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A few things I learned writing the atlas
Monday, September 15, 2014 - 02:06 PM - 3 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
A few things I learned writing the atlas
The experience of writing the book was an interesting one, and not always pleasant. The process involved finding as much information as I could, trying to pare it down to what I considered important and then doing my best to fact-check what I found. There were moments when there would be little epiphanies, though these weren’t always good feeling ones. I came into coffee at a time when speciality was on the rise. I came to know coffee through stories of direct trade, relationships with producers, trying to pay premiums and to push quality forward. What didn’t make sense to me were certifications like Fair Trade. I was dismissive of them because I couldn’t see how they fit into my world of speciality. They didn’t focus on quality at all! How ridiculous! What was worse, so many of my favourite coffees came from single estates – and when I learned that a single estate couldn’t ever be Fair Trade certified it seemed even more laughable to me. (Ah, the arrogance of youth…) Writing the history of each coffee producing country brought my foolishness and shortsightedness into sharp focus. What I wanted to do was look at the history of each country to understand how it had ended up with the level of traceability it had: why was coffee in Central America so much more traceable than coffee in Papua New Guinea or Ethiopia? The Europeans Each and every chapter could likely have contained a sub heading of “That time the Europeans were complete b*stards” because, invariably in every country there was such a time. The English, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Belgians (especially the Belgians – who were often utterly evil and no one seems to take them to task about this any more) did atrocious, unspeakable things – from a place of greed, ignorance and a callous belief in their superiority. It got to the point during the research that I was just waiting, as I worked chronologically through the local coffee production timeline, for the bad things to happen – I was never disappointed… The locals That doesn’t mean that all the terrible things were done by colonists. The painful past and guilt of land ownership, of theft and displacement, of abuse and slavery, belongs to a great many people in each and every country. This doesn’t mean everyone who owns a coffee farm is a terrible person, or that every person who owns a coffee farm has some historical skeleton in the closet – it just means it’s all complicated. Certainly more complicated than I can deal with in this post, or within the book. Fair Trade When you look at the past the actions of those who set up schemes like Fair Trade make more sense – and the idea that it was designed to support cooperatives, rather than those whose families had acquired land at some stage, makes a great deal of sense. This side of coffee’s history is rarely on display, and while the price crashes of the past are well known I don’t think many people in my coffee generation are particularly aware of this stuff. I’m sure it isn’t just me Like I said – the history of coffee and land ownership raise incredibly big, difficult issues, and I didn’t really look to tackle them in the book. I hope people who read through the chapters are inspired to read a little more on the subject. For a quick overview, and a starting place on the subject, have a look at the Wikipedia article on land reform by country. Why I won’t buy anything from Chiquita Banana Writing about Guatemala was one of the most depressing chapters for me. You can read plenty about it online, but the summary would be that 10 years of progressive land reform between 1944 and 1954 didn’t sit well with US owned United Fruit Company. Their big, very profitable business, owned 42 percent of arable land in Guatemala (how they got it is another story) and it was threatened by this reform. In short, they convinced the USA government to have the CIA stage a coup d’etat, which spiralled into a civil war – the longest and bloodiest in Central American history. 100,000 Guatemalans would be “disappeared” during this war. United Fruit Company is now known as Chiquita Banana. This is the same company that had apparently urged the Colombian military to fire on its striking banana workers in 1928 – estimates of the casualties at the time range from 47 up to 2,000. (In case you were wondering where the term “Banana Republic ” came from…) Bananas or coffee? On one level this has nothing to do with coffee. However, in so many ways it has everything to do with coffee – with our relationship with those who produce the crops we import, with the attitude we’ve inherited towards trade with developing countries, and how our history has shaped our present. As a species we like to demonstrate a complete failure to learn the lessons of our history. I confess that I had been in coffee a surprisingly long time before I really dug into its history. It was revelatory, saddening and also inspiring. I’d like to do better, for us all to do better – and I am more driven to that end than I have ever been. World Atlas of Coffee 1 - Amazon UK – Amazon USA I hope to have a website up showing all resellers as soon as possible, if you’d like to shop with independents ↩︎ I hope to have a website up showing all resellers as soon as possible, if you’d like to shop with independents

Villa Sarchi
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 - 08:11 PM - 3 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Varietal: Villa Sarchi Related to: Bourbon, Typica, Pacas Origin: Costa Rica Botany: Mutation Grows best at: 500 metres or above Prevalent in: Costa Rica Predominant Colour: Red Fruit size: Normal rounded Plant Size: Dwarf (short) Leaf Characteristics: Bronze colored leaves scattered throughout the green leaves Plants per hector: 3,585 Recommended Spacing:1.67m x 1.67m Common Tasting Notes:Fruit… Continue Reading

Pay More for Nice Things
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 - 05:54 PM - 3 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Specialty coffee is too cheap, we should pay more for nice things.

