Namoura Arabika Sidikalang Bubuk

September 20, 2020 Leave a comment

Mengenal beragam jenis kopi yang sudah mendapat predikat sebagai kopi terbaik tentu tak lepas dari jenis kopi satu ini, kopi Sidikalang. Jenis kopi satu ini ternyata tidak kalah populer dengan jenis kopi yang lain seperti kopi Luwak. Sama sama berasal dari Indonesia, kopi Sidikalang ternyata juga mendapat pengakuan dari banyak pencinta kopi tidak hanya di Indonesia tapi  juga di negara negara lain seperti negara Amerika Serikat. Pertanyaannya, lalu apa yang menjadikan kopi Sidikalang ini begitu spesial?

Kopi Sidikalang ini juga sangat terkenal akan cita rasanya yang unik dan lezat. Kopi Sidikalang berasal dari Sumatera, tepatnya di sebuah ibukota kabupaten Dairi, Sumatera Utara.

Selain mendapat pengakuan dari para penikmat kopi di negeri sendiri, negeri Indonesia, kopi Sidikalang ternyata mampu bersaing dengan jenis kopi lain termasuk kopi Brazil. Hal ini tentunya bukan sesuatu yang mengejutkan karena kopi Sidikalang memiliki cita rasa khas yang tidak dimiliki oleh jenis kopi lain. Di tempat asalnya sendiri, pulau Sumatera, boleh dibilang kopi Sidikalang adalah rajanya kopi.

Namoura Coffee dengan bangga menghadirkan ikon kopi sumatera ini untuk kalian para penikmat kopi berkualitas, Arabika Sidikalang Bubuk yang memiliki kadar kafein lebih tinggi dibanding jenis kopi lain pada umumnya, aroma khasnya adalah manis karamel yang berpadu dengan sedikit rasa rempah. Kemudian, after taste khasnya adalah perpaduan antara citrus, dark chocolate dan fruity yang cukup segar. Ikon kopi Sumatera ini kami hadirkan dalam bentuk tiga kemasan, yakni: 250 gram, 500 gram, dan 1 Kg.

Namoura Gayo Arabics

December 5, 2019 Leave a comment

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Coffee from Takengon, Center of Aceh or commonly called Aceh Gayo coffee is already famous in the world. As the name implies, this coffee is managed by the Gayo people who are original Aceh residents. This type of coffee is one of the most widely consumed coffees as well as exported abroad. Premium product quality, with professional quality control, Quality control by machine and manual sorting process (Double Picked).

Specifications:

  • Single Origin Aceh Gayo Arabica Coffee with Grade 1 quality
  • Processing Method: Semi-washed
  • Altitude: +/- 1,400m
  • 11-13% Moisture; Defect 0-3%
  • Quality guaranteed
  • Suitable for roasters and also coffee connoisseurs who like to roast by themselves

Come join us here with our Namoura Gayo Arabics.

How Is Green Coffee Bought & Sold?

February 6, 2021 Leave a comment

Behind every delicious cup of specialty coffee is a lot of business. Before beans even reach the roaster, days of negotiation, financial management, and relationship building take place.

But how does selling green coffee work? By better understanding how it is bought and sold, you can make more informed choices, whether you’re a producer, roaster, or a consumer.

Finca El Injerto, Guatemala. Credit: Finca El Injerto

The Importer/Exporter Model

Exporters can be an individual producer, a cooperative of farmers, or a third-party exporter. They trade with importers or directly with roasters. But importers have the contacts and financial capital necessary to buy large amounts of beans. This means that roasters often rely on importers to secure quality coffee from all over the world.

Importers buy large amounts of beans and store them while making sales to roasters. When green coffee is bought through an importer/exporter transaction, the importer holds an extensive inventory containing information about each producer they are in business with.

This can include the harvest season, varieties of coffee grown, and how many containers of beans the producer has available. If this information is accurate, it provides traceability and confidence in the quality of the product.

Green coffee beans ready to be roasted. Credit: Neil Soque

While direct trade is a popular option for those wanting more transparency and strong roaster-producer relationships, importers can also be beneficial to producers.

As dedicated, large-scale businesses, they have the resources to handle bulk logistics, international duties, and similar bureaucratic processes that can be off-putting to roasters considering direct trade.

Importers also represent a longer supply chain with profits divided among more players. More people isn’t necessarily a bad thing – a direct relationship between a single producer and roaster may appear ideal, but having several parties involved can make the logistics run more smoothly if there are obstacles.

Some importers also work hard to ensure transparency, and may even introduce roasters to the producers whose coffee they buy.

