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Tag Archive for: United States

Courtesy of COE

Producer Profile

Categories: 2015, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

What is Cup of Excellence®?

Cup of Excellence is a pre­mier cof­fee com­pe­ti­tion and world­wide auc­tion offer­ing the high­est award given to a top scor­ing cof­fee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence cof­fees undergo is unmatched as all of the COE award win­ners are cupped at least five times (the top ten are cupped again) dur­ing the three-week com­pe­ti­tion. Literally hun­dreds of cups are smelled, tasted and scored based on their exem­plary char­ac­ter­is­tics. The prices that these win­ning cof­fees receive at the auc­tion have bro­ken records time and again to prove that there is a huge demand for these rare, farmer iden­ti­fied cof­fees. The farmer receives the major­ity of the auc­tion pro­ceeds based on the price paid at auc­tion, and the farmer can expect to receive more than 80% of the final price. The remain­ing auc­tion pro­ceeds are paid to the in-country orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee to help pay for the program.

Changing Producer Lives

Being selected as one of the win­ners at Cup of Excellence means recog­ni­tion and reward for the grower and has been a spring­board for many grow­ers to secure long-term rela­tion­ships with inter­na­tional buy­ers, which, in turn, allows for fur­ther invest­ment in the farm and brings secu­rity for fam­i­lies and communities.

The expe­ri­ence for the grower is life-changing. He or she is a star and for that one ner­vous, exhil­a­rat­ing moment, applauded. Proudly walk­ing up on the stage and accept­ing the applause, the grower real­izes their hard work, atten­tion to detail, maybe their very liveli­hood, is being rec­og­nized as impor­tant to their entire coun­try. Some are very shy, never hav­ing been in any kind of pub­lic spot­light. Many are hum­ble coun­try folk – and this is evi­dent as they shake hands with an ambas­sador, the vice pres­i­dent or even the pres­i­dent of a coun­try, their expres­sion clearly show­ing the huge ela­tion of win­ning. Cup of Excellence has cre­ated a much more trans­par­ent infra­struc­ture for high qual­ity cof­fee. Roasters can now iden­tify, find and build rela­tion­ships with grow­ers of supe­rior cof­fees. It brings together the high qual­ity roaster and the high qual­ity farmer and helps both under­stand and appre­ci­ate the nuances and fla­vor pro­files of rare exem­plary cof­fees. It has changed the pric­ing struc­ture for farm­ers and has dis­cov­ered many of the incred­i­ble cof­fees that have built con­sumer excite­ment and loy­alty. With that, we are excited to present our new series: Producer Profiles.

Table1Colombia: Buenavista
In the 2015 Colombia Cup of Excellence com­pe­ti­tion, Astrid Medina’s cof­fee won first place with a pres­i­den­tial score of 90.2 points, offer­ing exotic sweet and fruity notes, bright acid­ity and creamy medium body.

The farm, whose crops are almost com­pletely renewed, is a shared legacy and her sis­ter owns a frac­tion. “She [my sis­ter] is also a part of the farm. She is a sin­gle mother, has a boy and they also depend on us,” Astrid explains.

The farm has an area of 15 hectares, of which ten are grown with cof­fee. For five years, they have had the sup­port of a farm man­ager, who is the hus­band of Astrid’s niece. All the man­age­ment remains within the family.

Each stage of pro­duc­tion is very care­fully looked after, and Astrid attrib­utes the qual­ity of her cof­fee to the efforts of many peo­ple. “If one of them was wrong, that would affect us all, but we speak the same lan­guage, we look for and achieve the same objec­tive. It’s under­stand­ing between employ­ees, pick­ers, the farm’s man­ager and own­ers,” she says, with­out dis­re­gard­ing that nature has been very gen­er­ous to her farm.

The cli­mate and soils are very healthy, the region is very new, we never do burns, we let organic mate­r­ial do its work and fer­til­ize the soil when it decom­poses. The water for the post-harvest pro­cess­ing is also very pure,” she explains.

She also attrib­utes the qual­ity of her cof­fee to the par­tic­u­lar blend of beans that the farm allows for in the mid-year har­vest (November, December and part of January, with lim­ited pro­duc­tion). Because of its exten­sion, lands vary between 1800 and almost 2000 meters in alti­tude. “We selected the best lots to make the blend with beans from dif­fer­ent alti­tudes. We think that most of the coffee’s suc­cess is in the blend itself,” she explains. “Cup of Excellence allows us to keep dream­ing and to exper­i­ment, because cof­fee, beyond doing the right thing, is like a mys­tery, since you may like it and oth­ers may not,” she says.

Table2Astrid knows that the qual­ity pre­mium of $14.50 a pound that was paid by roast­ers from Asia, the United States, and Australia 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.

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.”

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2015, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Where Traditional and Functional Collide

Seo Duk-Sik and Rocky Rhodes - paintAfter enough time in the indus­try, one gets fewer and fewer moments of sur­prise. This was one of those moments. What would you say if you were offered the chance to roast on a char­coal fueled roaster? Of course you say “yes.” Then you quickly fol­low that with, “Huh? How does it work? Is it a drum roaster? How old is it?” The oppor­tu­nity to try some­thing new in roast­ing, even if it is some­thing old, is fun, and you should never pass on the opportunity.

If you find your­self trav­el­ling out­side the US on cof­fee busi­ness you are likely to be offered a tour of cof­fee houses in the area. It is your host’s way of say­ing we are proud of what we do and want to share it with you and the United States. It is a great com­fort to know that every­where in the world there is 3rd wave cof­fee being delivered.

In South Korea, Seoul in par­tic­u­lar, great cof­fee is every­where you turn. The study of cof­fee and imple­men­ta­tion of best prac­tices is on every cor­ner. It is such a vibrant cof­fee scene that ‘really good’ is expected and ‘excel­lent’ is easy to find. So good is the cof­fee that dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is harder to achieve. A new phe­nom­e­non in cof­fee is at hand which has been dri­ven pri­mar­ily though the Barista pro­fes­sion. Doing some­thing ‘dif­fer­ent’ to get to that excel­lent cup.

These ‘dif­fer­ent’ things include menu pair­ings, new drip­per sys­tems, 1 kilo roast­ers in the shop, roast­ing one cup’s worth of beans over the stove to order, and other really unique things. Some things, how­ever, reach to the past for that differentiation.

In Japan, dif­fer­ent fuels were used in roast­ing cof­fee. One read­ily avail­able source of fuel was char­coal. Fuji Royal built a roaster to use this fuel in a small batch drum roaster. The fla­vor that came from this charcoal-fueled roaster became uniquely asso­ci­ated with Japan.

A Korean cof­fee enthu­si­ast stud­ied roast­ing in Japan and brought that style to Seoul. Seo Duk-Sik has expanded his tal­ent and cof­fee enter­prise and sells a great deal of his cof­fee back to Japan. He started Kaldi cof­fee in Seoul and moved his roast­ing facil­ity out of the city where there was more room for pro­duc­tion and less restric­tions on emis­sions. The fla­vor holds true to this ‘Japanese Style’ of roasting.

Charcoal roasting - paintAfter a tour of the plant and an oppor­tu­nity to run the machine for a cou­ple of roasts, some inter­est­ing dis­cov­er­ies were made. The most impor­tant of which is that there are dif­fer­ent tastes for dif­fer­ent folks. Who is to say what is right or wrong? With this char­coal roaster, tra­di­tion and brisk sales indi­cate that Kaldi is ‘right’ with this style because sales are increas­ing by hold­ing on to the ‘old ways.’ Remember that cof­fee is hun­dreds of years old and ‘Specialty cof­fee’ is only about three decades into its infancy.

