by Mike Perry, CEO and Green Coffee Buyer
After the long drive from Amaro to Yirgacheffe we pulled into the Hama Co-op to a large crowd of farmers and families. It was a bit overwhelming how many people came to meet us, watch us cup and hear our feedback. Upon arrival we immediately began to unload and set up in a covered area next to the Co-op office. Fortunately we had cupping tables, large gas propane tanks, stoves, lots of water, scales, grinders and all our cupping supplies. Not only did we have throngs of people crowding to look in, we also had producers (farmers) sitting inside around the cupping tables and for a brief hour I got to experience the life of a rock star.
Once completed we again invited the producers to cup coffees, and then we shared our notes and scores to the masses, followed by a Q and A type of town hall meeting. A common question of the farmers was “how can we get more money for our coffee?” More often than not our reply was “a quality cup, meaning care with processing, and traceability and branding for each Co-op.” While every table had prime examples of great coffee, others showed traces of greatness muddled with processing mistakes we could taste in the cup. While we wanted to highlight and acknowledge what was good, we had to be honest enough to let them know why we could not pay high prices for missteps, and offered suggestions for improvement.
It was already late in the day, we had more farmers to meet and coffee to roast. For this reason, three of us (including myself) broke off from the group and drove down to the ECX (Ethiopian Commodity Exchange) to do the roasting while the rest of the group packed up and headed to another Co-op called Harfusa to meet more farmers and hold another town hall meeting to discuss coffee and the needs of those who produce it.
We drove about 50 minutes to the ECX in Dilla and arrived around 5pm with 20 batches to roast. Since the machine was a 2-barrel Probat Burns and there was three of us, we hoped to complete the task in two to three hours. What we did not expect was no light in the roasting room so we had to do our roasting by flashlight. But led by Dave with some help from Jeff and I, we completed the roasting and drove to Yirgacheffe to meet the rest of the team.
But another great thing happened in Dilla, I had a great conversation with Rahil, a certified Q cupper (a Q cupper is a very special cupper who has passed extensive written and tasting exams) whom I met on my previous visit. She has a great palate as well as an understanding of the different coffee Ethiopia has to offer. We had a great time and it all goes well, Rahil will be joining our Klatch team later this year. She will be a valuable asset to not only our team and quality control, but to our customers as well in helping us connect with more of the best Ethiopian farmers.
All in all it was a long but very rewarding day with more great coffee and better people discovered.
TAGS: CUPPING CARAVAN, ETHIOPIA