s more com­mon com­po­nents, namely car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein, and dis­cuss how these seem­ingly ordi­nary com­pounds react to form coffee’s allur­ing aroma.

Carbohydrates make up roughly fifty per­cent of coffee’s total dry weight by com­po­si­tion. After roast­ing, remain­ing car­bo­hy­drates in the cup con­tribute to mouth-feel or body, with some stud­ies sug­gest­ing they are also respon­si­ble for the qual­ity of the foam com­mon in espresso beverages.

Although there are numer­ous types of car­bo­hy­drates in cof­fee, per­haps the most impor­tant is that of sucrose. Sucrose, or more com­monly known as table sugar, makes up six to nine per­cent in Arabica with a slightly less (three to seven per­cent) amount con­tained in Robusta cof­fee. During roast­ing, sucrose is read­ily decom­posed, and stud­ies have shown that up to 97 per­cent of the ini­tial sucrose con­tent is lost even in light roasts. Its role dur­ing roast­ing is enor­mous with a large por­tion of the avail­able car­bo­hy­drates par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Maillard and numer­ous oth­ers sec­ondary reac­tions. One class of impor­tant byprod­ucts cre­ated dur­ing roast­ing are those of organic acids. In its native green form, cof­fee con­tains neg­li­gi­ble amounts of formic, acetic, and lac­tic acid. Though once roasted, there is an expo­nen­tial increase in acid pro­duc­tion, along with a par­al­leled increase in cof­fee acid­ity. Since acid­ity plays an impor­tant role in assess­ing qual­ity, it’s no sur­prise why we see typ­i­cally higher lev­els of per­ceived acid­ity in Arabica cof­fee than Robusta, due in part, to its higher sucrose concentration.

Protein con­tent for both green Arabica and Robusta cof­fee varies between 10–13 per­cent and exists as free or bound pro­teins within the cof­fee matrix. Although actual con­cen­tra­tions vary within the bean, there are a num­ber of fac­tors that affect pro­tein con­tent. Factors such as level of mat­u­ra­tion, vari­ety, and stor­age con­di­tions all have an effect on pro­tein byprod­ucts dur­ing roasting.

During roast­ing, pro­teins com­bine with car­bo­hy­drates in what is per­haps the most impor­tant reac­tion for all ther­mally processed foods – the Maillard Reaction. This set of reac­tions, dis­cov­ered by a French chemist in 1910, is what is largely respon­si­ble for trans­form­ing the mere hand­ful of com­pounds found in green cof­fee to the com­plex matrix that cof­fee is today.

As tem­per­a­tures reach 150oC (302oF), the Maillard reac­tion react free pro­teins with sug­ars ulti­mately lead­ing to the for­ma­tion of hun­dreds of impor­tant aro­matic com­pounds. Furans, for exam­ple, impart sweet, caramel-like aro­mas, while more com­plex mol­e­cules, such as pyrazines, impart more nut­tier com­plex fla­vor notes. Ketones, or smaller mol­e­cules, also play a role with diacetyl (butane­dione) impart­ing buttery-butterscotch notes rem­i­nis­cent to fresh pop­corn. There are lit­er­ally hun­dreds and hun­dreds of aro­matic com­pounds being cre­ated dur­ing the roast­ing process, each con­tribut­ing a small por­tion to coffee’s com­plex aroma.

If you’ve ever won­dered why cof­fee is brown in color, it’s due to the very same reac­tion that cre­ates fla­vor. During roast­ing large mol­e­c­u­lar weight com­pounds com­bine with pro­teins to form com­plex brown col­ored melanoidins, which ulti­mately give cof­fee its char­ac­ter­is­tic color. Until recently, very lit­tle was known of these com­pounds, but over the years sci­ence has elu­ci­dated many of their struc­tural prop­er­ties asso­ci­ated with them. Perhaps the most promis­ing is that many of these com­pounds have potent antiox­i­dant, antimi­cro­bial, and anti-inflammatory prop­er­ties asso­ci­ated with them. This is great news con­sid­er­ing that cof­fee is the sec­ond to third most pop­u­lar bev­er­age con­sumed in the world, just after water and tea. It’s just another rea­son to enjoy another cup of cof­fee at home or your favorite café. Cheers!