The Fuji Royal char­coal roaster is a pretty unique beast. It oper­ates with two air­flow motors; one for roast­ing and one for cool­ing. The chaff col­lec­tor is unique in that it has a water cur­tain that the smoke must flow through before enter­ing the cyclone cham­ber. This is nec­es­sary for a char­coal roaster because embers fly all over the place and are eas­ily sucked into the exhaust. Embers are extin­guished and then the water leav­ing the cyclone is screened and the wet chaff is col­lected. Smoke that remains exits nor­mally through the exhaust pipe.

Traditional and func­tional aspects of the roast­ing are often at odds with each other on this machine. The fire box is stoked with char­coal, ignited by gas, and then the gas is cut off. There is an art and a dis­ci­pline to plac­ing the pieces of char­coal to pro­duce an even heat directly below the drum. During the roast cer­tain pieces are removed or added to increase or decrease the heat. Different ways of intro­duc­ing oxy­gen to the sys­tem also allows flex­i­bil­ity in tem­per­a­ture control.

Airflow through the drum is very low so as not to suck up too many embers. To increase the amount of air flow­ing through the beans it uses a com­pletely per­fo­rated drum that sits directly above the fuel source and all of the heat is pulled through the cof­fee. This pro­duces a lot of radi­ant heat mixed with some con­vec­tive. This would be the oppo­site of more recent drum roaster designs where higher air­flow pro­duces more con­vec­tive heat and the hot steel of the solid drum pro­duces con­tact heat. If you think the fla­vor pro­file would be dif­fer­ent, you would be right!

The low con­vec­tive heat causes a roast to take 20 min­utes or more. Just before the roast comes out Seo Duk-Sik damp­ens the air­flow allow­ing the char­coal smoke to enter the cham­ber and add what is almost a mesquite fla­vor to the beans. The result is a smoky, heavy-bodied, low-acid cof­fee. And it is this pro­file that is the sig­na­ture taste for this kind of roaster.

While watch­ing this process, it would be easy for ‘spe­cialty roast­ers’ of the West to think of about a dozen ways to ‘improve’ the func­tion­al­ity of the machine. But as a good roaster must always do; fig­ure out the out­come you want and then roast to that out­come. If the machine were changed, this tra­di­tional fla­vor would be lost. In this case the machine is per­fectly func­tional for the out­come. And the result­ing cof­fee res­onates with Kaldi’s customers.

Being tra­di­tional is being unique, and unique has found a mar­ket amongst all of the other cof­fee shops.

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

Coffee Beyond the Beverage

Categories: 2015, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Crédito Cintia Duarte - Vanessa F Vilela -  Kapeh DirectorAre you against cel­lulite, wrin­kles and neg­a­tive effects of UV rays? Have some cof­fee!  A cup of Joe goes way beyond brew­ing sta­tions, restau­rants and mugs ter­ri­tory. In fact, cof­fee invaded your beauty prod­ucts with­out you notic­ing. Green beans, roasted beans and ground beans were taken to lab­o­ra­to­ries to be stud­ied and an entirely new world of ben­e­fits was dis­cov­ered. Coffee is rich in antiox­i­dants, flavonoids and chloro­genic acids which are indi­cated to elim­i­nate free rad­i­cals. Kudos go to Brazil’s cos­metic indus­try for rec­og­niz­ing the pow­er­ful ben­e­fits of cof­fee in beauty prod­ucts. In fact, 2014 sales topped 3.285 bil­lion dol­lars and has enjoyed an 11% growth in spite of polit­i­cal and eco­nomic crises in Brazil.

Sun blocks, sham­poos, cream mois­tur­iz­ers, per­fumes, gels, deodor­ants, soaps, exfo­li­at­ing gels, anti-aging creams with cof­fee as ingre­di­ent are already a real­ity. According to the huge Brazilian cos­metic com­pany NATURA, green cof­fee extract is “a com­po­nent of some prod­ucts in NATURA Chronos edi­tion (anti-aging) and it is also used as an emol­lient in SR N shav­ing cream.” Known as a huge exporter of cos­metic prod­ucts with Brazilian ingre­di­ents, NATURA car­ries sev­eral items with cof­fee in their com­po­si­tion, and has been doing so for years. Curiously, they list the grains just as an ingre­di­ent and not as a big star of their portfolio.

Even with NATURA’s minus­cule dis­clo­sure with cof­fee, the cof­fee mar­ket began an awak­en­ing process and started focus­ing on this busi­ness oppor­tu­nity. The Coöperative Cooxupé, located in the south of Minas Gerais state, devel­oped an oil that serves as the basis for the cos­met­ics indus­try in the region. This mois­tur­izer, emol­lient, antiox­i­dant, anti-inflammatory and regen­er­a­tive oil also pro­tects the skin against UVB rays, pre­vents pho­toag­ing and has heal­ing prop­er­ties and ben­e­fi­cial vit­a­mins. The same oil is sold to Attrato, a local com­pany that car­ries a line of four­teen dif­fer­ent cos­metic products.

Credito Cintia Institucional 01The fact that it can improve the appear­ance of cel­lulite, give shine and soft­ness to hair and help in the treat­ment against hair loss is well known. Its use, how­ever, is lim­ited so far to the green cof­fee oil extract. The Kapeh Company went against the odds and inno­vated the entire cos­metic chain based on cof­fee. Owned by Vanessa Vilela, the enter­prise aims to use every­thing that cof­fee can pro­vide: cof­fee flow­ers to develop per­fumes, cof­fee peel as exfo­liant and caf­feine to com­bat cel­lulite and reduce mea­sure­ment. “Innovation is the suc­cess secret. Kapeh com­bined tech­nol­ogy to dis­cover what cof­fee can offer us, always in a sus­tain­able way. The total use of cof­fee – flower, plant, grains – help us to make more prod­ucts with fewer raw mate­ri­als,” explains Vanessa.

Considering that there was lit­tle research about cof­fee uses in the cos­metic indus­try, the com­pany took three years to pio­neer stud­ies and tests. Allied to the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), located in Minas Gerais state, the first Kapeh prod­ucts were devel­oped seven years ago. In an exclu­sive inter­view for Coffee Talk, the busi­ness­woman with a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal back­ground revealed that the main goal since the begin­ning was total use of cof­fee in her prod­ucts. Thus, all bio­mass from the pro­duc­tion is used.

Vanessa turned two pas­sions – cof­fee and cos­met­ics – into a mil­lion dol­lar busi­ness. The chain grew from just a few prod­ucts to a port­fo­lio of more than 100 items with 200 sales points in 18 Brazilian states, all made with UTZ cer­ti­fied cof­fee pro­duced from her farms. “I was born and I still live in the biggest cof­fee region in the world, in the city of Três Pontas, Minas Gerais. And, I am proud to say that we grew 300% in the last five years and are prepar­ing to con­quer new mar­kets abroad.” Exports to Portugal and Holland have started and Europe and the United States are slated for 2015. Vanessa says that the biggest chal­lenge so far is to show­case her dis­cov­er­ies in a mar­ket that is dom­i­nated by huge com­pa­nies. “After try­ing the prod­uct, the con­sumer falls in love with it. For this rea­son I am look­ing for busi­ness part­ners and dis­trib­u­tors in America and Europe now.”

With that, the biggest cof­fee pro­ducer in the world is ready to export tech­nol­ogy and prod­ucts made by green and roasted grains around the globe. Very soon, the solu­tion to the consumer’s prob­lem for dry skin, dam­aged hair and wrin­kles will be COFFEE. So… if you are feel­ing ugly, why not try some coffee?

by Kellinha Stein

Did you know that…

• Coffee flow­ers are used to develop perfumes.

