Tag Archive for: specialty

by Dr. Simon Penson, Head of Cereals & Ingredients Processing, Campden BRI & Dr. Julian South, Head of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Campden BRI

Aroma Fingerprinting for Quality and Cost

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Coffee is one of life’s great plea­sures. The prepa­ra­tion and con­sump­tion of the per­fect cup of cof­fee is an essen­tial rit­ual for mil­lions of peo­ple around the world. But great cof­fee does not hap­pen with­out care and atten­tion at every stage of prepa­ra­tion. ‘From bean to cup’ may be a clichéd expres­sion, but it really cap­tures the essence of how per­fect cof­fee is made. Everyone in the chain, from farmer to con­sumer, needs to under­stand the essen­tials of achiev­ing that perfection.

Coffee is an agri­cul­tural com­mod­ity grown in over 100 coun­tries around the world. Guaranteeing the sup­ply of good qual­ity cof­fee that goes to make our morn­ing cuppa is a com­plex under­tak­ing. Different ori­gins have unique flavour pro­files. Harvests vary around the globe, and cof­fee qual­ity also varies within each har­vest. Therefore, ensur­ing a con­sis­tent flavour pro­file for any cof­fee must take account of the avail­abil­ity of green cof­fees with the right qual­ity and price.  To max­imise the value of their crop, farm­ers need to treat their har­vest to main­tain qual­ity and avoid dam­age caused by incor­rect stor­age and han­dling. Advice from agron­o­mists and agri­cul­tural out­reach sci­en­tists helps to develop the skills and exper­tise farm­ers need.

Once green cof­fee reaches con­sum­ing coun­tries, it is processed into a wide range of prod­ucts. The major appli­ca­tions are roast and ground cof­fee, sol­u­ble cof­fee and, increas­ingly, pods for on-demand cof­fee machines. Green cof­fee may be roasted and ground dif­fer­ently for each appli­ca­tion.  Increasingly sophis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy is applied in cof­fee pro­cess­ing, includ­ing cryo­grind­ing (of roast cof­fee) and freeze-drying (of sol­u­ble cof­fee). The main method cur­rently used to assess the qual­ity of cof­fee (green or roasted) is cup­ping.  This relies on the exper­tise of a hand­ful of expert tasters, whose job it is to main­tain the flavour integrity of a wide range of prod­ucts. Development of new prod­ucts as well as ensur­ing the con­sis­tency of exist­ing blends there­fore relies on a few expert indi­vid­u­als. The devel­op­ment of this exper­tise takes time as well as a sen­si­tive palate. The accu­racy of sen­sory assess­ment depends on the health of the asses­sor, and can suf­fer from subjectivity.

Analysis of cof­fee sam­ple is car­ried out using gas chro­matog­ra­phy and quadru­pole time-of flight-mass spec­trom­e­try (GC/QToF) analy­sis of cof­fee samples.

Untitled-1 copyNew devel­op­ments in aroma analy­sis tech­nol­ogy mean that it is now cost-effective to deploy sophis­ti­cated aroma analy­sis to a range of foods and bev­er­ages, includ­ing cof­fee. In fact, cof­fee is a very good can­di­date for this type of analy­sis because approx­i­mately 40 aroma com­pounds describe the flavour of cof­fee as expe­ri­enced by a sen­sory asses­sor. By analysing a set of cof­fees using this approach, it is pos­si­ble to describe each cof­fee by its unique aroma chem­istry ‘fin­ger­print’. The effect of dif­fer­ent roast­ing con­di­tions can be tracked chem­i­cally and linked to effects on flavour. Similarly, the effects of ori­gin, har­vest and stor­age can be chem­i­cally iden­ti­fied. What emerges quickly is a pow­er­ful tool to man­age the qual­ity of cof­fee products.

Untitled-1 copyMass spec­trum for cof­fee aroma show­ing the large num­ber of com­pounds present:  these make up the aroma ‘fin­ger­print’ of the coffee

Statistical map­ping of cof­fee aroma ‘fin­ger­prints’ using Principal Components Analysis.  This clearly demon­strates the sep­a­ra­tion of cof­fee types using aroma com­po­nents. Each sam­ple is a dif­fer­ent ori­gin and the dia­gram is a 2D rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a 3D map.

Red:  Brazilian Roast

Green:  Java Sumatra Roast

Brown:  Costa Rican Roast

Blue:  Colombian Supremo Roast

Grey:  Espresso Roast

A major appli­ca­tion of aroma fin­ger­print­ing is in devel­op­ing and cost-optimising blended prod­ucts. The bench­mark prod­uct can be defined by its aroma fin­ger­print, which is an objec­tive mea­sure of its flavour pro­file. The fin­ger­print can be fixed, so that any sub­se­quent blend is com­pared against this fixed ref­er­ence, which does not vary with time or rely on the state of a sen­sory asses­sor. So sup­pose I need to refor­mu­late my blend due to the avail­abil­ity of green cof­fee. I now have a fixed fin­ger­print to match. By fin­ger­print­ing the indi­vid­ual ori­gins I have avail­able, I can then use sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis to iden­tify the blends with poten­tial to best match my tar­get aroma fin­ger­print, all with­out hav­ing to taste a sin­gle cup of cof­fee. Additionally, I could over­lay price infor­ma­tion, so that I can then ask the ques­tion ‘which blend of ori­gins best matches my flavour tar­get at least cost?’  Once I have a small num­ber of can­di­date blends, I can cup them and decide which best meets my needs. Another very pow­er­ful appli­ca­tion for aroma fin­ger­print­ing is match­ing exist­ing blends. Suppose I am asked to match the flavour of Blend X. I can use a trial-and-error approach to blend­ing and cup­ping, and hope I hit upon some­thing close. Or I can use the aroma fin­ger­print of Blend X to help iden­tify com­bi­na­tions of ori­gins that match the tar­get, and then cup the best of these.