3FE / Has Bean Collaboration coffee
Sunday, August 31, 2014 - 12:04 PM - 3 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
For a long time we have wanted to do something special with another coffee roaster. I think there is lots to learn from working together, rather than apart. Theres a few special roasters we have approached and never been able to agree how it would work or how we can make sure we all get… Continue Reading

Friday, August 29, 2014 - 09:28 AM - 3 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Its ages since I did a new varietal post, but with this weeks in my mug being a catimor I thought it was about time I did. Catimors one of the unloved bad guys of coffee, but I’ve found a couple of examples of it being quite the oposite. I guess this comes back ot… Continue Reading

Burundi Cup of Excellence 2014
Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 10:06 AM - 4 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Burundi Cup of Excellence 2014
I’ve just returned from Bujumbura where I’ve again had the pleasure of serving on the International jury for their COE. This was my second time on the Burundi jury, I was also at their first competition in 2012 and I was excited to go back and see how the coffees have evolved. Susie and Sherri The Burundian coffee industry as a whole is going through a lot of changes. All washing stations in the country used to be government owned, but more and more private companies have moved into the market, buying old factories and building new ones. In the past, Burundi has had a lot of machinery and equipment for processing at their disposal, but have lacked the training and infrastructure to fully take advantage of it. The potato defect that has plagued the coffees has been an obstacle for buyers in the specialty market, and at the risk of a high frequency of defect cups it has been a challenge for the Burundian farmers to get better prices for their top quality selections. When I cupped the COE lots in 2012, every table of 10 coffees would have 3-5 of them disqualified for potato, a devastating situation. Last year, some 60% of the coffees were lost, a catastrophic result. But somehow, this year we’d cup table after table without any potato. In fact, of the 60 coffees that were passed through to the international jury by the national jury, only 5 were cut for potato, an incredible reduction and a great springboard to identify the root of the problem and how to eradicate it even further. Near unlimited drying space at the Mumwira washing station Little boy big bucket Using pulp to fertilse the pineapples Growing beans in raised compost beds It’s still unclear as to what has caused the great reduction in potato this year, but interestingly Rwanda has seem a similar decrease, and between the two countries researchers will have far more useful data to analyze. One theory is that the farmers have been spraying more and in different patterns, synchronizing their efforts to collectively combat the antestia bug. When hundreds or even thousands of farmers deliver to the same washing station, it doesn’t help if just some of them spray, they all have to pull together to create a consistently high scoring, defect free cup. Full focus in discussions Jeremie ran a tight ship in the cupping room Jurors from the US, Japan, Norway, the UK, Czech Rep, Burundi, Thailand, Italy, Kenya, Australia and Belgium Another is that the drought they had this year has led to a drier, less bacteria and fungus friendly environment. It’s not uncommon to smell the potato in the air as you walk around the countryside, especially after a rainfall. The rise in numbers of washing stations might also have helped, spreading the harvest across more facilities have given the producers more time to focus on sorting and grading. The producers themselves report that in on-cycle years (high crop) there is less potato, while in the off-cycle year (low crop) there is more potato. They suspect that after a high yielding year the trees are fatigued and less able to resist the causes of the potato, and that perhaps a bi-cyclical strategy in fertilizing could help balance out the nutrients and make the trees healthier and stronger in consecutive years. The ACE are actively engaged in funding research for combating potato and other issues in coffee, through initiatives like their Potato Taste Challenge Prize . Kettles everywhere Chartree and Anette Jury selfie after 40 coffees in a morning Matt and Oli, dirtiest aprons of the week Aurelie and Anette After a week of cupping the award ceremony was held at the Arfic warehouse in Bujumbura. we got a change to meet many of the companies involved in the Burundian coffee industry, chat to farmers, millers and exporters, drink coffee and enjoy the drummers and dancers. Congratulation to all the winners, good luck in the auction, and thanks for a great week! Discussing coffee, potato and prices with the farmers Hostesses Sam from Buf in Rwanda and Anette Drummers and dancers Dancers Mpanga washing station. Winners!

Day eight of my travel diary, the end
Sunday, August 17, 2014 - 02:29 PM - 4 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
So we get to the end of my diary. You set out worth the best of intentions on the 1st of January to keep a diary, but it normally fails by day 3. well I got all the way to the end, so permission to feel smug. The last day is a day of great… Continue Reading

Day seven of my travel diary, Caranarvi
Saturday, August 16, 2014 - 05:24 PM - 4 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Today I take a trip to visit David Vilca and Tedacio Mamani and get thinking more about the future of Bolivian coffee. This trip has caused much thinking, and heres my monologue

Day Six of my coffee Trip Caranavi
Friday, August 15, 2014 - 12:13 PM - 4 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
So today I’m in the same place for 24 hours. No cars, no planes, no mountain bikes sitting in a lovely lab cupping lovely coffees. But still time to think and still time to worry about the star of Bolivian coffee. and worry I do, we could be witnessing the permanent decline of Bolivian coffee.… Continue Reading

Day Five my coffee trip in La Paz
Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 10:07 PM - 4 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
A little later than I might of hoped, but the one thing about Bolivia is the internet sucks. I’m living my life through a gprs signal, and downloading an email takes 5 mins, let alone uploading g some audio. but we are here, it has nothing to do with coffee, but a little to do… Continue Reading

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