Coffee cherries at a farm in Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

Direct Trade

Direct trade is when producers sell their green beans directly to the roaster, either as individuals or through a coffee cooperative. Taking out the intermediaries and importer means that there is theoretically increased transparency and traceability. The buyer can visit the source, evaluate the product, and establish a relationship with the farmer.

Arturo Sáenz tells me that direct trade “should result in a better price, more transparency, and, if everything works well, it can build a very long relationship.”

But we should remember that direct trade also involves risk. Without agencies regulating the process, the success of the transaction is more dependent on trust among the participants and there is more potential for deals to fall through. Roasters and producers also need to educate themselves on business procedures, international importing procedures, and logistics.

Ena Galletti tells me that “the producer has to be certain that [the buyer] is committed to quality and appreciates loyalty. Sometimes taking the risk of making an advance payment is the only way to generate a long-lasting link with a coffee producing community.”

Members of the Los Maronchos cooperative in the field in Las Vegas, Santa Bárbara, Honduras. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Direct trade has also been criticized as a marketing term. There are examples of “direct trade” importers and exporters that take the negotiation out of the hands of the producers but still using the term in their sales materials.

Use of the label is unregulated, so it’s not always clear what “direct trade” really means or how much better off the producers are with this model. Removing intermediaries, in theory, should mean more of the profit goes to the producer. However, because the price of direct trade coffee is negotiable and unregulated, it may not be as high as consumers expect. This type of trading can also be more time-consuming and riskier for producers, especially when roasters want to buy small amounts.

This doesn’t mean that direct trade is a bad thing; many producers advocate for its benefits. However, we should remember that it can have its cons as well as its pros.

Marta says, “Direct trade means different things to different people. I think we should think about creating mutually beneficial relationships.

It begins with giving everyone, especially the producer, an equally weighted seat in the market.”

Green coffee spills from a sack. Credit: David Joyce via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Understanding Spot Buying & Forward Contracts

Whether by direct trade or in an importer/exporter model, there are two main ways that roasters buy green beans: spot buying and forward contracts.

Spot buying is when roasters buy coffee from the importer without any previous commitment. That is, “on the spot.” The beans are usually already in storage in a warehouse and ready to ship immediately.

This can be an expensive way to buy coffee because the importer has taken on the financial risk by buying and storing the beans and will include the cost of this in their sale price. The price may also change because it is likely to be tied to the C-price.

Coffee drying at a farm in Colombia. Credit: Paula Molina Ospina

With forward contracts, roasters plan to buy coffee from a particular producer in advance. Importers may be involved, or the roaster may work directly with the producer. With this method, there is better traceability and roasters can be confident that the beans are fresh. It also provides more security for farmers.

Marta Dalton is the founder and CEO of Coffee Bird, in Guatemala. She tells me that forward contracts are beneficial for farmers because “they ease their minds [and avoid] worrying who is going to buy their coffee.”

Producers can plan ahead and may have better access to credit with a secure forward contract. This means they may be able to invest in infrastructure and equipment that could raise the long-term quality of their coffee.

A view of plantations at Finca El Injerto, Guatemala. Credit: Finca El Injerto

Arturo Aguirre Sáenz is a producer at Finca El Injerto in Guatemala. He tells me that forward buying “works perfectly both ways, because the producer knows how much income they’re expecting and the consumer knows the exact amount of money to spend, and has guaranteed coffee for the next years.”

Regardless of the model, communication is crucial. “In order to empower the producers in this business, it’s important that they have full understanding of the rules and a sense of what a sustainable industry is all about,” says Ena Galletti, a coffee exporter at Galletti, in Ecuador.

Bags of coffee at a warehouse in Guatemala. Credit: Devon Barker

In-Country Buyers

You may know in-country buyers as middlemenbrokers, or coyote. These are the people who act as a liaison between producer and buyer. Coffee sold to middlemen is normally of low quality and is sold at very low prices.

In-country buyers have a reputation as profit-seekers, since they essentially take a cut of the payment to producers. But coffee farmers rely on them to have access to roasters. When producers don’t have the necessary connections, logistical knowledge, and legal know-how, the middlemen are vital to selling coffee.

They are also likely to be from the same community as the producers they work with. This can be an important factor in an industry based on trust and repeat trade.

Sacks of coffee at a coffee exchange in Brazil. Credit: Fernando Mafra via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Speculation on The Futures Market

Green coffee buying and selling may seem straightforward so far. But traders can influence the coffee price without ever interacting with the beans.