I should state clearly that aroma fin­ger­print­ing does not replace the need for cup­ping, but instead pro­vides objec­tive data to sup­port sourc­ing and blend­ing deci­sions. Availability and costs can also be fac­tored into the analy­sis so that a com­pre­hen­sive model for prod­uct man­age­ment can be devel­oped. It will make blend devel­op­ment and man­age­ment more effi­cient, and avoid some of the pit­falls inher­ent in rely­ing com­pletely on expert cupping.

To dis­cuss this work or any other coffee-related sci­ence in more detail, please con­tact Simon Penson

Dr. Simon Penson, Head of Cereals & Ingredients Processing, Campden BRI
Dr. Julian South, Head of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Campden BRI

Campden BRI ( pro­vides tech­ni­cal, leg­isla­tive and sci­en­tific sup­port and research to the food and drinks indus­try world­wide. We offer a com­pre­hen­sive “farm to fork” range of ser­vices. Our mem­bers and clients ben­e­fit from industry-leading facil­i­ties for analy­sis, prod­uct and process devel­op­ment, and sen­sory and con­sumer stud­ies, which include a spe­cial­ist brew­ing and wine division.

Coffee Service Corner

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

While in St. Louis at Coffee Fest, Kerri Goodman had the oppor­tu­nity to visit with DS Services’ (and COFFEETALK colum­nist) Ken Shea and chat about the state of the Coffee Service Industry and other related top­ics of inter­est. Here is that interview:

KG – It’s good to see you and oth­ers from the world of Coffee Service being more vis­i­ble at events such as Coffee Fest and Specialty Coffee Association show in Seattle. What is moti­vat­ing you to par­tic­i­pate in these venues?
KS – Thank you Kerri. There are a few rea­sons for get­ting closer to the spe­cialty world. It begins with our cus­tomers’ expand­ing knowl­edge of cof­fee and the need for the oper­a­tor com­mu­nity to remain in front of things. My com­pany, DS Services, and I per­son­ally, have a desire to become closer to the inter­na­tional mar­ket­place of cof­fee and tea and broaden our knowl­edge base. This knowl­edge is ben­e­fi­cial as we evolve our cof­fee ser­vice busi­ness and as the demand for spe­cialty cof­fee increases. Beyond that, as our indus­try lines of def­i­n­i­tion con­tinue to blur, hav­ing a well-developed under­stand­ing of re-sale venues will serve us well.

My com­pany has a his­tory of being mind­ful of and sup­port­ing dif­fer­ent phil­an­thropic efforts. The spe­cialty cof­fee world embraces sup­port at ori­gin and phil­an­thropy from mul­ti­ple angles. Our inter­ests are aligned.

I see a grow­ing num­ber of Coffee Service oper­a­tors in atten­dance at these events as the col­lec­tive jour­ney to ori­gin expands. Ours is a very aware and com­pet­i­tive indus­try as you know.

KG – What is your per­spec­tive on the evo­lu­tion of sin­gle cup brew­ing?
KS – While Keurig and Mars con­tinue to dom­i­nate mar­ket share, I see resur­gence with pods. The pod brew­ers are much more intu­itive than in the past. The prod­ucts are excel­lent and many yield a bev­er­age with extrac­tion rates and dis­solved solids yields that meet SCAA Gold Cup stan­dards. Brew by back made its mark with vari­ety and con­ve­nience. The next nat­ural step in this evo­lu­tion­ary process is bet­ter quality.

Hopper based sin­gle cup brew­ing options are expand­ing. The menu and cup size options that these brew­ers can pro­vide are vir­tu­ally lim­it­less. We see a grow­ing demand for drinks that incor­po­rate water sol­u­ble powders.

Then we have the non-Keurig licensed cups. It seems that at retail level, every week we see another brand on the shelves. The brand options are now quite extensive.

KG – So with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the new “cups,” how does a com­pany such as DS Services approach the oppor­tu­nity?
KS – We are a Keurig/Green Mountain KAD dis­trib­u­tor. We are not engaged in the sell­ing of non-K cup prod­ucts for Keurig brew­ers. But we rec­og­nize that there is a grow­ing com­pet­i­tive real­ity in two areas.

E-commerce pro­vides a ful­fill­ment oppor­tu­nity for all of the new entrants to our mar­ket place. Additionally, smaller oper­a­tors that have not been able to par­tic­i­pate as K-cup dis­trib­u­tors, are now able to pro­vide a cup solu­tion with good brew­ing equip­ment and cups that can be pur­chased with rea­son­able quan­tity min­i­mums at a com­pet­i­tive cost.

KG – So what led you into the world of cof­fee and cof­fee ser­vice in par­tic­u­lar and what is your cur­rent focus?
KS –It all began for me when I was hired to run a vend­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion busi­ness owned by Flowers Baking Company. Two cof­fee bro­kers approached me about dis­trib­ut­ing their prod­ucts. My first expe­ri­ence with cof­fee was with the Hills Brothers line. These bro­kers led me to the cof­fee ser­vice oppor­tu­nity which was accre­tive rev­enue for my com­pany as we were pri­mar­ily a vend­ing distributor.

After a few years, VSA, now Vistar, bought the Flowers oper­a­tions. I opted to join Servatron, a national dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pany head­quar­tered in Long Beach owned by Dick Allen, a true vision­ary and men­tor. It was then that I became a full-fledged cof­fee ser­vice distributor.

VSA then acquired Servatron. At that time I moved to the oper­a­tor side of the desk as my largest cus­tomer, Standard Coffee Service hired me to direct oper­a­tions. After ten years there, I ven­tured into the man­u­fac­tur­ing world and then formed a con­sult­ing busi­ness that ulti­mately led me back to Standard on a con­sult­ing gig and then an offer to return which I accepted.

In 2012, DS Waters bought Standard and here I am! My cur­rent respon­si­bil­i­ties focus on indus­try related activ­i­ties, multi depart­men­tal involve­ment and acqui­si­tions. It’s been quite a ride but both the jour­ney and des­ti­na­tion have proved rewarding.