Joseph A. Rivera holds a degree in food chem­istry and was for­merly the Director of Science & Technology at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). He’s the cre­ator of and newly devel­oped Coffee Science Certificate (CSC) pro­gram. He can be reached at

Marketing Miracles

Categories: 2014, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

When deal­ing with peo­ple, let us remem­ber we are not deal­ing with crea­tures of logic. We are deal­ing with crea­tures of emo­tion, crea­tures bustling with prej­u­dices and moti­vated by pride and van­ity.
—Dale Carnegie

In today’s mar­ket­ing world we can be con­fi­dent and cer­tain of two impor­tant facts:

1. The days when mar­keters or those who develop prod­ucts could sim­ply tell the con­sumer what they would have are over. While Steve Jobs in his own world might have thought that he could pre­dict what a per­son needed in life, before that indi­vid­u­als real­ized it, the real­ity of today’s hyper-connected mar­ket­place means that con­sumers are in the dri­ver seat and want to be included in the con­ver­sa­tion of buy­ing, using, and sharing.

2. While cof­fee is a mas­ter­ful prod­uct that is becom­ing ever more approach­able, it is a dis­ser­vice to not reflect on the emo­tional and phys­i­cal power of the ben­e­fits that such a tiny green bean can unleash upon an indi­vid­ual when trans­formed for con­sump­tion. And these per­sonal ben­e­fits are not just what cof­fee insid­ers think, it is from the heart and mind of the consumer.

Over the years and from many con­ver­sa­tions with cof­fee drinkers of all pro­files, a mindmap of how Americans think ratio­nally and emo­tion­ally about cof­fee can be drawn. Based on the point-of-view of the con­sumer, this blue­print lit­er­ally pro­vides the means of look­ing at the met and unmet needs of the indi­vid­ual, how exist­ing and new prod­ucts can be best posi­tioned, how busi­ness exec­u­tives see the impor­tance of work­place ben­e­fits such as cof­fee, and where the indus­try can uncover new oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth.


The image shown here pro­vides the pos­i­tive path­ways of how con­sumers think of cof­fee from prod­uct attrib­utes to per­sonal val­ues. These are the sto­ries of how peo­ple see and talk about the rel­e­vancy of cof­fee in their lives. And these sto­ries reveal for us the power of both what is known and what is pos­si­ble. From these var­i­ous ori­en­ta­tions we can gar­ner sev­eral impor­tant learn­ings and opportunities.

There are two macro sto­ries for cof­fee: one address­ing value and social­iza­tion, and the other is address­ing health and per­for­mance. Think of the social­iza­tion aspect as the “we” and the per­for­mance as the “me.”

Both of these ulti­mately lead to the per­sonal value of accom­plish­ment and self-esteem. That may sound like a long way from a cup in the morn­ing to deep psy­chol­ogy, but in fact if you think about the story of what cof­fee can do for you and how it makes you feel, the jour­ney is not that far. This is a prod­uct that elic­its deep feel­ings both socially and individually.

So how does a mindmap like this work in mar­ket­ing? Consider these few exam­ples and then think of how you could fit your offer­ing in what con­sumers are look­ing for now or into the future.

• The tagline, “The best part of wak­ing up is Folgers in your cup,” is a clas­sic expres­sion that com­bines the ele­ments of smell/aroma to wak­ing up to get­ting started. And in many adver­tise­ments, the Folgers ads have astutely linked this to stronger fam­ily rela­tion­ships and a sense of belong­ing that is visu­ally shown.

• Single-serve con­tin­ues to explode in pop­u­lar­ity and plays directly to cof­fee drinkers want­ing a vari­ety of choices, to sat­is­fy­ing a crav­ing for a par­tic­u­lar type of drink, to sup­port­ing the con­fi­dence that one has that they made the right choice, and ulti­mately lead­ing to per­sonal pride and self-esteem.

• The National Coffee Association (NCA) and the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) con­tinue to pub­lish the pos­i­tive phys­i­o­log­i­cal impact that cof­fee con­sump­tion has on humans, both green and roasted! Coffee not only pro­duces an emo­tive response, but a phys­i­cal one as well. Consumers view this in terms of feel­ing phys­i­cally bet­ter and an improved men­tal state. In this case, improved health leads directly to improved per­sonal per­for­mance tied back to coffee.