• The high con­cen­tra­tion of caf­feine (sub­stance that stim­u­lates fat burn) is used to reduce body mea­sures and elim­i­nates cellulite.

• Coffee peels have exfo­li­at­ing effects.

• Coffee extract is used as UV rays pro­tec­tion, and is already in sev­eral sun blocks composition.

Roasters Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is NOT what is hap­pen­ing in Asian countries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Turn on the tele­vi­sion or open a news­pa­per, and you would be hard-pressed not to find infor­ma­tion on ‘liv­ing green.’ The green move­ment has embraced the global cof­fee mar­ket­place and cap­tured the atten­tion of con­sumers like never before. From sus­tain­able cof­fee pro­duc­tion prac­tices to eco-friendly cof­fee prod­ucts and water con­ser­va­tion, ‘going green’ is caus­ing spe­cialty cof­fee busi­nesses to take notice and change the way they’re doing business.

A Growing Trend

Consider this sta­tis­tic: According to the National Coffee Association, nearly eight out of ten Americans drink cof­fee. It’s clear that cof­fee is one of America’s favorite bev­er­ages. And as cof­fee con­tin­ues to heat up sales at cof­fee­houses across the nation, con­sumers are tak­ing notice of organic, cer­ti­fied organic, and sus­tain­able cof­fee programs.

Although there is still the con­sumer that just wants “a cup of joe,” most con­sumers expect more from their cof­fee and are will­ing to pay more for it. Today’s con­sumer knows the dif­fer­ence between “com­mod­ity” cof­fee (i.e., from a can at the gro­cery store) and spe­cialty cof­fee, and vote with their dol­lars for what they drink.

But what exactly do the terms sus­tain­able, organic, cer­ti­fied organic, direct trade, and direct rela­tion­ship, mean to pro­duc­ers, retail­ers, and con­sumers alike? And what effect are these ide­olo­gies hav­ing on the indus­try as a whole?

Reykia Fick, media rela­tions man­ager at Fairtrade International says that any effec­tive approach to sus­tain­abil­ity must start with peo­ple. “For Fairtrade, we start with the posi­tion of the farmer. For farm­ers to con­tinue to feed the world into the future, they need to earn enough to have a decent liveli­hood and rein­vest into their farms,” Fick says. “They need to farm in a way that respects their local ecol­ogy so their fields will stay fer­tile. They need to build strong busi­nesses and rein­vest in their com­mu­ni­ties to strengthen their posi­tion and attract the next gen­er­a­tion to farming.”

So how do organic and Fairtrade labels coin­cide within the cof­fee indus­try? “Organic” and “Fairtrade” are two dif­fer­ent but com­pli­men­tary cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that can be run par­al­lel or sep­a­rately. As Fick explains, organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion means that agri­cul­tural meth­ods to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment have been under­taken in the farm­ing of a crop. While Fairtrade  International has require­ments for sus­tain­able farm­ing tech­niques, empow­er­ment and improv­ing the liveli­hoods of farm­ers and work­ers is the core aim of Fairtrade.

For pro­duc­ers who lack resources, improv­ing their eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion through Fairtrade International can be a pre­req­ui­site for gain­ing organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. “Fairtrade deliv­ers ben­e­fits to small-scale farm­ers such as sta­ble prices and funds for devel­op­ment,” Fick says. “This brings the sta­bil­ity and invest­ment thou­sands of pro­duc­ers have needed to con­vert to organic. Once organic cer­ti­fied, Fairtrade farm­ers and work­ers ben­e­fit from higher prices for many products.”

According to Bill Fishbein, founder and pres­i­dent of The Coffee Trust, the var­i­ous com­mer­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and non-commercial efforts are all part of the effort toward sus­tain­abil­ity. “That said, com­mer­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are lim­ited, as con­di­tions of the trade are steeply tilted in favor of mer­chants over pro­duc­ers and com­mer­cial inter­ests are not nec­es­sar­ily always con­sis­tent with com­mu­nity inter­ests. Commercial inter­ests are always look­ing to ensure a fluid line of sup­ply. This is not a bad thing, and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions help to estab­lish a price that war­rants a con­sis­tent sup­ply chain. However, hav­ing a fluid line of sup­ply as a pri­or­ity for com­merce is not nec­es­sar­ily con­sis­tent with a community’s pri­or­ity for its own development.”

Direct Ties

Marilyn Dryke with the Café Femenino Foundation, says that direct trade was a mar­ket­ing term that was cre­ated to help roast­ers sell cof­fee. “Though a few roast­ers may have the knowl­edge or abil­ity to buy and import their own con­tain­ers of cof­fee, most roast­ing com­pa­nies rely on importers and exporters to get their cof­fee here and to hold the cof­fee until they are ready to buy it and roast it,” Dryke says. “With the term ‘direct trade’ peo­ple may be lead to believe that the seller is buy­ing and import­ing the cof­fee directly from a cof­fee farmer or a coöper­a­tive.  So from our per­spec­tive it is a con­fus­ing term that is loosely used.  There is no ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for this concept.”

George Kim, cof­fee qual­ity man­ager at Caffebene defines direct trade as the process where the buyer and the farmer agree upon cer­tain stan­dards and processes—from pro­duc­tion to cul­ti­vat­ing, har­vest­ing, dry­ing, and such. The buyer is directly involved in the process.

The trend is shift­ing away from buy­ing cof­fee beans in bulk through dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­nies. Rather, roast­ers are going directly to the farm­ers after sur­vey­ing the soil and the envi­ron­ment of the farm,” Kim says. “People believe this truly insures the qual­ity of the beans. Also, roast­ers use this unique story as a way of mar­ket­ing, inform­ing the con­sumers how and under what con­di­tions the beans that they are drink­ing were harvested.”

In Korea, Caffebene has a direct rela­tion­ship with the Ipanema farm. All cof­fee beans pro­duced from this farm are only exported into Caffebene in Korea. “The rea­son for doing this is to have a story with a spe­cific farm that pro­duces the cof­fee just the way we want,” Kim says. “There are no third par­ties involved. We cer­tify the qual­ity our­selves. As it is only imported to Caffebene Korea, we can guar­an­tee the quality.”

So how is the term “direct rela­tion­ships” dif­fer­ent from “direct trade”?

Dryke says that “direct rela­tion­ships” also is a mar­ket­ing term that was devel­oped to help move cof­fee. “Roasters can work with their importers to actu­ally go and meet the farm­ers they work with, and a few have the abil­ity to actu­ally buy a full con­tain in order to import them­selves,” Dryke says. “Some importers may also mar­ket their cof­fees as direct rela­tion­ship, and prob­a­bly many of them actu­ally do have direct rela­tion­ships, but there is no spe­cific cri­te­ria attached to this term, so it is a loosely used term with some com­pa­nies or indi­vid­u­als using it as they wish.”

While indus­try experts may have dif­fer­ing opin­ions about the ter­mi­nol­ogy sur­round­ing sus­tain­able prac­tices within the cof­fee indus­try, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are key tokens that ensure stan­dards and cri­te­ria are annu­ally sub­stan­ti­ated so that con­sumers know the claims that are being made are true and verified.

With these cer­ti­fi­ca­tions the expec­ta­tion is that the cof­fee or other prod­ucts will actu­ally gen­er­ate higher incomes for the pro­duc­ers who are hav­ing their cof­fees cer­ti­fied,” Dryke says. There are loans and funds avail­able for farm­ers who which to go through a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process, or the coöper­a­tive or export com­pa­nies can also help the farm­ers with the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process.”