Coffee is traded as a commodity, meaning that it is bought and sold on regulated markets. The trading price of Arabica is known as the C-Price, and it is this figure that affects the buying price of coffee. All coffee is treated as one raw material, regardless of origin or other factors. Even specialty coffee prices are usually linked to the C-Price, plus a premium.

Speculators buy and sell prices based on a product – in this case coffee. The price that they negotiate is the amount traders expect to pay for the product in the future. The coffee may never even leave the original warehouse and speculators have no intention of possessing the physical beans. Instead, it acts as a trading tool that is used to create profit.

The actions of speculators affects market patterns, and this is one of the reasons that the price of coffee is so volatile.

Green coffee at Jubilee Coffee in Colorado, USA. Credit: Devon Barker

Auctions

Public sales of green coffee are another method of selling green beans and they attract buyers from around the world. Auctions provides an opportunity for producers to promote their product and build relationships through the supply chain. This helps strengthen the industry and provides traceability.

In Latin American producing countries, auctions are where you will typically find the highest-quality beans. Here, the auction system is an efficient way to analyze the market. It provides an opportunity to see how much roasters are paying for their coffee and what kind of beans they’re looking for. But it’s important to keep in mind that the high quality of these beans means you’ll also find higher than average prices.

A sample room at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange, Kenya. Credit: MTC Group via Flickr / CC BY 2.0

In many African producing countries, auctions are often the standard way of buying and selling beans. Producers in these countries typically do not have direct contact with international importers and roasters. So, auctions are often the only opportunity to sell their beans.

For example, most Kenyan coffee is purchased via a central auction. But in these auctions, only licensed coffee dealers only are allowed to bid. Smallholder producers don’t meet buyers and are unable to advocate for their coffee.

Bags of green coffee. Credit: Neil Soque

What’s The Best Method To Buy & Sell Green Coffee?

There’s no perfect method of buying and selling coffee. Each model involves learning about the pros and cons, and the possible risks. Marta says that “The best way to buy coffee is to choose the way in which you are most comfortable with the risks.” So take a look at your own situation and consider your budget and resources. Identify which model fits with your level of knowledge and comfort in negotiating. Focus on your objectives, develop your relationships, and do some business.

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What Are The Main Challenges Faced by Coffee Producers?

February 5, 2021 Leave a comment

Being a coffee producer means living a life of uncertainty. While measures can be taken to improve quality and therefore prices, the truth is that market trends and harvest yield/quality are unpredictable. Nothing is certain until the coffee is bagged and cupped, and the price has been paid.

And coffee producers are notoriously poorly paid in a relatively rich industry.

Part of this is due to the structure of the supply chain. Another part of it is due to the risks inherent in coffee farming, from unpredictable weather to pests and labour shortages.

We couldn’t hope to comprehensively cover all of these issues in just one article, but here are some of the biggest, most pressing challenges facing coffee producers around the world.

Coffee producers at El Manzano in El Salvador. Credit: Campos Coffee

Pests, Diseases, & Fungi

Pests, diseases, and fungi have become a real threat for many producers. Coffee leaf rust (la roya) is one of the most famous diseases, and has been affecting coffee crops for over a century. In 2012, it hit Central America hard. And over the next two years, it caused over $1 billion in damage (USAID).

Maria Pacas, a fifth-generation coffee producer with Café Pacas, El Salvador, tells me that she has noticed crop levels decline over the last few years due to the 2012 epidemic. In the Ixil region of Guatemala, it destroyed 75% of the coffee crop.

While la roya doesn’t affect all varieties and species of coffee, it’s normally the ones that produce higher-quality coffee – and sell for higher prices – that are most susceptible. And even farmers who opt to plant rust-resistant coffee species and varieties, accepting decreased incomes in exchange for decreased risk, are still vulnerable. As a living organism, la roya is constantly involving.

After 2012, many farmers in Honduras planted Lempira as a rust-resistant replacement crop. But earlier this month, news broke that the WCR have recategorised Lempira as susceptible to rust – and warned producers in Honduras of “the possible development of a severe attack once the rains are established.

On Facebook, WCR responded to the situation by stating that “an underlying problem is that we have been relying on the same varieties for rust resistance for too many years”. Yet changing crops is costly, especially when it will take five years for the trees to produce the same amounts of coffee. And research takes time.

Another big issue is the coffee berry borer beetle (la broca), which bores into the coffee cherry and lays eggs in the seed endosperm. But farmers have to watch out for far more than just la broca: other common pests include green coffee scale, mealybugs, termites, leaf miner, and many more. These all affect both the quality and yield of coffee crops.