• Although the idea of third wave cof­fee is just tak­ing hold, the premise is that cof­fee should not be looked upon as a com­mod­ity, but rather as an expe­ri­ence. Indeed, if those in the indus­try want to under­stand how to seed a co-creative, col­lab­o­ra­tive, and customer-centric move­ment founded on higher order com­mu­nity impact, look no fur­ther than these val­ues. Chipotle did it with the Crow Foods video story.

But the big oppor­tu­nity, as one can see from the image, is a desire for less stress in life and a feel­ing of reju­ve­na­tion. This acts as a “bridge” between the social and the per­for­mance ori­en­ta­tions, which is a space that not many cof­fee brands or prod­ucts tend to play today. If there is mar­ket­ing “white space” in the cof­fee cat­e­gory, this is it – for now. In every soci­ety, per­sonal val­ues do not tend to rapidly change. Whereas prod­ucts and ser­vices come and go and are highly influ­enced by short-term events, the fun­da­men­tal human desire for pride, hap­pi­ness, suc­cess, secu­rity, self-esteem, and accom­plish­ment is con­stant. Coffee yes­ter­day, today, and tomor­row is a story of human val­ues. Lets tell the stories.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research con­sul­tancy that con­tin­ues to pio­neer the use of personal-values insights and mar­ket­ing. He can be reached at

Retailer/Roaster Profile

Categories: 2014, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hi! I am in my home coun­try of Russia in beau­ti­ful Saint Petersburg. Yay! It is still quite hard to find a good cup of cof­fee around here; you usu­ally have to travel across the city for it. It isn’t Seattle with inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops on every cor­ner and hip­sters paint­ing the scene, but very slowly it is get­ting there. There is one place you can count on to get a good fix – Bolshe Coffee! “Bolshe” means “more” in Russian, so More Coffee! Nice sim­ple name, ah? It is also located in a grot. How cool is that? I had a chat with the owner – Nicholas Gotko. Listen up:

V. Please tell us about the cof­fee scene in Saint Petersburg. I have noticed lots of cof­fee shop chains, but not so many inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops around.
G. I believe this year to be the best so far for inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops in Saint Petersburg, and I think that this inter­est will only keep grow­ing until we have enough neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shops to serve all of the locals on every street and cor­ner. Right now, many have to travel far to get a good qual­ity cup in a friendly, relaxed envi­ron­ment. Just in the past year, my team, which includes me, my wife Zoya, and Nicholas and Tatyana Yarlanskie, man­aged to open five inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops. All of these shops have dif­fer­ent names, themes, and carry a local char­ac­ter. Meaning, they are meant pri­mar­ily for clients study­ing and work­ing nearby.

V. I am sure that many of our read­ers are very inter­ested to know more about the specifics of doing busi­ness in Russia. I know that west­ern­ers have that idea that the mafia still rules the streets here, and you also have to have a sig­nif­i­cant startup cap­i­tal to do any kind of busi­ness. Is it so?
G. The mafia isn’t really here any­more, at least not in small busi­ness. It is eas­ier to open your own busi­ness now; no one helps, but at the same time no one inter­feres too much. We didn’t have sig­nif­i­cant startup cap­i­tals; nei­ther did we have rich par­ent spon­sors. We got together with my part­ners, took out some loans, and started work­ing. We real­ized that it would be naïve to com­pete with giant fran­chises. So we decided to play by our own rules. We decided to sell a high qual­ity prod­uct for a lower than mar­ket price, even though we have a dif­fer­ent stan­dard of prepa­ra­tion. For our cof­fee we use a por­tion of 18 – 20 grams instead of the reg­u­lar six to nine grams. In addi­tion to that, our lever cof­fee machines intro­duce a com­pletely dif­fer­ent level for the Russian market.