Most cer­ti­fi­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tions are also will­ing to assist in this process even though they may not be pro­vid­ing fund­ing.  Consumers have a choice whether to buy a cer­ti­fied prod­uct, which are gen­er­ally more expen­sive because of the cost of the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and even the pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing can be more expen­sive.  “Today we see more organ­ics on main­stream store shelves, which would indi­cate that con­sumers are grow­ing more and more will­ing to pay the extra cost to assure that they are get­ting a prod­uct with the ver­i­fi­ca­tion that assures them the prod­uct is organic or fair trade or what­ever the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is for,” Dryke says.

Economic & Social Impact of Sustainability

Brent Toevs, CEO of Marley Coffee says that sus­tain­abil­ity in the cof­fee mar­ket encap­su­lates a com­bi­na­tion of eco­nomic and social impact. According to Toevs, eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity involves the use of var­i­ous strate­gies for employ­ing exist­ing resources opti­mally so that a respon­si­ble and ben­e­fi­cial bal­ance can be achieved over the longer term. Environmental sus­tain­abil­ity involves the main­te­nance of the fac­tors and prac­tices that con­tribute to the qual­ity of envi­ron­ment on a long-term basis. And social sus­tain­abil­ity involves the abil­ity of a com­mu­nity to develop processes and struc­tures that not only meet the needs of its cur­rent mem­bers but also sup­port the abil­ity of future gen­er­a­tions to main­tain a healthy community.

And it’s the role of many non­prof­its within the indus­try to over­see the sus­tain­abil­ity of the cof­fee indus­try, its prac­tices, and its pro­duc­ers. Experts agree that non-profits within the cof­fee indus­try have a vital role to play in build­ing a more sus­tain­able cof­fee sec­tor, while tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the eco­nomic and social impact that sus­tain­abil­ity has on the peo­ple and their prod­ucts. “We can act as a plat­form for farm­ers to tell indus­try what they need to have sus­tain­able liveli­hoods and deliver the sup­ply busi­nesses need,” Fick says.

Nonprofits also have an invalu­able role to play in sup­port­ing com­pa­nies to do busi­ness in a bet­ter way. For exam­ple at Fairtrade International, they have built an alter­na­tive way to do busi­ness, based on prin­ci­ples of fair­ness in trade. “We have devel­oped this over the years with the input of count­less part­ners, from farm­ers and work­ers on down the line to importers, brands, retail­ers and con­sumers,” Fick says. “By work­ing with Fairtrade, busi­nesses can live their val­ues, invest in the peo­ple and the sus­tain­abil­ity of their sup­ply chain, and be rec­og­nized for their good work via the Fairtrade mark, the world’s most rec­og­nized and highly trusted eth­i­cal label.”

Fishbein stresses that respon­si­ble non-profits are not lim­ited to com­mer­cial inter­ests. “They focus on com­mu­nity pri­or­i­ties, such as but not lim­ited to, edu­ca­tion, health care, food pro­grams, alter­na­tive incomes and help­ing local com­mu­ni­ties take con­trol over their own future. However, while non­prof­its may be able to help a com­mu­nity chart its own course, which may include strength­en­ing its capac­ity for com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion, non-profits are out­side of the com­mer­cial process and should steer clear of inter­fer­ing in estab­lished com­mer­cial rela­tion­ships,” Fishbein says. “While both have essen­tial roles to play in the effort toward sus­tain­abil­ity at ori­gin, nei­ther by itself is any­where close to achiev­ing sus­tain­abil­ity. That can only be achieved over the long run—and it will be a very long run—as long as each respects the value of the other and nei­ther think they have dis­cov­ered all of the answers.”

Brent Toevs, CEO of Marley Coffee, says that there are many non­profit NGOs con­tribut­ing to sus­tain­abil­ity mea­sures in cof­fee grow­ing regions through­out the world. For exam­ple, the WaterWise Coffee Initiative backed by the NGO TechnoServe cre­ates a low-cost, sus­tain­able solu­tion for treat­ing waste­water pro­duced as a result of wet milling cof­fee in the Sidama region of Ethiopia. “By installing nat­ural grass­lands near the site of cof­fee mills, WaterWise is able to pro­tect the water qual­ity of the Kolla River for both the pro­duc­ers and the nearby res­i­dents,” Toevs says.

Also, the non­profit Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), a con­sor­tium of global orga­ni­za­tions led by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is devel­op­ing and apply­ing sci­en­tific met­rics to under­stand sus­tain­abil­ity impacts at the field level. COSA’s stated pur­pose is to mea­sure sus­tain­abil­ity and its man­date is to achieve “a cred­i­ble set of com­mon global mea­sures for agri­cul­tural sus­tain­abil­ity along the three bal­anced prin­ci­ples (envi­ron­men­tal, social, and eco­nomic).” The unan­i­mous International Coffee Organization endorse­ment of the COSA pro­gram notes that COSA builds man­age­ment capac­ity with local part­ner­ships in pro­duc­ing coun­tries to facil­i­tate an under­stand­ing of the effects (costs and ben­e­fits) of the many sus­tain­abil­ity initiatives.

Other key non­prof­its and industry-specific orga­ni­za­tions that play a key role in the sus­tain­abil­ity efforts fac­ing the indus­try includ­ing Grounds for Health, Café Femenino, Coffee Kids, Sustainable Harvest, Coffee Cares, Food for Farmers, Puebla a Puebla, and the Coffee Trust, to name a few.

In the case of the Café Femenino Foundation, they are focused on help­ing women to achieve human rights through grant pro­grams that focus on health, edu­ca­tion and income diversification.

It is up to the pro­duc­ers to tell us what they need in order to improve their lives and their family’s lives for the future,” says Gay Smith, founder of Café Femenino Foundation. “Ensuring that there is food to eat after the har­vest to pre­vent mal­nu­tri­tion in the chil­dren, or clean water to drink. Educating the chil­dren through new schools, libraries or books. All are part of a sys­tem that will sus­tain the cof­fee farmer into the future.”

Without this type of sup­port, chil­dren will leave the cof­fee farm to look for other type of work because they see how dif­fi­cult life is on a cof­fee farm. Additionally, the abuse and aban­don­ment of chil­dren and women will con­tinue with­out some type of inter­ven­tion, as will the poverty cycle. Seventy-five per­cent of the world’s cof­fee is pro­duced by small cof­fee farm­ers work­ing on ½ acre to five-acre farms.

The work of the foun­da­tion is cru­cial to the sus­tain­abil­ity of the small cof­fee pro­duc­ers, and more and more com­pa­nies are start­ing to see the impor­tance of this work or work like the foun­da­tions’,” Smith says. “Our indus­try needs to look at ways that we can all con­tribute to a more equi­table cof­fee value chain.”