Marketing Miracles

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

For many, con­ven­tional think­ing in busi­ness says to lower expec­ta­tions so that you can man­age those expec­ta­tions bet­ter – and beat those lower expec­ta­tions by doing just enough, not by over-performing. The prob­lem with low­er­ing expec­ta­tions is that it results in sus­tained poor per­for­mance; it will even­tu­ally demo­ti­vate employ­ees and cause value to be defined on com­modi­ti­za­tion. The cus­tomer will begin to asso­ciate those lower expec­ta­tions – yours and theirs – with weak expe­ri­ences that even­tu­ally lead to churn.

The National Automatic Merchandizing Association (NAMA) looked at today’s rapidly chang­ing world of consumption1.

In a ser­vice indus­try, there are two impor­tant com­po­nents that under­pin a win­ning busi­ness propo­si­tion: prod­ucts and ser­vices. NAMA looked at how con­sumers and decision-makers view their expec­ta­tions and lev­els of sat­is­fac­tion with both of these. While over­all sat­is­fac­tion is extremely high, expec­ta­tions are too low, with no sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ences between con­sumers and decision-makers on mea­sures of both prod­uct and ser­vice expec­ta­tions and sat­is­fac­tion.
Expectations    Satisfaction
Consumers                  21%        92%
Decision Makers        39% 97%

Expectations    Satisfaction
Consumers                  19%         91%
Decision Makers        40% 97%

Why would expec­ta­tions be so low while sat­is­fac­tion is so high?

Across the OCS indus­try, data shows that expec­ta­tions are this low because owner-operators and the indus­try at large need to bet­ter define their offer­ings in a way that aligns with what causes such high satisfaction.

How can expec­ta­tions be raised and what does it mean to do so? Communicate a promise as to what your prod­uct and your ser­vice offer­ing will deliver. Do this in your mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Do this in train­ing of employ­ees. Imbed this think­ing into the orga­ni­za­tion and with your suppliers.

Of course, this all begs the ques­tion: If we do raise expec­ta­tions, can we know that we’ll exceed them? Based on the data shown in the table, the answer is a resound­ing yes because the indus­try and owner-operators are already scor­ing so high on satisfaction.

The fol­low­ing rep­re­sent the most sig­nif­i­cant areas where you can both raise expec­ta­tions and have a sig­nif­i­cant, pos­i­tive impact on account reten­tion and acqui­si­tion. These are spe­cific areas in which to train your employ­ees, have dia­logue with accounts, and mea­sure progress:

•    Make help­ful equip­ment rec­om­men­da­tions based on the sit­u­a­tional needs of an account
•    Make help­ful prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions across cof­fee, tea, and water so that accounts and con­sumers know what else can be pro­vided beyond their exist­ing knowl­edge
•    Demonstrate that you under­stand the per­sonal needs of the indi­vid­ual at an account – from pro­cure­ment to the office man­ager to the employ­ees
•    Demonstrate that you under­stand and are knowl­edge­able of cof­fee, tea, and water. You are seen as the expert and there is trust in want­ing you to pro­vide guid­ance.
•    Show that you are think­ing ahead and let the account know about changes in the cof­fee, tea, and water space.
•    You are not there to just deliver a prod­uct. Act as a part­ner to help an account make bet­ter deci­sions.
•    Align incen­tive pay to your employ­ees that encour­ages them to act as part­ners or develop an account team that helps to facil­i­tate a part­ner­ing men­tal­ity.
•    Get per­sonal and ensure that you know peo­ple by name and their inter­ests, but more impor­tantly that they know your employ­ees by name and their inter­ests.
•    Train employ­ees on the impor­tance of per­sonal appear­ance and how they should carry them­selves when inter­act­ing with employ­ees and decision-makers. It may sound basic, but this is the “block­ing and tack­ling” of account management.

Is value sell­ing your prod­uct at the low­est price? No.
Is value treat­ing your cus­tomer as they would not want to be treated? No.
Is value skimp­ing on qual­ity? No.
Is value low­er­ing expec­ta­tions so you can beat them? No.
We define value as the total­ity of the expe­ri­ence one has with your prod­uct and ser­vice ver­sus their expec­ta­tions. Value is con­sis­tently exceed­ing expec­ta­tions – high expec­ta­tions – in the deliv­ery of your offering.

dabadie copy

When that is accom­plished, the types of out­comes you seek are real­ized – cus­tomer loy­alty, employee sat­is­fac­tion, pre­mium pric­ing, min­i­mal churn, and an emo­tional bond with your cus­tomer that with­stands stress­ful times in the future. Mediocrity is a los­ing for­mula. Lift your­self and oth­ers to expect – to ask for – greater.

1 NAMA, Office Beverage Service Strengths and Opportunities, November 2012.

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

The Last Mile

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The year was 2005, the place, Thailand’s stun­ning island of Phuket. I was on my maiden Asian voy­age under the flag of Illy’s University of Coffee, on a week­long train­ing mis­sion to local accounts. Behind the bar at a big resort, I was pulling shots to estab­lish a base­line. Shot after shot, the results were stun­ningly horrific.

Tapped out of neat lit­tle barista tricks, the cul­prit finally revealed itself: a strange, thin, icky black layer of some­thing where fil­ter met portafil­ter. I grabbed a screw­driver and flipped the fil­ter out. And then I flipped out. A thick layer of dry cof­fee entirely coated the machine’s innards, almost com­pletely block­ing its cen­tral hose.

I pre­sented the foren­sic evi­dence to my two barista trainees. “Wow, there are actu­ally two pieces,” blurted out Barista Guy Number One, remark­ing on the fil­ters, and clearly stunned by the rev­e­la­tion. “You broke it,” mum­bled a mis­guided Barista Guy Number Two.

This column’s name, The Last Mile, derives from its mis­sion to opti­mize qual­ity where it counts most: at the point of prepa­ra­tion. While this story’s telling is 100% accu­rate, of course it isn’t typ­i­cal. My qual­ity assur­ance and train­ing vis­its to hun­dreds of the world’s finer resorts, restau­rants and cafes, over 10 years, have found about 40% of machines thor­oughly clean, 25% cleaned just about well enough, another 25% insuf­fi­ciently clean, and the final 10%…let’s not go there.