V. Your spot is cool! A grot sounds like a great fit for a cof­fee shop. Did you have to intro­duce sig­nif­i­cant changes to the place’s archi­tec­ture before you opened?
G. A search for the per­fect place took almost six months. In the end, we got the grot! Until we got the place, the grot was empty for about three years. There were some ques­tion­able beer places here pre­vi­ously, and that is why when we got here, every­thing was pretty beaten up. We had to redo many things using our own hands. We got help for very chal­leng­ing tasks only; break­ing some walls, chang­ing electrics, and prepar­ing every­thing for a paint job. Overall, con­struc­tion and prepa­ra­tion to open took us about a month, so every­thing went pretty quickly. We didn’t change place’s archi­tec­ture, we decided to work with what we had and fit in organ­i­cally. Many believe that a major­ity of your busi­ness expenses should be spent on the inte­rior, but we believe that equip­ment and prod­uct are more impor­tant than fancy walls.

V. Did you get into cof­fee busi­ness right from the begin­ning of your pro­fes­sional career?
G. Before I opened my shops, for almost 10 years I worked as an engi­neer in big cof­fee com­pany, and my part­ner Nicholas was a vice pres­i­dent in a roast­ing com­pany. In the mean time, we also par­tic­i­pated in barista cham­pi­onships and even judged some of them. We are still judges in cham­pi­onships orga­nized by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). It is a very pres­ti­gious title in cof­fee world. To become a judge, one must take up a really hard exam that lasts four days, and only if passed prop­erly, you would receive an offi­cial cer­tifi­cate. Plus, you have to recon­firm that cer­tifi­cate every two years.
The idea of open­ing our own shops was in our heads for a long time before we started to act on it. The first talk about it was about three or four years ago, but we were too busy with cur­rent work at a time, until finally about a year ago, we started Bolshe Coffee!

V. So what is your secret, why peo­ple love you so much?
G. When we first thought about open­ing up a shop, we had dif­fer­ent vari­ants of what the final result would be. We decided not to play by the rules: we decided to offer excel­lent, some­times even rare cof­fee for an afford­able price. Basically, instead of mak­ing an uptight place with high prices (of which there are many in Russia), we waned to cre­ate a space where every­one has the oppor­tu­nity to drink great cof­fee for a com­fort­able price.

We suc­ceeded in our orig­i­nal task of not to cre­ate a flash that would appear and then blow out. Rather, we cre­ated a place that would become a part of the city’s leg­end that every­one would know about. Our places have con­stant move­ment, action, and life in them. It is really impor­tant for our clients to feel our pres­ence and that we care once inside our shops. We have the envi­ron­ment where one can be com­fort­able and you don’t have to pre­tend that you are some­one else. We com­mu­ni­cate this mes­sage to our clients very clearly. We have peo­ple in expen­sive suites next to sporty clients in shorts. We have mates with dogs and lit­tle chil­dren roam­ing around freely. Our envi­ron­ment is so easy­go­ing. “I want cof­fee and I go get it at Bolshe!” We made it sim­ple as that in Saint Petersburg.

V. Any advice to other busi­ness own­ers like you in both Russia and other coun­tries?
G. I would say learn to con­trol your fears. Our biggest fear was that we weren’t sure if the Russian men­tal­ity would halt our progress – “if some­thing is cheap, then it must be bad.” However, every­thing actu­ally turned out to be great! It was more of a pleas­ant shock for our clients, they were con­fused, “Why is every­thing is so good and why does it cost so lit­tle?!” We love our cus­tomers, and we try to show it in the ways I described ear­lier.
Since we men­tioned fear though, I would say that fear is a good thing! However, it has to be the kind of fear that is moti­va­tional, the one that makes you want to keep going fur­ther, even though you are scared. This kind of fear makes you more care­ful about the qual­ity of your job. Lastly, I would like to add my most impor­tant advice: “Do your job well, and you won’t run away from success!

Bolshe Coffee!

Alexandrovsky Park 3-G,
Saint Petersburg, 197101
Nicholas Gotko

Coffee Chemistry

Categories: 2014, FebruaryTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Every­day mil­lions of peo­ple around the world begin their day reli­giously with a morn­ing cup of cof­fee. Though today we eas­ily iden­tify cof­fee in its bev­er­age form, it wasn’t always this way in the begin­ning. Throughout his­tory, cof­fee has taken on sev­eral phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions, ini­tially serv­ing as an energy source when nomadic tribes com­bined cof­fee berries with ani­mal fat as an early form of an energy bar. Later it was con­sumed as a tea, then wine, and finally to the bev­er­age we’ve come to iden­tify today.  But how much of coffee’s chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion do we actu­ally know? Fortunately, over the past half-century sci­en­tists have made sig­nif­i­cant progress, which has allowed them to unlock more than the 1,000 com­pounds found in roasted cof­fee. In this arti­cle of Coffee Science we’ll briefly dis­cuss a fam­ily of com­pounds called ‘alka­loids,’ which serve an impor­tant role in coffee’s unique chem­i­cal composition.