Definitions & Certifications

Certified Organic: In order for cof­fee to be cer­ti­fied and sold as organic in the United States, it must be pro­duced in accor­dance with U.S. stan­dards for organic pro­duc­tion and cer­ti­fied by an agency accred­ited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. require­ments for organic cof­fee pro­duc­tion include farm­ing with­out syn­thetic pes­ti­cides or other pro­hib­ited sub­stances for three years and a sus­tain­able crop rota­tion plan to pre­vent ero­sion, the deple­tion of soil nutri­ents, and con­trol for pests. Source: Organic Trade Association (

Organic: Organic cof­fee is grown using meth­ods and mate­ri­als that have a low impact on the envi­ron­ment. Organic pro­duc­tion sys­tems replen­ish and main­tain soil fer­til­ity, reduce the use of toxic and per­sis­tent pes­ti­cides and fer­til­iz­ers, and build bio­log­i­cally diverse agri­cul­ture. Third-party cer­ti­fi­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tions ver­ify that organic farm­ers abide by the law. Source: Organic Trade Association (

Sustainable: Sustainable farm­ing within the cof­fee indus­try imple­ments prac­tices to min­i­mize water con­sump­tion and to clean the water used. Water from the fer­men­ta­tion tanks should never be returned to rivers or lakes, but rather fil­tered nat­u­rally through the earth and then used for cof­fee irri­ga­tion. A sus­tain­able farm gives back as much to the land and peo­ple as it receives.  It seeks inde­pen­dence from non-renewable resources, using renew­able resources when pos­si­ble. Sustainable farm­ing also min­i­mizes pol­lu­tion, takes steps to care for the envi­ron­ment, and cares for its employ­ees. Source:

Fair Trade: Fair Trade cer­ti­fi­ca­tion focuses on labor and trade stan­dards to pro­vide small-farmer co-operatives a guar­an­teed price above the con­ven­tional mar­ket. Not all Fair Trade CertifiedTM cof­fee is nec­es­sar­ily organic. However, Fair Trade CertifiedTM does require strict envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship such as pro­hibit­ing the use of genet­i­cally mod­i­fied organ­isms (GMOs) and the most haz­ardous pes­ti­cides. Fifty nine per­cent of all Fair Trade CertifiedTM cof­fee imported into the United States in 2008 was cer­ti­fied organic. In the United States, trans­ac­tions must be audited by TransFair USA to use a Fair Trade CertifiedTM label. Certified organic pro­duc­ers of Fair Trade cof­fee receive at least $1.55/lb.Source: Organic Trade Association (

Direct Trade: Direct trade is a term used by cof­fee roast­ers who buy straight from the grow­ers, cut­ting out both the tra­di­tional mid­dle­man buy­ers and sell­ers and also the orga­ni­za­tions that con­trol cer­ti­fi­ca­tions such as Fair Trade and Bird Friendly. Direct trade pro­po­nents say their model is the best because they build mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial and respect­ful rela­tion­ships with indi­vid­ual pro­duc­ers or coop­er­a­tives in the coffee-producing coun­tries. Source:

Direct Relationship: Relationship cof­fees rep­re­sent a unique, grass­roots oppor­tu­nity for cof­fee drinkers to con­tribute toward the suc­cess and devel­op­ment of coffee-producing com­mu­ni­ties in third-world coun­tries. For exam­ple, the Coffee Roasters’ Alliance sup­ports and “adopts” spe­cific farms and coop­er­a­tives through Relationship Coffee pro­grams. These pro­grams uniquely develop a “close-touch” plat­form designed to estab­lish a direct rela­tion­ship between cof­fee drinkers and the com­mu­ni­ties that grow their cof­fee. Relationship Coffees offer the poten­tial for gen­er­a­tional pros­per­ity within coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties. Source:

Rainforest Alliance: The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is an inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized sym­bol of envi­ron­men­tal, social and eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity that helps both busi­nesses and con­sumers do their part to ensure a brighter future for us all. In order for a farm or forestry enter­prise to achieve Rainforest Alliance cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, or for a tourism busi­ness to be ver­i­fied, it must meet rig­or­ous stan­dards designed to pro­tect ecosys­tems, safe­guard the well-being of local com­mu­ni­ties, and improve pro­duc­tiv­ity. The Rainforest Alliance then links these farm­ers, foresters and tourism busi­nesses to the grow­ing global com­mu­nity of con­sci­en­tious con­sumers through the green frog seal. Source:

UTZ: UTZ Certified stands for sus­tain­able farm­ing and bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties for farm­ers, their fam­i­lies and our planet. The UTZ pro­gram enables farm­ers to learn bet­ter farm­ing meth­ods, improve work­ing con­di­tions and take bet­ter care of their chil­dren and the envi­ron­ment. Source:

4C: The mem­bers of the 4C Association have devel­oped the 4C Code of Conduct, which sets social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic prin­ci­ples for the sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing and trad­ing of green cof­fee. The 4C Code has a mod­er­ate entry level, includ­ing the exclu­sion of ten Unacceptable Practices, and com­mits par­tic­i­pants to con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. Source:

Equal Exchange: Equal Exchange’s mis­sion is to build long-term trade part­ner­ships that are eco­nom­i­cally just and envi­ron­men­tally sound, to fos­ter mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial rela­tion­ships between farm­ers and con­sumers and to demon­strate, through our suc­cess, the con­tri­bu­tion of worker coop­er­a­tives and Fair Trade to a more equi­table, demo­c­ra­tic and sus­tain­able world. Source:

Cup of Excellence: Cup of Excellence is the most pres­ti­gious award given to a fine qual­ity cof­fee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence cof­fees undergo is unmatched any­where in the cof­fee indus­try. All of the Cup of Excellence award win­ners are cupped at least 5 times (the ‘Top 10′ are cupped again) dur­ing the 3-week com­pe­ti­tion. During this selec­tion process, thou­sands of cups are eval­u­ated, tasted and scored based on their exem­plary char­ac­ter­is­tics. The prices that these win­ning cof­fees receive at auc­tion have bro­ken records and proven that there is a huge demand for these rare farmer iden­ti­fied cof­fees. Source:

On the Shoulders of Giants

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

For Susie Spindler, cof­fee is more than a drink. As founder of the Cup of Excellence pro­gram, the most pres­ti­gious award given to a fine qual­ity cof­fee, and cre­ator of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence—the non­profit orga­ni­za­tion that owns and man­ages the Cup of Excellence—Spindler believes that cof­fee brings the world closer together.

Growing up just north Salt Lake City, Utah, Spindler went to school in Utah fol­lowed by grad­u­ate school in Arizona. Spindler’s first job out of grad­u­ate school was in mar­ket­ing research, but her first job in the cof­fee indus­try was work­ing for the International Coffee Organization (ICO) help­ing to increase cof­fee con­sump­tion in the United States.

I was for­tu­nate to receive great train­ing in my first posi­tion with the ICO,” Spindler says. “I worked with high-level cof­fee peo­ple who were will­ing to share their valu­able cof­fee and life exper­tise and I was able to cre­ate and man­age very unique projects that helped upgrade the image and qual­ity of cof­fee to younger people.”

After hav­ing been away from the cof­fee indus­try for a few years, the ICO posi­tion helped Spindler tran­si­tion back into the project that even­tu­ally became Cup of Excellence.

Having the cre­ative free­dom with the ICO, learn­ing so much about cof­fee, and build­ing long-lasting rela­tion­ships in the indus­try allowed me the space to feel com­fort­able work­ing on a pro­gram that had never been tried before,” Spindler says.

Founding and man­ag­ing Cup of Excellence is by far the most grat­i­fy­ing job Spindler has had within the indus­try as it has allowed her to wit­ness first­hand the joy of farm­ers who have won the competition.

I have watched as their lives have com­pletely changed for the bet­ter. I have also had the plea­sure of expe­ri­enc­ing cof­fees that no one knew existed and shared the excite­ment of cup­pers also find­ing these gems for the first time,” Spindler says. “By meet­ing so many cup­pers and spend­ing time with them at the com­pe­ti­tions, I have also made price­less friend­ships across the globe and watched as small qual­ity cof­fee com­pa­nies have grown into suc­cess­ful businesses.”