But think about that for a moment. Assuming my expe­ri­ence can be extrap­o­lated to the world at large, 35% of the cof­fee served at bet­ter estab­lish­ments doesn’t stand a chance to deliver on its promise. And this in upscale envi­ron­ments, where one would think qual­ity means more than in your typ­i­cal setting.

Let’s explore just why keep­ing espresso machines clean is no quick, casual, rinse-and-go exer­cise. Like so much in cof­fee, it comes down to oils, which com­prise about 15 per­cent of Arabica beans and roughly 10–12 per­cent of Robusta. Oxygen is the arch-enemy of cof­fee oils, turn­ing them ran­cid after only an hour of con­tact. That means every piece of equip­ment that comes into con­tact with cof­fee in any form must be thor­oughly cleaned every day. At least.

Some pros rec­om­mend basic steps after every ses­sion and oth­ers every hour. Nick Griffith and Chris Tracy of urge per­form­ing a “wig­gle rinse” after every ses­sion to wash away grinds from the dis­per­sion screen, fol­lowed by a quick clean water back­flush. Then once every hour, scrub­bing the inside of the portafil­ter and the portafil­ter bas­ket. And in case you thought lesser-used machines don’t require as much vig­i­lance, think again. Since they don’t ben­e­fit from scald­ing water pass­ing through them fre­quently, the oils deposited within these machines cook on and cling even tighter, requir­ing more than hourly bas­ket rins­ing. Call it The Paradox of Lower Volume.

If you haven’t already, estab­lish a clean­ing sched­ule with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly actions, and post it some­where that is can’t-miss. Do a daily back­flush with Cafiza (more on clean­ing solu­tions below) and fully soak portafil­ters and bas­kets for at least a half hour; weekly, remove dis­per­sion screen and soak in Cafiza along with the fil­ter and portafil­ter, and clean the drain tube with Cafiza and water; monthly, check sta­tus of car­tridges for machines with inline water fil­tra­tion sys­tems; and at least yearly, descale to wipe out cal­cium (lime) deposits, which can add seri­ous bit­ter­ness when present in large quan­ti­ties. The harder the water, the more fre­quently you need to descale.

Now about cof­fee equip­ment deter­gent and other clean­ing agents. I sus­pect a big rea­son why machines are not cleaned often enough is worry about the dam­age that these prod­ucts can do. Happily, most of those fears are unfounded when choos­ing clean­ers specif­i­cally made for cof­fee and espresso sys­tems, avail­able from com­pa­nies like Urnex, which also sells prod­ucts under the Puro and Full Circle brands, the lat­ter pro­vid­ing a full port­fo­lio of eco-friendly prod­ucts. Joe Glo, a newer brand, has a cleaner that also inhibits lime.

milos copyCircling back to our Thai barista duo, I am indeed sur­prised to meet baris­tas out there who don’t under­stand that portafil­ters are com­prised of two pieces that need to be cleaned sep­a­rately. Sadly, I have encoun­tered that layer of “antique” cof­fee on more than one occa­sion. (See photo.)

If you just can’t bring your­self or your baris­tas to clean that equip­ment often enough, try and have some fun. A com­pany called Medelco may have just the thing: a French roast-scented cof­fee maker cleaner. That’s right, it smells like cof­fee. Not exactly my cup of tea (you’re wel­come, Tea Council of the USA), but really, who am I to judge? Well, OK, I am one to judge. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ll stick with cleaner that leaves that delight­ful scent called “clean” lin­ger­ing after a job well done.

Giorgio Milos is illy’s award-winning Master Barista and illy’s North American Barista in Residence who reg­u­larly ven­tures beyond the cup to study the biol­ogy and chem­istry of the cof­fee bean, con­tin­u­ally striv­ing to mas­ter the bev­er­age that is his pas­sion and profession.

Retailer/Roaster Profiles

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hello fel­low cof­fee mates! Today I am exited to present our inter­view with Brazilia’s co-founder Malcolm Stogo and the company’s cof­fee con­sul­tant John Moore. Enjoy:

Malcolm Stogo headshot copyV. Brazilia is a rel­a­tively new, yet ground­break­ing busi­ness. Why and how was it started exactly?
M.S. After we pur­chased our first cof­fee plan­ta­tion in Brazil, dur­ing a visit there I said to my busi­ness part­ner, Sheikh Fahad Al-Athel, “we should have a cof­fee café in New York, that is sim­ply “seed to cup.””

V. Why did Brazilia open up its first café in Germany?
M.S. The Sheikh fell in love with the town of Über­lin­gen and pur­chased a condo there on the Lake Constance, and on the bot­tom floor was a great space fac­ing the lake. We decided to open a café right there.

V. Malcolm, you are well known for your accom­plish­ments in the ice cream world. Why did you decide to get into cof­fee busi­ness? How well do cof­fee and ice cream go along together?
M.S. You could say it was luck, or being in the right place at the right time, but frankly I love cof­fee. Especially mak­ing it myself with dif­fer­ent blends. Coffee and ice cream go well together. Coffee as an ice cream fla­vor is very pop­u­lar and easy to make because some­times the sim­plest things work the best. If you use frozen dried instant cof­fee with a touch of cocoa, you can make a great ice cream flavor!

V. How would you describe your café’s con­cept? It looks very dif­fer­ent from what I have seen before – since it com­bines dif­fer­ent micro busi­nesses in one (cof­fee, food, ice cream, juices and smooth­ies) in a neat, rus­tic envi­ron­ment.
M.S. Brazilia Café is a one-stop des­ti­na­tion for healthy meals at any time of day, made with ingre­di­ents that are metic­u­lously sourced and pre­pared fresh in-house. We have ded­i­cated sta­tions for juices & smooth­ies, soup, salad, sand­wiches & baked goods, our home­made gelato and of course the Brew Bar, where our highly trained baris­tas use var­i­ous pour-over devices to brew per­fect cus­tom cups! We wanted it to be wel­com­ing and mod­ern. We worked with Costa Group from Italy, who also designed Mario Batali’s orig­i­nal Eataly loca­tion in New York, to incor­po­rate nat­ural ele­ments into an iron-clad urban space. It is chic yet relaxed at the same time, to accom­mo­date the peo­ple who live and work in the area; whether look­ing for some­thing quick on-the-go or a com­fort­able place to relax, hang out, and enjoy a great cof­fee experience.