For many, cof­fee drink­ing is sim­ply a deliv­ery medium for a potent alka­loid we have come to iden­tify as caf­feine, or oth­er­wise known as 1,3,7 – trimethylx­an­thine.  Although caf­feine is typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with cof­fee, its pro­duc­tion within the plant king­dom spans across numer­ous other plant species. Mate, for exam­ple, which is tra­di­tion­ally con­sumed in parts of Uruguay and Argentina, con­tains less than one per­cent by weight. Whereas, teas of Camellia sine­sis, which orig­i­nated in China, con­tain almost three times the con­cen­tra­tion of caf­feine than Arabica.

But for humans, caf­feine is very unique. Thus far, we are the only liv­ing forms on Earth that read­ily seek caf­feine for both its stim­u­la­tory and psy­cho­log­i­cal effects.  For all other life forms, caf­feine is a potent toxin capa­ble of ster­il­iza­tion, phy­to­tox­i­c­ity, and anti­fun­gal prop­er­ties. As such, sci­en­tists believe that caf­feine, with its intensely bit­ter taste, has evolved as a prim­i­tive defense mech­a­nism in cof­fee ensur­ing its sur­vival in the wild for thou­sands of years. It’s no sur­prise then, that the caf­feine con­tent of the more “robust” Robusta species is almost dou­ble that of the more del­i­cate Arabica. The belief is that as insects attack the cof­fee cherry, they are deterred by the bit­ter taste of caf­feine and sim­ply move on to other crops.

Another less known alka­loid that shad­ows in the light of caf­feine is that of trigonelline. In Arabica cof­fee, trigonelline con­cen­tra­tions make up roughly 1 per­cent by weight with a slightly less con­cen­tra­tion (0.7 per­cent) found its Robusta coun­ter­part. Although its con­cen­tra­tion is slightly less than that of caf­feine, it plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the devel­op­ment of impor­tant fla­vor com­pounds dur­ing roast­ing. But unlike that of caf­feine, which sur­vives the roast­ing process, trigonelline read­ily decom­poses as tem­per­a­tures approach 160°C (320°F).  Model stud­ies have shown that at 160°C, sixty per­cent of the ini­tial trigonelline is decom­posed, lead­ing for the for­ma­tion of car­bon diox­ide, water, and the devel­op­ment of a large class of aro­matic com­pounds called pyridines. These het­e­ro­cyclic com­pounds play an impor­tant role in fla­vor and are respon­si­ble for pro­duc­ing the sweet/caramel/earthy-like aro­mas com­monly found in coffee.

TableAnother impor­tant byprod­uct pro­duced dur­ing the decom­po­si­tion of trigonelline is nico­tinic acid, or vit­a­min B3, more com­monly known as niacin. Depending on roast­ing con­di­tions, niacin can increase up to ten times its ini­tial con­cen­tra­tion, pro­vid­ing any­where between 1mg of niacin per cup for Americano-type cof­fees and roughly two to three times this con­cen­tra­tion in espresso-type bev­er­ages. When one con­sid­ers that most Americans con­sume about 3.2 cups of cof­fee per day, accord­ing to the NCA (2008), makes cof­fee an ample source of dietary niacin.

So far that’s great news for peo­ple with an unbal­anced diet, but there is another ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fit to cof­fee that is even more sur­pris­ing. Recently, Italian sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered that drink­ing cof­fee might lower our inci­dence of den­tal caries. According to researchers, trigonelline works by pre­vent­ing the adhe­sion of mucus-like acid byprod­ucts onto teeth, which would oth­er­wise lead to den­tal caries. In the end, it looks like drink­ing a cup of cof­fee may not only keeps the doc­tor away, but the den­tist too.