As part of her role with the Cup of Excellence, Spindler trav­els exten­sively around the world, offer­ing eye-opening expe­ri­ences through­out her adven­tures. “The poverty is always very sad, espe­cially when one con­sid­ers that such great wealth exists among the few. But the beauty of the land, the wildlife, and often the irre­sistible and huge smiles of the chil­dren are unforgettable.”

As the Executive Director of The Alliance for Coffee Excellence, Spindler also man­ages the Cup of Excellence program.

Through her many years of expe­ri­ence, Spindler says the biggest chal­lenges she faces are often an entrenched infra­struc­ture that does not empower indi­vid­ual farmers.

The bar­ri­ers can be NGO, gov­ern­men­tal, social, or eco­nomic,” Spindler says. “Cup of Excellence is a good exam­ple of trickle up economics—rewarding the indi­vid­ual farmer is paramount.”

As Spindler explains, his­tor­i­cally so much inter­na­tional devel­op­ment fund­ing went to large NGOs, to gov­ern­ment or large com­pa­nies that lit­tle of it reached or empow­ered the farmer to build a bet­ter life for themselves.

The his­tor­i­cal infra­struc­ture in pro­duc­ing cof­fee coun­tries has not been one that would empower a farmer to fully under­stand the value of the prod­uct he/she was sell­ing,” Spindler says. “Even today, much of the devel­op­ment fund­ing part­ners with cor­po­ra­tions.  So essen­tially, too much devel­op­ment money is ben­e­fit­ing the multi-national cor­po­ra­tions that do not need it.”

Spindler also points out that the cof­fee indus­try has been his­tor­i­cally male dom­i­nated. Too often if a woman won a Cup of Excellence it was her father or hus­band that would pick up the award and, even now there are still very few female cuppers.

This is finally begin­ning to change, albeit very slowly,” Spindler says. Women farm­ers are so very proud to win and they are begin­ning to feel com­fort­able build­ing long-term rela­tion­ships, but there is still much to be done.”

susie copyAnother chal­lenge that Spindler sees fac­ing the indus­try sur­rounds the effort of get­ting con­sumers to rec­og­nize and pay for high-quality cof­fees so that roast­ers can pay more to farmers.

Consumers tend to buy the cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and often these cof­fees are not the high­est qual­ity nor do the farm­ers get rewarded, Spindler says. “ Setting pre­mium prices based on absolute qual­ity and not on the nuances of an ever-changing futures mar­ket has been a chal­lenge as well as has been the eco­nomic bust and boom of the marketplaces.”

Throughout her long-term career in the cof­fee indus­try, Spindler has learned an impor­tant thing: As indi­vid­u­als, most of us are very sim­i­lar, no mat­ter where we live.

We all want to do what is best for our fam­i­lies and to con­tribute some­thing pos­i­tive,” Spindler says. “We all have global friends regard­less of our pol­i­tics, a sense of humor about the plea­sures and pains of life, and most of us are dis­ap­pointed in our gov­ern­ments.  We all want to leave a bet­ter world even though we do not always know how to do this.  Coffee is the most global prod­uct there is. We either drink it or we grow it and some do both. It could be such a cat­a­lyst for bridg­ing the gap between coun­tries, peo­ples and politics.”

The Voice

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

Thank you Kerri for the invi­ta­tion to dream about our indus­try and hope­fully pro­vide some food for thought for other CoffeeTalk readers.

I have elected to focus on my vision on increas­ing the appre­ci­a­tion and con­sump­tion of cof­fee in North America.  For the 25 plus years that I have been in the indus­try, the topic of the con­sumer man­ages to find its way to the table on a reg­u­lar basis.

Who would ben­e­fit from such an ini­tia­tive?  The answer is very sim­ple, all of the stake­hold­ers in the cof­fee chain, from pro­duc­ers to retail­ers. You may ask your­self, if a consumer-focused pro­gram would ben­e­fit the entire cof­fee chain, why isn’t there such a program?

Some of the bar­ri­ers to a consumer-focused pro­gram are: pro­gram own­er­ship, man­age­ment, scope, fear that one com­pany would ben­e­fit more than another, cost, and how to pay for the program.

In order to cre­ate a North American consumer-focused cof­fee mar­ket­ing pro­gram, it is help­ful to eval­u­ate other suc­cess­ful indus­try mar­ket­ing programs.

One of the most inter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful mod­els of a con­sumer mar­ket­ing comes from within our indus­try. The Colombian Coffee Federation’s Juan Valdez pro­gram was able to impact the cof­fee buy­ing habit of mil­lions, if not bil­lions, of con­sumers.  This was a focused ini­tia­tive to cre­ate recog­ni­tion of the entire country’s cof­fee pro­duc­tion. The impact of their adver­tis­ing has lived long after they dis­con­tin­ued the tele­vi­sion and sports venue advertising.

The California wine indus­try has faced com­pli­ca­tions with wine buy­ers who thought that good qual­ity wine came only from France.  The California Wine Association was formed, and they addressed the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing aware­ness of the fine qual­ity wines pro­duced in the state of California.  The suc­cess of their pro­gram can be seen on menus through­out the United States and around the world.

The suc­cess of Fair Trade/Trans Fair and its grass roots ini­ta­tive to get the con­sumer to pur­chase cof­fees far above mar­ket price is amaz­ing.  Unlike the pre­vi­ous two exam­ples, Fair Trade’s pri­mary goal was to increase the money being returned to the cof­fee pro­ducer dur­ing an extremely low mar­ket.  An unex­pected ben­e­fit was the increased aware­ness of cof­fee pro­duc­tion and poten­tially increased con­sump­tion.  The con­sumer demanded Fair Trade cof­fee after the pro­gram was launched.

These exam­ples of con­sumer mar­ket­ing by indus­try groups are a few of the many mod­els we have to help guide this impor­tant effort.  I would be remiss if two other con­sumer mar­ket­ing mod­els were not men­tioned.  The efforts of The Roaster Association in Norway and ABIC of Sao Paulo, Brazil, both indus­try groups, devel­oped focused pro­grams to increase con­sump­tion in their coun­tries. The results were amaz­ing.  You can read more about both on the Internet.

A com­mon thread of suc­cess­ful indus­try con­sumer mar­ket­ing is that the cam­paigns have a sin­gle focused mes­sage about a prod­uct or ser­vice.  They are clear and uncom­pli­cated, and all of the stake­hold­ers ben­e­fit from the mar­ket­ing.  The pro­gram makes for more poten­tial buy­ers.  Individual com­pa­nies are still respon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing their com­pany, prod­ucts, and services.

My vision is to form a work­ing group of lead­ers ded­i­cated to devel­op­ing a plan for a con­sumer mar­ket­ing pro­gram for North America.  Every cof­fee asso­ci­a­tion in North America should be invited to the table.  An increased aware­ness and con­sump­tion of cof­fee will ben­e­fit the largest and the small­est of our importers/brokers, roast­ers, and retail­ers.  The pro­ducer will have more oppor­tu­nity for sales at all lev­els of quality.

I believe a sim­ple cam­paign, such as Got Milk, could be exe­cuted using the Internet and print media.   My vision is to cre­ate a pro­gram that would add a total of no more than $0.015 per pound of cof­fee imported to North America.

I believe cre­at­ing an I Love Coffee, Drink Coffee, Got Coffee cam­paign is long over­due and doable!

Linda Smithers has been in the cof­fee indus­try for 25 years.  She began her cof­fee career as a roaster retailer in Akron, Ohio.  She has served on the Board of Directors for SCAA, chaired sev­eral com­mit­tees, and was the Association President in 1997–98, IWCA, Ground for Health.  Linda has pre­sented at more than 90 indus­try meet­ings and con­ven­tions about the world, works with Rainforest Alliance’s Cupping for Quality, and is an avid and skilled cup­per. Currently, Linda is work­ing Daterra Coffee, BR and respon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing in North America.