La Roya: a devastating foliar disease that threatens coffee everywhere.Credit: Patrick Murray

Climate Change Causes Problems for Arabica

Producers have no power over changes in the environment, but when their harvest suffers as a result, they do too. They need their harvest season to cover the fixed costs they’ve incurred throughout the year.

Currently, climate change is leading to rising temperatures and new rainfall patterns – something that’s placing the Arabica coffee species under threat. There are four main species: Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica. Arabica is widely considered to be the best quality, thanks to its aromatic flavours, and so it attracts higher prices. It also accounts for roughly twice as much of the international coffee market (ICO).

However, Arabica is more sensitive to temperature increases, which reduce its growth, ability to flower, and consequent ability to produce fruit. It needs to grow at cooler temperatures than the other species. This means it’s usually cultivated at higher altitudes.

As climates change, the available fertile land for Arabica decreases. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted a 10-20% decrease in overall crop yields by 2050. What’s more, pests that once found the high altitudes of Arabica farms too cold to survive are now able to thrive up there. And Arabica is more sensitive to these than Robusta is.

It’s easy to hear data like this and not be able to picture the real impact on the farm. But while this change takes place slowly, over years, it’s still visible in weaker trees and greater numbers of pests.

Climate change affects the heights at which coffee grows. Credit: Angie Molina Ospina

Climate Change & Unpredictable Rains

What’s more, those sudden heavy rains do have a strong and immediate impact. Producers rely on a dry harvest season – something that, at one point in time, in most countries they could take nearly for granted. Now, however, it is a different story.

Heavy rain can cause issues during harvesting and processing: cherries splitting on the tree and losing their mucilage, fermentation during processing, and more. This is a particular concern when producers are honey or natural/dry processing coffee, since these need lots of time under direct sunlight to thoroughly dry.

They can also lead to unpredictable harvests. Coffee cherries ripen nine months after the coffee flowers blossom (with Arabica – it varies from species to species). Yet Eko Purnomowidi, a coffee producer in Java, Indonesia and partner of Olam Specialty Coffee, tells me that changing patterns of seasonal rainfall has caused erratic flowering over the past few years. This means that the coffee cherries ripen at different times.

The result? Pickers also need to collect the coffee cherries at different times. If they mismanage it, they might end up picking unripe coffee cherries – which will have a negative impact on the coffee flavour and mean specialty buyers will be less interested.

Alternatively, overripe fruit starts to develop less appealing herbal notes. And if cherries drop from the tree, because they have been left too long before picking, they may ferment on the ground and cause unpleasant flavours in the cup. In the worst of cases, it might result in full black or partial black green bean defects – and even just one full black bean in a 300g sample will rule out specialty coffee status.

These coffee cherries are ripening at different times. Credit: All about coffee and more

Labour Shortages

We’ve looked at issues relating to the coffee crop itself. Now let’s look at the coffee producers and farm workers.

Heleanna Georgalis, Managing Director of Moplaco, Ethiopia tells me that one of the biggest risks she sees is the lack of labour. Coffee processing requires workers at every stage of the process.

However, the average age of a coffee producer is growing, and the numbers of them decreasing. Children from coffee-producing families, seeing the struggles their families face, often choose to migrate to the city to find better opportunities.

What’s more, farmers often talk about the difficulty of finding coffee pickers to harvest the coffee cherries off the tree. We’ve already discussed how important picking coffees when ripe is – but it’s only possible to do it when there are enough staff.

In most places, coffee picking is seasonal and sometimes even nomadic work. The pickers are paid based on the weight of the cherries they collect, and they need to work 8 hours a day on steep hillsides for their pay. Then, at the end of the harvest, they have to find other jobs or move to other regions. It’s easy to see why people might choose other forms of work.

Evelio Francisco Alvarado, General Manager of Anacafé, tells me that labour makes up 50–65% of the cost of coffee production in Latin America. But when there are few workers available, the price increases. Maria Pacas also tells me that this increase in costs has forced her to automate some of Café Pacas’ processes.

Without these coffee pickers, the coffee would just ferment on the branch. Credit: Campesino Specialty

Price Fluctuation & Unreliable Incomes

Both commodity-grade and specialty-grade coffee producers are affected by price fluctuations, although there are differences in how. Let’s begin by looking at commodity coffee.

The commodity-grade price (C price) is based primarily on the NY Commodity Exchange. But Evelio Francisco Alvarado explains that this price fluctuates regularly. Take Brazil: from 2010/11 to 2013, coffee prices dropped to less than half while costs continued to rise. Unfortunately, the C price is based on supply and demand – not the cost of farming.