V. How did/do American cus­tomers react to it?
M.S. Americans have come a long way in terms of knowl­edge and appre­ci­a­tion of cof­fee cul­ture, but they still have a way to go. I think that aspect of our café in par­tic­u­lar has edu­cated our cus­tomers, as we go beyond the coun­try of ori­gin or type of roast to details about our farm and pro­duc­tion meth­ods. They are eager to come back and try a dif­fer­ent roast or dif­fer­ent brew­ing method and are really dis­cov­er­ing as well as push­ing their palates. We are for­tu­nate to already have reg­u­lars from the neigh­bor­hood. We serve break­fast, lunch and din­ner and are always offer­ing new dishes, juices or sea­sonal items, so there is a lot to choose from. For exam­ple we put together a spe­cial menu for the World Cup, high­light­ing Brazilian flavors.

V. As a new busi­ness, and as a new busi­ness con­cept, what are some of the chal­lenges you faced and what tips would you give other busi­ness own­ers start­ing now?
M.S. The most impor­tant thing to remem­ber is never to for­get what orig­i­nal con­cept was in your mind. Do not let oth­ers sway you because a change might be more prac­ti­cal. And, make sure you are well cap­i­tal­ized to sur­vive 18 months in business.

V. What is in the future for Brazilia in terms of expan­sion and growth?
M.S. We plan to open two more Brazilia Café loca­tions in New York. We also plan on open­ing Brazilia Cafes in London, Istanbul, and São Paulo.

V. Finally, is there some­thing else you would like to add? Something to be shared with our cof­fee com­mu­nity.
J.M. Can’t empha­size enough all of the incred­i­ble work that Byron Holcomb and his team have been doing on the farm in Brazil. I can’t think of any other ver­ti­cally inte­grated cof­fee con­cept that has a for­mer com­pet­ing barista and cur­rent Q Grader run­ning the agri­cul­tural efforts. Connecting that with the team in NYC where another 3 Q Graders, Matt Swenson, Eric Taylor, and I are work­ing in the lab and roast­ery together with the team and we feel that we are poised to make the most of what nature gives us each year.

Brazilia Café

Malcolm Stogo
John Moore
+1 (646) 852 – 6348

Maxim Vershinin has been a colum­nist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years high­light­ing var­i­ous roast­ers and retail­ers in the indus­try. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion at Columbia University seek­ing a B.A. in economics.

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

When some­one adver­tises a ‘Direct Relationship’ cof­fee, they are claim­ing to know the pro­ducer. It’s pos­si­ble that this term is get­ting watered down in our indus­try, as I sus­pect that fewer and fewer hands are being shaken. The real­ity is that a direct rela­tion­ship can be hard and expensive.

To build these rela­tion­ships in a mean­ing­ful way, it’s impor­tant to under­stand both WHY and HOW to do it, and the pit­falls and expenses in mak­ing it happen.

The tricky thing with ‘Direct Relationship’ cof­fee is that it means what­ever the per­son is claim­ing it means. It’s not a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion reg­u­lated by any­one like ‘Fair Trade,’ ‘Bird Friendly’ or even ‘Organic’ marks are used. It can cause con­fu­sion with the con­sumer, and is occa­sion­ally a stretched truth by the pur­veyor. Here is what it should mean:

A Direct Relationship cof­fee has the basic com­po­nent of hav­ing shaken the hand, and made a deal with, the pro­ducer of the cof­fee. The pro­ducer is the farmer, farm or the coöper­a­tive that pre­pared the exportable lot.

This means that a lot of cof­fee on the mar­ket can­not be traced back to the farm but can be linked to a coöper­a­tive or a mill in that com­mu­nity. Where it starts to get fuzzy is when an exporter mixes cof­fee from sev­eral micro regions and in effect becomes the pro­ducer. In this sit­u­a­tion the cof­fee should not be con­sid­ered direct rela­tion­ship, as there is no trace­abil­ity back to the hands that grew it.

Anybody that has tried this model will tell you that the most impor­tant things are:

1)    It is really hard to do.
2)    It is really expen­sive to do.

It’s hard because you must become a world explorer. If you have cof­fee from 15 ori­gins and call them Direct Relationship cof­fees, it implies that you went to 15 ori­gins and made deals with your part­ners, then arranged the expor­ta­tion of that cof­fee to your roast­ing facility.

It’s expen­sive because it’s esti­mated that each direct trade rela­tion­ship costs a MINIMUM of $5,000 to get started. Realistically, it’s closer to $10,000. This includes travel, trans­la­tors, secu­rity, salary, etc. for every region. Assume that you are look­ing for an entire con­tainer of 37,500 pounds; you just added 22.6 cents per pound. That’s easy enough to pass on to a cus­tomer. If you’re look­ing for 10 bags, you just added about $7.57 per pound.

The answer must there­fore be to get help with build­ing the rela­tion­ships so costs can be reduced. There are sev­eral inter­est­ing ways that this can hap­pen. Here are a few:

Roasters Guild Origin Trips
For many smaller shop own­ers and roast­ers, this trip each year is the first trip to an ori­gin coun­try. It is well orga­nized, edu­ca­tional, and impar­tially shows you sev­eral grow­ing areas. You meet farm­ers right on their farm and at din­ner events where you can talk socially. You’re also trav­el­ling with like-minded peo­ple, which may be able to be importer partners.