NAMA Emerging Leaders">NAMA Emerging Leaders

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

There is a cer­tain pos­i­tive spark that can be gen­er­ated when you bring new tech­nol­ogy and old wis­dom together in the same place at the same time. A spark that can rev­o­lu­tion­ize some­thing that is already good and makes it bril­liant. A spark that can take some­thing that may be so small but flour­ishes it into some­thing worth brag­ging about.

It is a pow­er­ful con­nec­tion that needs to be made across the board in all pro­fes­sions and in all indus­tries. However, The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) has already taken that first step into the right direc­tion toward cre­at­ing this spark.

CoffeeTalk is intro­duc­ing a new series of arti­cles for the 2014 year! They will fea­ture the NAMA Emerging Leaders Network  (ELN) that was launched in July of 2013. This group of indi­vid­u­als in the vend­ing and refresh­ment ser­vices indus­try is a great exam­ple of the spark of change that needs to be instilled. They have the tools nec­es­sary to allow the vend­ing and refresh­ment ser­vices indus­try to con­tinue to grow for many years to come.

Bridge the Generation Gap
NAMA rec­og­nized that there is a gen­er­a­tion gap in their indus­try. It is inevitable that when indus­try vet­er­ans retire, in any indus­try, that some­one else is going to have to step up and take over. However, how will this be pos­si­ble for the con­tin­u­ing suc­cess of that indus­try if the emerg­ing indus­try lead­ers are not edu­cated on the same level as the ones who are retir­ing or mov­ing on?

Education is key for this solu­tion. A group, like the NAMA ELN, allows for a col­lab­o­ra­tion that is essen­tial for the suc­cess­ful oper­a­tions of the indus­try. New ideas from the next gen­er­a­tion of indus­try lead­ers allows for a spark of trans­for­ma­tion to be instilled to the ever chang­ing econ­omy and con­stant flow of dif­fer­ent and inno­v­a­tive trends that are evolv­ing every day. How can one progress and move for­ward when they are stuck in old rou­tines and not simul­ta­ne­ously mov­ing for­ward with the econ­omy and world around it?

It’s a Give and Take Relationship
The emerg­ing lead­ers and the indus­try vet­er­ans each have some­thing that the other wants. The emerg­ing lead­ers grew up in a time period jam-packed with var­i­ous kinds of tech­nolo­gies every­where they turn. Technologies today that are becom­ing more and more preva­lent in sales and mar­ket­ing, like social media for exam­ple. The indus­try vet­er­ans have the many years of expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge needed to fur­ther the life of an industry.

You see, while the two gen­er­a­tions stand­ing alone may oper­ate suit­ably for now, when you put them together and allow them to work together, it bet­ters not only both of the gen­er­a­tions, but the indus­try as a whole as well. An indus­try can­not thrive on one of these areas alone. Technology and indus­try tra­di­tions must be pieced together to advance. The tools that these two groups pos­sess will gen­er­ate greater prof­its when used together, than when used separately.

About the Emerging Leaders Network
The ELN holds meet­ings at the var­i­ous indus­try con­fer­ences around the United States. They are able to col­lab­o­rate together at these meet­ings even though they may live many states apart. They uti­lize their LinkedIn page that gives updates about the group in a mat­ter of min­utes. LinkedIn is used to fun­nel issues and keep up with changes and con­cerns that come up on a daily basis. The more you get involved the more valu­able you become to the group.

Membership in NAMA’s Emerging Leaders Network pro­vides younger vend­ing and refresh­ment ser­vices exec­u­tives an oppor­tu­nity to net­work with other NAMA mem­bers and influ­en­tial indus­try lead­ers,” said Paul Tullio of Gourmet Coffee Service in Anaheim, CA, and chair of the group. “It gives the next gen­er­a­tion of indus­try lead­ers a plat­form to express their ideas and vision for the future of the industry.”

There are cur­rently about 100 active mem­bers, and the num­bers are grow­ing. To be a mem­ber, you must be an already-existing mem­ber of NAMA and of the age of 40 or younger. These mem­ber­ships are avail­able at no cost. You can con­tact Roni Moore at NAMA or Paul Tullio for more infor­ma­tion on how to become a member.

Be the Spark in your Industry
We under­stand that many of our read­ers are in the cof­fee and tea indus­try; how­ever, it is impor­tant to high­light this NAMA ELN group and learn from them. Roasters, retail­ers, grow­ers, and even ser­vice providers can learn from the ELN. If an indus­try wants to con­tinue on, it must take the nec­es­sary steps to build up and bet­ter itself. Now, I’m not say­ing that it is going to be easy, and if I did, I would be lying; how­ever, doesn’t the say­ing go: “noth­ing worth hav­ing in life comes easy”?

The Emerging Leaders Network has started the spark to change their indus­try, but what about you? How are you going to bridge the gap in your indus­try? Have you thought about who is going to take over after you retire? Did you con­sider what pieces of knowl­edge that you want to pass down? Be inspired, be proac­tive, and be that spark to change your industry.

Stay tuned for future arti­cles about the NAMA ELN. Learn from them how to be a part of the change that you want to see in your pas­sion and profession.

The Last Mile

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

As cliché as it may sound, cof­fee is in my blood.   Some of my ear­li­est and warmest mem­o­ries are of my grandmother’s kitchen, a well-worn moka pot gen­tly bub­bling (which I would later dis­cover isn’t a good thing!) on the stove, fill­ing the room with rich and famil­iar aro­mas.  My mother Silva worked her entire career in qual­ity con­trol at illy Caffé’s head­quar­ters in Trieste, the Adriatic port city in north­east­ern Italy where cof­fee first entered Europe in the 16th cen­tury.  Coffee was all around me, and I loved it.  Therefore, becom­ing a barista was the nat­ural thing to do, and a deci­sion that pays rewards every sin­gle day; with every stu­dent who learns to cre­ate that per­fect espresso, rich crema beau­ti­fully intact, and every smile on the faces of cof­fee lovers, their tongues painted with a lit­tle some­thing that brings pure pleasure.

I was hon­ored when the owner of CoffeeTalk invited me to con­tribute a recur­ring col­umn that gives the barista’s point of view on our indus­try.   This kind of reg­u­lar voice is vital in America; where baris­tas don’t enjoy the pro­fes­sional stand­ing that baristi do in my home coun­try, even though they have become a part of every­day life, every­where, from cut­ting edge down­towns to sub­ur­ban malls.

I’ve spent almost four years as illy’s Master Barista for North America. The expe­ri­ence has been ener­giz­ing.  For one, I’ve gained immense appre­ci­a­tion and respect for the pas­sion­ate com­mu­nity of baris­tas, café own­ers, hos­pi­tal­ity exec­u­tives, and oth­ers who make up the cof­fee pro­fes­sion in this coun­try.  There is an incred­i­ble desire to learn, inno­vate, delight, and take the craft of cof­fee to a higher place.  It is a spirit that is last felt in my coun­try in the 1930s and 1940s, when Italian-engineered refine­ments to espresso mak­ing (some pio­neered by my company’s founder, Francesco Illy) gave rise to an era of rapid inno­va­tion and growth.  You can find excel­lent cof­fee through­out much of Italy, a kind of birthright, like great burg­ers here in the United States, but you don’t find the energy that comes with, what might be called, the “young adult­hood” phase that cof­fee in the U.S. is in today.