Joseph A. Rivera holds a degree in food chem­istry and was for­merly the Director of Science & Technology at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). He’s the cre­ator of the cof­fee sci­ence por­tal and newly devel­oped Coffee Science Certificate (CSC) pro­gram. He can be reached at

Myanmar And Specialty Coffee: Critical Crossroads

Categories: 2013, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

When I received an invi­ta­tion from Winrock International to vol­un­teer in USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Myanmar’s nascent spe­cialty cof­fee sec­tor, I had only one ques­tion: “Myanmar and Specialty Coffee?” The two con­cepts just didn’t seem to fit together. I looked at the nicely framed SCAA “Coffees of the World” map in my office and Myanmar (or Burma) was not even iden­ti­fied as a cof­fee pro­duc­ing coun­try – Arabica or Robusta. I did a quick Internet search and found very few ref­er­ences to cof­fee in Myanmar. So, I accepted Winrock’s invi­ta­tion immediately.

I knew that Myanmar had gained inde­pen­dence from Great Britain in 1948 and had been under mil­i­tary rule from 1962 until 2010. Just recently the coun­try has started to open up to the world and to more global trade. President Obama was in Myanmar just over a year ago to encour­age lead­ers to con­tinue on their paths toward democ­racy and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the global com­mu­nity. The coun­try is still recov­er­ing from Cyclone Nargis, that took more than 130,000 lives in 2008. Today it remains one of the planet’s least devel­oped nations by many mea­sures. Yet, things are changing.

I arrived in Yangon in mid-November, and I was met at the air­port by Dr. Ai Thanda Kyaw, a Country Director for Winrock International who trav­eled with me my entire stay, and patiently trans­lated all of my inter­ac­tions with farm­ers and oth­ers. As the first vol­un­teer to work in Myanmar’s cof­fee sec­tor, I had been asked to pro­vide some train­ing on how cof­fee is farmed, processed, roasted, eval­u­ated, and mar­keted in more mature cof­fee ori­gins around the world, and to ulti­mately rec­om­mend how the entire sec­tor could be strength­ened to help the coun­try take advan­tage of this high-value agri­cul­tural prod­uct. In short, my role was to explore, to lis­ten, to train, and to make rec­om­men­da­tions for the future devel­op­ment of Myanmar’s cof­fee sector.

Before leav­ing Yangon, we met with USAID and with the 3,000-member Myanmar Fruit, Flower, and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association (MFVP) that was a host orga­ni­za­tion for my trip. The MFVP sup­ports its mem­bers with a vari­ety of ser­vices includ­ing exportation.

Our first stop was the Shwe Pu Zun cof­fee estate in Yet Sauk, located in Shan State near the cen­ter of the coun­try. Shwe Pu Zun is a large ver­ti­cally inte­grated busi­ness that has 1,000 employ­ees who work on cof­fee farms in Yet Sauk and Pyin Oo Lwin, or at a 200-head dairy farm, a bak­ery oper­a­tion, a café and retail bak­ery, all in Yangon.

Shortly after our arrival, we met to dis­cuss our agenda over lunch, which like all meals dur­ing the two weeks, always included rice at the cen­ter of the plate, with a vari­ety of smaller dishes to sam­ple and mix with the rice. These dishes were pri­mar­ily veg­eta­bles, dark leafy greens, beans, baby bees, and deep-fried small fish, with many dishes hav­ing some “heat.” All meals were accom­pa­nied by a soup broth, green tea, and finally coffee.

Eighty per­cent of the farm’s 300 acres is planted in cati­mor, grow­ing organ­i­cally under a shade canopy of care­fully planted sil­ver oak, mango, rub­ber, and macadamia trees. The farm also has test plots of SL 34, #795, and yel­low caturra, and expects to have over 1,000 acres in cof­fee pro­duc­tion by 2018.

The Shwe Pu Zun farm in Yet Sauk (alti­tude: 3,000–3,300 ft.) is one of the best mod­els of sus­tain­abil­ity and diver­si­fi­ca­tion I have seen any­where in my cof­fee trav­els. The entire farm is pow­ered by its hydro-electric gen­er­a­tor, which also has an inge­nious sys­tem to pump water uphill to pro­vide drip irri­ga­tion for cof­fee, macadamia nut, and mango pro­duc­tion. It cap­tures and uses methane from a bio-digester; has its own large organic com­post facil­ity that uses rice husks, molasses, and other local ingre­di­ents to pro­duce a very clean “black gold;” it treats water from milling, and sun dries its cof­fee on screened beds that are neatly placed on the well-marked cement patio.