CQI Q-Certification Class at Origin
If you’re look­ing to build these rela­tion­ships and you’re not a Q-Grader, then it’s time to step up and become one. This class gives you sev­eral impor­tant tools to com­mu­ni­cate flu­ently once the rela­tion­ship with your pro­ducer begins. Many of these classes are taught at ori­gin, and are designed to include pro­duc­ers. Following the class you can go visit your classmate’s farm or coöper­a­tive, apply your new com­mu­ni­ca­tion / eval­u­a­tion skills and even order some coffee!

Specialty Coffee Auction Events
Producing coun­tries usu­ally have an asso­ci­a­tion char­tered with pro­mot­ing spe­cialty cof­fee from their coun­try. Often this results in an auc­tion after har­vest. A typ­i­cal for­mat is to have a team of inter­na­tional judges / buy­ers come to the coun­try and expe­ri­ence around 50 spec­tac­u­lar cof­fees. There you’ll meet sev­eral of the pro­duc­ers that have sub­mit­ted the cof­fee. You can shake their hands and bid on their cof­fee. Usually there will already be a mech­a­nism to export that cof­fee to your country.

SCAA ‘The Event’ Trade Shows
If you can’t afford to go to them, this yearly trade show brings them to you! Stop by their booths on the floor and spend the rest of your time in the cup­ping pavil­ions where you can taste their cof­fee and start mak­ing deals on the spot. The farmer isn’t always present, but a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can facil­i­tate an introduction.

Those are just a few obvi­ous ways to start. You can also do things like become a Coffee Corp Volunteer with CQI, find a pri­vate com­pany that puts on ori­gin trips, or just go visit the coun­try and hire a guide.

Just remem­ber; to be a Direct Trade you should be able to say, “I looked the pro­ducer in the eye, shook his hand, and made a deal.” Anything else is just pre­tend­ing to be a Direct Trade.

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 Power of Good

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

What Could be Lurking in your Favorite Café Snacks…

Whole grains are sources of car­bo­hy­drates. There is a lot of con­cern about carbohydrate-laden diets. Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, heart dis­ease, dia­betes, pre­ma­ture aging, and pre­ma­ture death are all asso­ci­ated with con­sis­tently eat­ing large amounts of processed carbohydrates.

However, whole grains are “com­plex car­bo­hy­drates,” con­tain­ing the entire grain: the bran layer, endosperm, and germ. Besides their car­bo­hy­drate com­po­nent, whole grains con­tain pro­tein, fat, fiber, vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and other nutri­ents as well.1

High fiber con­tent is an impor­tant advan­tage of whole grains. Nutritionists gen­er­ally agree that dietary fiber helps reduce the inci­dence of dia­betes, irri­ta­ble bowel dis­ease, colon and rec­tal can­cers, and hem­or­rhoids. High fiber con­tent also helps main­tain vas­cu­lar health and low cho­les­terol lev­els, pre­vent­ing heart disease.2

Cooked whole grains are not con­sid­ered “processed”. They send glu­cose into the blood­stream slowly. In this way, both glu­cose and insulin remain at healthy lev­els. One could become over­weight from overeat­ing whole grains, but insulin resis­tance and dia­betes are unlikely. Sugary, starchy foods such as chips, fries, cook­ies, and sodas have high Glycemic Index Values, mean­ing the sug­ars and starches in these foods are rapidly turned to glu­cose. In brief, high blood sugar lev­els lead to high blood insulin lev­els and ulti­mately, insulin resistance.

The basis of the index is a com­par­i­son of car­bo­hy­drates in foods with either blood glu­cose itself or white bread. In both cases, 100 is the standard.3 For more infor­ma­tion about spe­cific foods, try

Cooking grains: Prepare whole grains ahead of time. Using a pan with a tight fit­ting lid, bring water to a boil, add the grain, and stir. Return the lid, bring back to boil­ing for 5–10 min­utes. Turn off the heat and let the grain sit.

Sit overnight and the grain will be cooked by morn­ing. After prepa­ra­tion, they may be refrig­er­ated for use dur­ing the week. They do not freeze well.

Raw whole grains can be stored in dry, cool con­di­tions for about a year. (Flours should be used within sev­eral months of pur­chase. Their vit­a­min E con­tent dis­si­pates in about five days.) A half cup (100 grams) of most raw grains ranges between 340–389 calo­ries. The caloric dif­fer­ence in a cooked serv­ing depends on the amount of water used for cook­ing. Greater amounts of water equal fewer calo­ries – and less sus­te­nance. Most grains are cooked with dou­ble the vol­ume of water to grain.

Although most peo­ple tol­er­ate grains well, for oth­ers some grains can be dangerous.4 Celiac dis­ease describes a dan­ger­ous sen­si­tiv­ity to gluten, which can dam­age the lin­ing of the small intes­tine when gluten is eaten. In addi­tion, many peo­ple are sim­ply aller­gic to wheat.

There are lots of gluten-free grains besides wheat.

Gluten free grains include: quinoa, corn, mil­let, buck­wheat (not a wheat), sorghum, ama­ranth, mon­tina, teff, and wild rice. Most peo­ple can also tol­er­ate brown and white rice (

1 One of these is lignin, a group of com­pounds with anti-tumor and antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties. Lignin is related to cel­lu­lose. It helps form the cell walls of plants and joins them together. Second only to cel­lu­lose, lignin is one of the most abun­dant organic poly­mers on Earth.
2 More in depth cov­er­age of fiber is dis­cussed in Nutrition News, “Nature Calls!”.
3 In Australia, food man­u­fac­tur­ers are encour­aged to label their prod­ucts with glycemic index sym­bols, indi­cat­ing a place­ment of low, medium, or high. With the increase in obe­sity and dia­betes in the USA, such a label­ing pro­ce­dure should be manda­tory.
4 See Nutrition News, “Go Gluten Free!” for details.

Siri Khalsa is the edi­tor of Nutrition News, and she has been writ­ing for the pub­li­ca­tion for many years. She has the pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion to edu­cate read­ers on the health ben­e­fits on tea and coffee.