Illy brought me to the U.S. for rea­sons that explain this column’s title: mak­ing sure that our coffee’s very last, most crit­i­cal, trans­for­ma­tional steps are han­dled prop­erly.   My com­pany is mani­a­cal (in the best of ways) about opti­miz­ing qual­ity at every link along the cof­fee chain.  We pur­chase beans directly from farm­ers on four con­ti­nents who meet our high stan­dards for qual­ity, many of whom we edu­cate on sus­tain­able agro­nom­i­cal and busi­ness prac­tices; teach and finan­cially sup­port ecologically-responsible pro­cess­ing, like the semi-washed method that we helped revive; roast and per­form more than 100 qual­ity checks at our one plant in Trieste; and pack­age our cof­fee with inert gas to pro­long its freshness.

But none of it is any good if prepa­ra­tion is sub­par, if that last mile isn’t walked in the right shoes.  My main mis­sion is to spread barista best prac­tices, if you will, to make sure that every whole bean ground, every shot pulled, every Chemex poured, and every cof­fee drink cre­ated does jus­tice to every step that came before and cre­ates plea­sure in the cup.  I spend about half of my days on the road, vis­it­ing illy accounts of all vari­eties, from major resorts to cor­ner cafes, diag­nos­ing equip­ment, gaug­ing knowl­edge, con­duct­ing on-site train­ing, and teach­ing cof­fee bev­er­age cre­ation that con­nects the dots from what hap­pens at the farm to the cup right in front of us.  The idea is to pro­vide a big­ger pic­ture of the under­stand­ing of cof­fee that puts into con­text every detail and action behind the bar, and indeed help baris­tas, man­agers, and own­ers see why no detail is too small.

My goal is to bring that phi­los­o­phy to life in ways that mat­ter for loyal read­ers of CoffeeTalk.  Whether you are a roaster, an equip­ment man­u­fac­turer, logis­ti­cian, dis­trib­u­tor, or café owner, I hope that see­ing the world through a barista’s eye can help inform deci­sion mak­ing, inspire inno­va­tion, or sim­ply pro­vide an occa­sional thought worth clip­ping and keeping.

Topics will be as wide-ranging as cof­fee itself.   One issue may bring prac­ti­cal advice on prin­ci­ples of bev­er­age cre­ation; the next, could be a bigger-picture take on the indus­try itself.   I’ll write about dynamic baris­tas and other pro­fes­sion­als that I meet on the road and at home in New York, with inspir­ing sto­ries to share.  And I won’t shy away from tak­ing a stand.  (Sneak pre­view: play­ing around with the clas­sic for­mula for espresso prepa­ra­tion: not always a good idea!)

I look for­ward to your com­ments and opin­ions, and I invite you to fol­low me on Twitter (@Giorgio_Milos) and at

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 Profile

Categories: 2013, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hola folks! This is some­thing that may have never been thought about before – roast­ing cof­fee with wood! However, there are a hand­ful of roast­ers in the United States who do just that with incred­i­ble results. One of them is Tim Curry, the owner of Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Company. We have talked to him to find out what is up with all that wood in his back yard:

V. Hi Tim! How did you get into the cof­fee indus­try?
C. Well, twelve years ago, I found myself under­em­ployed. I was a man­ager in a restau­rant and one day I was cut back. So I started think­ing about what the future held, and I began research­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing an espresso bar. In that research, I had to learn about what hap­pened to the cof­fee prior to it arriv­ing in the shop. I started read­ing about roast­ing, and found myself intrigued with it. When I finally was able to start my busi­ness, due to lim­ited fund­ing I had to choose only one direc­tion – espresso bar or roast­ing. I opted to go with roast­ing. That is pretty much how it all got started.

V. Now I guess the most impor­tant ques­tion of all: Why wood?
C. I wanted to roast with wood just because it is so uncom­mon in the United States. I also thought it was a very good match for the com­mu­nity where I live in. Even though it is a larger met­ro­pol­i­tan area now, Reno is a very tra­di­tional com­mu­nity with a Western atmos­phere. So I had this vision that a wood roasted cof­fee would be a great match for this envi­ron­ment. After I decided that roast­ing was the way to go for me, I started shop­ping for a com­mer­cial roaster that would roast with wood. Believe me, that is hard work. It took me almost a year and a half to find the proper roaster. In the begin­ning I was roast­ing with a two-pound char­coal roaster. Doing that, I started to get some peo­ple more inter­ested in my cof­fee, got some small restau­rant accounts, and got my prod­uct out there in the mar­ket. Then I finally located my cur­rent roaster – a 15 kilo, Italian made roaster designed to roast with wood or nat­ural gas. I had that roaster installed and have been oper­at­ing it in this loca­tion for the past eleven years.

V.  How dif­fer­ent is roast­ing with wood com­pared to tra­di­tional fuel sources?
C. Roasting with wood is a trick­ier way to roast. The heat source is incon­sis­tent, so I have to be more in touch with what is going on with the roast­ing process at every step and mak­ing sure it is prop­erly fueled. As far as pro­file dif­fer­ences that I am able to see, the acid­ity tends to be a lit­tle bit more muted in the wood roasted cof­fee, so you get all the char­ac­ter pro­files for each region it comes from with a bit of a rounder, mouth­ful, bolder cup of coffee.

V. Do you require a large amount of wood for your pro­duc­tion and what is your roaster’s make?
C. Actually, my roaster is very effi­cient. For exam­ple, last year I roasted about 20,000 pounds of cof­fee, and I used only about 2 cords of wood. As far as the com­pany that made my roaster, I don’t think they are in busi­ness any­more, but it is called Ealestra and it was man­u­fac­tured in Italy. It is a stan­dard drum 15 kilo roaster. I have had almost no prob­lems with it in the last 11 years and it is a great look­ing machine.

V. Does your unique oper­a­tion cause any gov­ern­ment super­vi­sion?
C. I am con­stantly mon­i­tored by our local air qual­ity man­age­ment divi­sion of the Health Department. They do their annual inspec­tions, so I have to mon­i­tor the air qual­ity on the reg­u­lar basis. If you would like to roast with wood, my rec­om­men­da­tion is to make sure that your roaster is in a very low-density pop­u­la­tion area, and that is what I have. I have an air­port on one side of me and a farm on the other, so it works out.

V. Is there some­thing you would like to address to our busi­ness own­ers and the pub­lic in gen­eral?
C. Absolutely. Know your mar­ket, know what peo­ple want in advance and be ready to adjust and accom­mo­date. I have started out with five cof­fees of ori­gin and about four dif­fer­ent blends and over the years I have had requests to do other things, and I’ve worked many of these requests as best as I could. In a short time, I have risen to 16 dif­fer­ent cof­fees of ori­gins, dozens of blends, and 30 dif­fer­ent cof­fee pro­files with cof­fees from all over the world.
Also, what I have expe­ri­enced recently is that there are an awful lot of cof­fee drink­ing peo­ple out there who go out to restau­rants and cof­fee­houses who are so trained to drink poorly roasted, poorly stored, and poorly brewed cof­fee that they don’t even com­ment any­more that the qual­ity isn’t to their sat­is­fac­tion. They just expect to have a bad cup of cof­fee, as opposed to telling a man­age­ment, “Hey your cof­fee is really lousy, you could use some help with it”. If peo­ple that are serv­ing bad cof­fee aren’t get­ting that mes­sage, this is some­thing that slows the progress of our industry.

Wood-Fire Roasted Coffee Company

30 Ohm Place #2
Reno NV 89502
(775) 856‑2033
Tim Curry

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