After I spent a full day train­ing the staff of Shwe Pu Zun, we drove over four hours to Ywar Ngan Township (alti­tude: 4,300–4,500 ft.) where we worked with 60 unor­ga­nized, small-scale farm­ers, some of whom had trav­eled over 20 miles to attend the train­ing and dis­cus­sion. Here, the cof­fee is shade grown organic cat­uai that is grad­u­ally replac­ing older vari­eties. The well-diversified farm­ers have no out­let for their cof­fee other than Chinese traders who offer one price, regard­less of qual­ity. This “take it or leave it” approach leaves farm­ers lit­tle or no incen­tive to improve qual­ity and no oppor­tu­nity to nego­ti­ate the price. During my time with the farm­ers, I encour­aged them to orga­nize them­selves so that they could nego­ti­ate together, enjoy economies of scale, share tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion, and join the pro­posed Myanmar Coffee Farmers and Exporters Association.

Our final stop was the Shwe Pu Zun farm in Pyin Oo Lwin (alti­tude: 3,500–3,800 ft.), which was a near replica of the farm in Yet Sauk in terms of vari­eties, sus­tain­able farm prac­tices, and over­all excel­lent farm man­age­ment. Nearby, we vis­ited the impres­sive Coffee Research, Information, Extension & Training Centre in Pyin Oo Lwin that, with proper resources, could be the hub of cof­fee tech­ni­cal assis­tance in Myanmar.

Once I returned to Yangon I had meet­ings with the Managing Director of Shwe Pu Zun oper­a­tions, with USAID, with farm man­agers, and the lead­er­ship of the Myanmar Fruit, Flower, and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association (MFVP). I shared my view that there are three crit­i­cal needs to be met to fur­ther develop the cof­fee sec­tor in Myanmar:

1) Organizational devel­op­ment at the com­mu­nity level (i.e., the devel­op­ment of small farmer asso­ci­a­tions or cooperatives)

2) Organizational devel­op­ment of the sec­tor at the national level (I pro­posed the estab­lish­ment of a Myanmar Coffee Farmers and Exporters Association – MCFEA)

3) Better resourced tech­ni­cal assis­tance and farm exten­sion services.

When I pre­sented the con­cept, the Myanmar Coffee Farmers and Exporters Association each endorsed this con­cept. Better yet, the MFVP said that they would wel­come and pro­vide it with needed incu­ba­tor space and guidance.

Much like Myanmar, the cof­fee sec­tor needs sup­port as it opens up. Being out of global cir­cu­la­tion for decades has its draw­backs; how­ever, it also presents sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ties, per­haps the largest being to learn from oth­ers’ mis­takes. The work I started needs follow-up, and Winrock International is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing its sup­port of Myanmar’s cof­fee sec­tor by pro­vid­ing addi­tional vol­un­teers to cre­ate a thriv­ing industry.

I believe that the “secret” of Myanmar’s spe­cialty cof­fee will soon emerge, first per­haps as a bou­tique offer­ing, and before long as a more main­stream cof­fee ori­gin. The poten­tial for a con­sis­tent sup­ply of high qual­ity, sus­tain­ably pro­duced cof­fee from Myanmar will be real­ized; it is just a mat­ter of time. Best of all, it is grown by some of the kind­est, most gen­tle peo­ple anywhere.

Rick Peyser is Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters where he has worked for over 24 years. He is a past President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the world’s largest cof­fee trade asso­ci­a­tion, and served six years on the Board of Directors of the Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) which sets the stan­dards for Fair Trade that ben­e­fit over 1,500,000 small-scale farm­ers around the world. Currently Rick serves on the Coffee Kids Board of Directors, the Food For Farmers Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors of Fundacion Ixil which is work­ing to improve the qual­ity of life in Ixil cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties in El Quiche, Guatemala.