Introducing CoffeeTalk’s “Virtual Roaster’s Challenge”

Categories: 2014, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

For any­one who has been to a Roasters Guild retreat, you know that there are fun and cre­ative chal­lenges each year to stim­u­late your cre­ative side and to chal­lenge your team’s skills in the roast­ing field. We have decided to try some­thing new here at CoffeeTalk. Welcome to the first annual (or pos­si­bly the last depend­ing on how it goes) Virtual Roaster’s Challenge!

‘MacGyver Roasting’
If you do not know what ‘MacGyvering’ is, then you are prob­a­bly under 30! In an 80’s tele­vi­sion show, the lead char­ac­ter, Angus MacGyver, was able to find and use tools around him to do amaz­ing things. If he had a stick of gum, a paper­clip, a nine-volt bat­tery, and his trusty penknife, then he could dis­arm a mis­sile or take down a Sherman tank. He was that smart and cre­ative. If you have been roast­ing for any time, you will have had to ‘MacGyver’ your roaster in some way to keep roasting—jumping a kill switch, duct tap­ing the, well, duct­ing that of which is falling apart, etc.

For your chal­lenge, we are going to present you with some items and you need to build, rather MacGyver together, a sam­ple roaster. This is, of course, a vir­tual roaster because if any of you get a lit­tle TOO cre­ative, a vir­tual roaster will not burn down your shop, and we do not have any lia­bil­ity issues!!!

Unlike the Roasters Guild Retreat, this is not group work. You are all on your own! You will have 30 days to sub­mit your solu­tions. Here is what you have to work with:

The MacGyver sta­ples:
1)    The pock­etknife: (Think Swiss Army knife)
2)    A stick of chew­ing gum with a foil wrap­per
3)    20 feet of string
4)    A fully charged nine volt battery

A few chal­lenge add-on items
1)    Hair dryer (assume you have access to elec­tric­ity)
2)    A roll of tin foil
3)    A can of extra chunky beef stew
4)    A camp stove with fuel
5)    2 rolls of duct tape
6)    1 bro­ken refrig­er­a­tor (all of the parts are there, it just stopped cool­ing last week)
7)    A pile of ¾ inch diam­e­ter sticks in three foot lengths
8)    A smart phone with no recep­tion or Wi-Fi (you can never get a sig­nal when you need it)
9)    A cast iron skil­let
10)    A 1–5 quart pot
11)    A deck of play­ing cards
12)    A 9 iron – right handed – Ping!
13)    1 large towel
14)    An umbrella
15)    10 empty Coke bot­tles
16)    Four coconuts
17)    A Minnesota snipe (If you do not know what one is or how to use one, ask me at the next Roasters Guild Retreat in August. Skamania has snipe too.)

Tools nearby:
1)    Hacksaw
2)    Hammer
3)    Small spot welder
4)    And of course, the trusty pock­etknife men­tioned earlier.

Handy ‘other items’:
1)    Anything you were wear­ing when you started the chal­lenge. Things like shoelaces, glasses, a belt etc.

A cou­ple of obvi­ous ground rules: No you can­not ‘phone a friend’ and have them bring you stuff. Think of your­self as caught behind enemy lines and no one is com­ing to save you. The only way out is to build this sam­ple roaster and roast your way out! It is a life or death sit­u­a­tion and the only per­son you can trust is you!

No, you can­not have started this con­test wear­ing a 1-kilo sam­ple roaster.

Submitting a Solution
Once you have a con­cept for a great sam­ple roaster, you need to sub­mit the fol­low­ing:
1)    A 250-word descrip­tion of your roaster design phi­los­o­phy and how you ‘built’ it
2)    A schematic of what your roaster looks like when it is func­tion­ing
3)    Create PDF’s or word doc­u­ments and sub­mit to:
4)    Include a short bio includ­ing how long you have been roast­ing, what you use, and a photo of you or logo for your company.

Fabulous Prizes
CoffeeTalk will take the best designs and fea­ture them over the next few months and share your bril­liance with the world. Awards will be given for:

•    Most likely to work
•    Most cre­ative use of mate­ri­als
•    Most likely to be a spec­tac­u­lar mishap involv­ing the fire depart­ment
•    Best over­all plan, phi­los­o­phy, exe­cu­tion of design, and sub­mis­sion story

International Coffee Consulting is proud to spon­sor the prize for “most likely to work!” The prize is five hours of Coffee Tech Support from their new ser­vice to the cof­fee indus­try. Think of it as a help desk at your dis­posal, where all cof­fee ques­tions will get answered (for a fair price). Other spon­sors will most likely come on board as well, but if not, then hey, you can have brag­ging rights as being the first ever to win the category!

Have fun and be creative!

The View

Categories: 2014, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:
With my grandson, Finn,  at Wharaiki Beach, New Zealand July 2014

With my grand­son, Finn,
at Wharaiki Beach, New Zealand July 2014

Balance. With it, you can achieve great­ness. Without it, suc­cess is lim­ited and fail­ure is much more likely. But “bal­ance” is a tricky thing. As a busy busi­nessper­son you are always think­ing of what you can do bet­ter. What did you for­get? You dream of the day when you will be “caught up.” The day when you can finally relax a bit. Be care­ful! Before you know it, your chil­dren are grown, your friends are mostly gone due to your com­plete and utter focus on your busi­ness goals, and you are still fight­ing the bat­tle of to-dos, projects and things! So how do you get off the end­less roller­coaster ride? How do you get “caught up”? How do you succeed?

You STOP. You take a break. You look at the big­ger pic­ture. And you rede­fine “suc­cess.” You accept that you will never be caught up and the list never ends. You make peace with that, and you learn to trust oth­ers. Yes, just maybe you can do X, Y, and Z faster and bet­ter than any­one else can (at least in your own mind), but is that really your best use of time? You learn to let go and do what is really impor­tant. AND, you define “impor­tant.” Is impor­tant mak­ing sales, or the per­fect brochure; or the per­fect word­ing or the per­fect ANYTHING?

