Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Economic Sustainability Panel Offered at SCA Expo Boston

April 17, 2019
A few days ago a panel, organized by Artisan Coffee Imports, took place at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Expo in Boston titled, "East Africa Quality Innovation."
Panelists were (LtoR):

·       Sara Yirga, moderator and founder of YA Coffee Roasters in Ethiopia
·       Rachel Samuel-Overton, Co-founder Gesha Village, Ethiopia (private estate)
·       Lauren Rosenberg, Managing Director, Long Miles Coffee, Burundi (private)
·       Ruth Ann Church, President of Artisan Coffee Imports, representing Kopakama coop, Rwanda

The combined insights from these speakers offered the audience an opportunity to hear how three East African organizations from three different countries -- Ethiopia, Burundi and Rwanda -- are tackling the complex contexts in which they work. They shared their stories of how they offer brilliant tasting, fruity East African coffee, with narratives that are genuine.

The panelists focused primarily on marketing, and how marketing green coffee as a producing organization requires also attention to price paid to suppliers (either farmers, workers or both) and quality control mechanisms, to control the quality of incoming coffee.

Gesha Village, the relatively new estate established in 2011 in Bench Maji zone, Ethiopia, shared an inspiring video that advertises their annual auction. The estate earns 15% of revenue from sales of the 6% of coffee sold during the auction. Prices can go as high as $100/lb green.

Long Miles Coffee, founded in 2013, offered the perspective of a private organization, working in a complicated and ever-changing regulatory context. Their mission is to uplift farmers and to do this, they find they must continuously find ways to work closer with the farmers, 12 months per year. Ms. Rosenberg also highlighted the visibility they give the story of the farmers through their Instagram posts and other media easily accessible to roaster- customers.

Kopakama, a cooperative started in 1998, represented the oldest organization and farmer-owned-and-controlled business model. Kopakama holds a triple certification (Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic) and most notably pursues "Lean at Origin" processes. This management philosophy is well-known in other industries, but is new to coffee. With it, Kopakama is moving towards more efficiency, in order to allow its employees to focus on growth, not every-day fire-fighting.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Cupping Great Coffee at IWCA-SCA Cupping

April 14, 2019
Surprise! There really are enough fanatic roasters and cuppers at an SCA Expo to fill a large cupping room, even at 8:00am on a Sunday morning! At least 46 guests flocked to taste the over 70 samples from 10 countries, representing all three coffee-growing continents (Africa, Asia and Latin America) and 47 different female producers - all members of International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA) chapter members. Click here to see the list of all the coffees.

The IWCA hosts this annual cupping event with generous support from the Specialty Coffee Association (which donates the space), and Firedancers Consultants (which collects, carefully sample roasts all samples, and leads the cupping). This year the event boasted additional sponsors -- Joe Coffee Company of New York City and City Girl/Alakef Roasters in Duluth, MN sponsored the new cupping aprons with the IWCA logo. Thanks to all these sponsors for supporting women in coffee around the globe!