El Salvador micro lot samples have arrived! Thanks @49th @mieh1
140 beans are used to make you a double shot of espresso. Enjoy.
this will get you searched at airport security. coffee independence is worth the minor inconvenience while traveling. Nils is heading to El Salvador with @mieh1 / @49thgreen to visit some coffee farms and cup some coffees (read: get a sunburn) (at Winnipeg International Airport (YWG))
Let me begin by saying we are lucky. We don’t live in a part of the world where our career choices are extremely limited. We grew up in places where we had basic civil rights, and amazingly, we still live in a world where some of us don’t have them. But all that aside, we still trade with people in coffee from all parts of the world. And through that trade, by giving some people the opportunity to do real business, and to participate in it as real partners with real influence, we unleash a potential power to innovate.
I am going to be honest. I shrug when I read about “processing experiments”. I love the idea of farmers finding a new market through innovation, but more often than not, it is presented as something the roasters or buyers themselves came up with. This also goes for picking ripe! We need to find the right leaders in our industry, also among producers, and reward them: the risk Specialty Coffee producers are facing is high - but the beauty of it is that the reward can justify the risk. It is hard to not be blasé about it. When the commodity market for coffee contracts changes with close to 100% one year to the next, the expectation of smallholder farmers to bare this volatility is mind boggling, and has huge implications. The farmer’s willingness to invest in new technology, inputs, and labor into husbandry practices is challenged, and thus, so is quality. It is easy to forget that the small-scale farmers meet the market blindfolded: trusting they are going to find demand for their product, most often completely at the hand of the washing station, coop, union or exporter.
I shake my head when I read blogposts about how much someone paid farmers for coffee, listing how much everyone in the value chain got, including milling and export. The middle men. We trade in narrow circles of people we know and trust, and because of that, as coffee changes hands - usually three to five times from farmer to consumer (somewhere in Philadelphia Todd Carmichael now shrugs) - there’s a piece of the cake that disappears. In Specialty Coffee, since we are all friends and like each other, it seems like it doesn’t really matter where we put our money. But obviously, handling costs have very high implications for the success of all of our businesses.
In University, I wrote my Msc thesis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) research published in academic journals. One of the major finds was that there is a plethora of approaches and terms used to describe the phenomenon of Social Responsibility, and that there is a huge “Atlantic gap” between European and American Social Responsibility approaches - the US focusing more on philanthropic efforts than their European counterparts. In Specialty Coffee, however, the commercial idea of CSR seems passé, and we are approaching a time where shared value is the right way to think about value chains. If you are looking to increase the competitiveness of an industry, through quality improvements, and along with that its volume and market outreach, you have to look for ways to create shared value: win-win solutions or incentives for each actor in the value chain, whether it be from input provider to farmer, from farmer to mill, or from exporter to retailer. I unfortunately think we are too focused on our own reputation, building our own market strength, chasing our own opportunities, and not focusing on allocating funds the right way in the value chain, that we forget to trust producers to bring out the best in themselves.
Because really, there is no currency like trust. There is nothing worse for building relationships than handouts, on one hand, or preaching, on the other. And I am speaking from experience: it is ridiculously easy to preach our own opinions and ideas. Volatility in coffee trading has in recent years been very high, with the smallholder farmers bearing the risk of this - and we expect them to. What I have learned is that people will tell you the truth if you listen hard enough. If you don’t, they will tell you what they think you want to hear. If we allow for participation of producers as real partners with real influence, we unleash the potential for truly great coffees to reach us, and all of the consumers. Undoubtedly, some of the best coffees are yet to be tasted.
Timor is one of the true mysteries of nature
Nicholas Wintgens, November 2012
I had the chance to ask how it could be that nature created a reproductive hybrid from 22 and 44 chromosome parent types.
49th Parallel’s Ethiopia Jimma Tencho & Welinso at Cafe Myriade. Ethiopian coffee roasted in Vancouver and enjoyed in Montreal.
slept in a tent in the rain at tencho last night, after spending the afternoon with the welinso cooperative. perfect timing for this post :)