You learn that there is no such thing as “per­fect,” But there is suc­cess. And, suc­cess is wak­ing up each morn­ing proud of who you are and what you have achieved. Success is help­ing your employ­ees to grow and become bet­ter at what they do. Success is help­ing your cus­tomers in what­ever it is you do to serve them. Success is real­iz­ing that peo­ple are more impor­tant than goals. Success is spend­ing a good pro­por­tion of each day doing the things that will make you and your fam­ily hap­pier and health­ier. Success is the jour­ney – one day at a time. Success is find­ing that bal­ance between profit and people.

Today I wish for all of the CoffeeTalk read­ers and fam­ily, success.

Juan Valdez: Beyond the Bean

Categories: 2014, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

When you hear the name Juan Valdez, you likely think of the image of the Colombian cof­fee farmer with his mule, Conchita. You might also think of Colombian cof­fee pro­mo­tional cam­paigns that for many Americans were the first glance at where cof­fee orig­i­nated. What you prob­a­bly do not real­ize, how­ever, is the rich­ness and his­tory behind Juan Valdez and the vast impact it has on both Colombia and, fur­ther­more, across the globe. To fully grasp the evo­lu­tion of a char­ac­ter into a brand, it is key to under­stand where it comes from and, more impor­tantly, where it is going.

The Juan Valdez char­ac­ter was cre­ated more than 50 years ago in order to posi­tion Colombian cof­fee inter­na­tion­ally. It was designed to rep­re­sent one of the more than 500,000 Colombian cof­fee grow­ers rep­re­sented by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), which owns the Juan Valdez brand. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation real­ized early in its his­tory that one of the avenues to help these cof­fee grow­ing fam­i­lies was to make sure that con­sumers val­ued the ori­gin of the prod­uct and the qual­ity asso­ci­ated with Colombian beans. This is why, for decades, it has sup­ported 100 per­cent Colombian cof­fee brands in all con­ti­nents. Today, there are nearly 1,000 brands of 100 per­cent Colombian cof­fee around the world car­ry­ing the Colombian cof­fee logo as an ingre­di­ent brand.

In 2002, in response to the “Latte Revolution,” –the estab­lish­ment of spe­cial­ized chains that sold pre­mium cof­fee and changed the cof­fee retail mar­ket in the 1990’s, – Juan Valdez was re-launched as a Juan Valdez sig­na­ture brand with the inau­gu­ra­tion of the Juan Valdez® Cafés. This new con­cept also came about when prices were at their low­est and Colombian cof­fee grow­ers felt that they deserved a higher share of the value asso­ci­ated with spe­cialty coffees.

Thus, the Juan Valdez® Café busi­ness was orig­i­nally designed as an inclu­sive busi­ness. It was meant to show­case the diver­sity of high end Colombian cof­fees and its dif­fer­ent ter­roirs, gen­er­at­ing inter­est among cof­fee indus­try mem­bers about the var­ied pos­si­bil­i­ties that Colombian cof­fee could offer in the high end seg­ment. Ten years later, Colombian spe­cialty and ter­roir cof­fees have become much more preva­lent in the dif­fer­ent offer­ings of inde­pen­dent baris­tas and well-known spe­cialty brands.

Juan Valdez® Café also gen­er­ates value to cof­fee grow­ers in brand roy­al­ties. A por­tion of every sale made under this brand goes back to Colombia´s National Coffee Fund and is invested back into assis­tance pro­grams that focus on sus­tain­able and com­pet­i­tive prac­tices for cof­fee grow­ers.  The brand roy­al­ties gen­er­ated by the busi­ness have now sur­passed 20 mil­lion dol­lars. No other cof­fee brand has a sim­i­lar track record of allo­cat­ing a por­tion of its rev­enues into sim­i­lar pro­grams. In addi­tion, the brand has paid qual­ity pre­mi­ums amount­ing to more than $6 mil­lion to pro­duc­ers for cof­fees that are sold under the brand. Furthermore, 18,000 actual farm­ers are share­hold­ers and see addi­tional prof­its through the indi­vid­ual shares they have purchased.

These fig­ures have come about after over­com­ing a num­ber of chal­lenges asso­ci­ated with the world eco­nomic reces­sion that affected most European and North American mar­kets. During the last 10 plus years, the Juan Valdez® Café brand and retail chain has diver­si­fied its focus in a num­ber of grow­ing mar­kets and is begin­ning to step up its pres­ence in tra­di­tional cof­fee con­sum­ing coun­tries. By the sec­ond semes­ter of 2014, a total of 270 Juan Valdez® Cafés have opened to the pub­lic. While 191 of these cafés are located in Colombia, nearly 80 new out­lets have now opened in Aruba, Chile, South Korea, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Kuwait, Bolivia, and Malaysia.  Several Juan Valdez® Cafés are also about to open their doors in Miami, com­ple­ment­ing its pres­ence in cer­tain United States airports.

From the per­spec­tive of its own­ers, the grow­ers them­selves, the brand is now very suc­cess­ful. The busi­ness is prof­itable, gen­er­at­ing qual­ity pre­mi­ums to grow­ing fam­i­lies and a larger por­tion of brand roy­al­ties for sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives.  The most sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit to cof­fee grow­ers is no doubt the abil­ity to show­case the dif­fer­ences within Colombian cof­fees to con­sumers and clients world­wide. In order to do so, Juan Valdez aims to high­light the ori­gins of its cof­fee so that peo­ple can under­stand the authen­tic­ity and ded­i­ca­tion of Colombian cof­fee grow­ers, as well as the rich and vast geo­graphic and cul­tural diver­sity of Colombia. Specialized buy­ers and baris­tas are now fre­quent vis­i­tors to the country´s dif­fer­ent regions, as they have become dis­cern­ing cof­fee con­nois­seurs who demand the best-quality cof­fee in the world. The Juan Valdez brand is now elic­it­ing not only thoughts of a Colombian cof­fee farmer and his mule, but also notions of the ori­gin, his­tory and rich­ness of a coun­try that boasts the world’s best coffee.

Alejandra Londoño is the International Vice President, Procafecol-Juan Valdez.