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

The Café Femenino Foundation Story

Categories: 2013, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

3_13 10-AThe Café Femenino Foundation was first con­ceived in 2004 through the inspi­ra­tion of a group of women in Peru who decided to change their sit­u­a­tion in life and cre­ate their own orga­ni­za­tion and their own cof­fee prod­uct.  Women in most cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties through­out the world have no rights, they are une­d­u­cated, they are poor, and live in iso­lated rural com­mu­ni­ties.  Without rights, liv­ing in poverty and iso­la­tion, women are often abused, and they have no voice in their fam­ily.  So the Café Femenino Foundation was cre­ated to ben­e­fit women and their fam­i­lies in cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties around the world.

The foun­da­tion was licensed by the IRS as a 501©(3) in December 2004.  A week later, the tsunami hit in Sumatra, so the first thing the foun­da­tion did was work to raise funds to help the vic­tims in the rural cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties in Aceh, Sumatra.  Funds went directly to cof­fee coop­er­a­tives that used the funds to pur­chase water, rice, and funeral cloths for those who lost their lives.  Since that time, the foun­da­tion has funded grants in Kenya, Rwanda, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  The foun­da­tion works to raise funds to be able to fund grants that are received directly from cof­fee orga­ni­za­tions in all these coun­tries.  The door is open to hear the needs of these impov­er­ished small pro­duc­ers.  The requests are as var­ied as the coun­tries they live in.  Over the years, the foun­da­tion has funded grants for health train­ing pro­grams, san­i­ta­tion, can­cer screen­ings, schools, libraries, water projects, school books, food secu­rity that involves, ani­mal breed­ing pro­grams, quinoa pro­duc­tion, com­mu­nity gar­dens, and can­ning.  The foun­da­tion has funded income diver­si­fi­ca­tion such as weav­ing, embroi­dery, roast­ing and sell­ing their own cof­fee, micro-lending pro­grams, candy pro­duc­tion, and fruit tree pro­duc­tion.  The Café Femenino Foundation lis­tens to the needs of these small pro­duc­ers and is open to fund­ing all types of aid projects.  The funds are gen­er­ally over­seen by the cof­fee orga­ni­za­tions them­selves or by local NGO’s.  Construction projects such as schools or irri­ga­tion projects are done by the pro­duc­ers and the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves keep­ing project cost to a min­i­mum and allow­ing the foun­da­tion to accom­plish a great deal with the small­est cost possible.

The Café Femenino Foundation is an all-volunteer orga­ni­za­tion.  Funds come from dona­tions and fundrais­ing by com­pa­nies and indi­vid­u­als work­ing within the cof­fee indus­try.  Other orga­ni­za­tions such as churches and Soroptimists have also been donors to the foun­da­tion.  Coffee Fest, which puts on sev­eral regional trade shows each year, gra­ciously donates show floor space in every show to enable the foun­da­tion hold a Bid for Hope Silent Auction to help raise funds.  All items in this auc­tion are donated by the com­pa­nies that are exhibitors at each of the show.  This year, for the first time, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is also donat­ing show floor space to hold the “Call to Auction” silent auc­tion to help sup­port the Café Femenino Foundation.  All vol­un­teers in the foun­da­tion even pay their own way to each of the trade shows.  So the only money that the foun­da­tion spends is for mar­ket­ing, allow­ing the foun­da­tion to be able to donate most of the funds to fund the many grant requests that come into the foun­da­tion every year.

The reward for all the work that the foun­da­tion does every year to help these poverty stricken com­mu­ni­ties comes directly from these com­mu­ni­ties when we can see a home that now has clean run­ning water or a child that now can speak because he had cleft pal­let surgery through the rela­tion­ship the foun­da­tion main­tains with the Faces Foundation, located in Portland, Oregon.  We have seen the level of poverty improve, and we’ve seen cul­tural changes where women are now being respected because the woman now is able to gen­er­ate her own income.  Girls go to school where once they did not.  A com­mu­nity where all chil­dren failed school because of a lack of any resources or books now has its own library and a trained librar­ian is there to help the chil­dren learn.  So many won­der­ful things are hap­pen­ing in so many coun­tries due to the work of the Café Femenino Foundation.  But there are still so many fam­i­lies around the world that need help; there is still so much work to do.  We hope the cof­fee indus­try will con­tinue to help and sup­port the work of the Café Femenino Foundation.

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