What’s more, due to these fluctuations, producers are unable to predict pricing trends and plan ahead. Evelio tells me that Anacafé considers this crucial, as producers need to know their production costs and see their farms as a real and profitable organisation.

Jhon Espitia, an agronomist and coffee grower in Colombia, tells me that this becomes more complex when we look at the impact of climate change. Producers know that, if they focus on high-quality coffee, they can try to enter the specialty market. This is normally linked to increased incomes – but it also requires greater investments in terms of resources and effort. Producers are trading one risk for another.

The biggest fear of a producer that’s considering working on specialty coffee is that they will not get enough in return for their efforts. Or that, perhaps they will one year, but the next, the weather will prevent them from producing quality coffee and they will lose the price premium.

Ripe-red coffee cherries dry on patios at Finca El Manzano/Cuatro M Dry Mill, El Salvador. Credit: Cuatro M

Limited Ability to Value Coffee

Linked to concerns over price and quality is the fact that many producers are unable to value their own coffee in the same way that buyers and consumers do. This can make it difficult to both improve farming methods and negotiate with buyers.

Heleanna explains that this is especially difficult for smallholder farmers, who are primarily  focused on their basic needs so that they can survive from day to day. For them, what a consumer wants is of little relevance to their life.

And for those able to focus on coffee quality, they still need to acquire new skills: cupping and sensory knowledge, market understanding, and often marketing – or at least a way to become visible to specialty coffee buyers. This is another reason why specialty coffee can be a risk.

Bigger farmers and bigger cooperatives do care, and they try to produce better coffee, if the price incentive is there,” Heleanna says. “Do not forget that consumers want the best without having to pay for it. And although consumers actually do pay better prices, this is not channelled down to the producer. It is the importer that benefits, in most cases.”

A family of indigenous coffee growers in Cauca, Colombia. Credit: Angie Molina Ospina

Coffee farming provides a livelihood for millions of people around the world. These challenges have a real impact on their lives, whether they are large farm owners or smallholders producing just 30 60-kilo bags a year.

There is no easy solution to these challenges. But as consumers, buyers, roasters, and baristas, we need to ask for more than a cup of coffee. We have the ability to choose where we spend our money – and to ask how much producers are paid.

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Coffee Statistics (2021)

February 4, 2021 Leave a comment

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages to ever exist, and the current coffee statistics more than indicate this. Understanding current trends in the coffee industry have a number of benefits for a wide range of different people. For the java businessperson, understanding where the market is headed can help you improve your own business model.

For the consumer, it serves both as an interesting topic of conversation, and as a unique means of getting exposed to new ideas and trends regarding the drink that you love.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to it, shall we? Read on for a ton of different coffee statistics!

History of Coffee Statistics

1. Coffee can be traced back to the 1400s where it was first consumed as a fragrant soup in the Sufi Monasteries.

2. Coffee first made its way to the Americas in 1714.

3. In the 1800s, coffee giants Folgers and Maxwell house came into existence, causing a wave of coffee consumption that resembles the world we know today.

4. In the early 1900s, home coffee roaster, espresso makers and instant coffee made it easier than ever to enjoy a good coffee at home.

5. Starting in the 1970s, the java industry started to focus on quality over quantity. This was especially true when Starbucks emerged in 1971.

Coffee Consumption Statistics

1. 50% of people in the United States drink coffee on a daily basis (this equates to approximately 150 million java drinkers in one country alone).

2. Of those 150 million coffee drinkers, most are consuming around three cups a day.

3. Approximately 65% of coffee in America is consumed during the morning. A remaining 30% is enjoyed either with lunch or dinner, and 5% is consumed independently of any meal.

4. Like your coffee black? You are in the minority. Only 35% of people drink their coffee straight. The rest add cream or sugar.

5. The average cup of coffee is 9 ounces.

Global Popularity Statistics

1. Over 2.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed on a daily basis all across the globe.

2. The beans for this coffee is sourced from 25 million different growers all over the world who depend on the industry to make their living.

3. The global coffee market sees at least ten million bags of coffee exported each and every month!

4. Arabica beans account for more than twice as much of the annual coffee export.

5. There are 3 billion coffee plants all over the world that are used to source our current supply.

Health Statistics

1. Drinking coffee may actually be good for your health. In fact, daily coffee consumption has been shown to have a direct correlation with a lowered risk for type 2 diabetes. Studies show that with all other factors being equal, adults who drink coffee daily are 24% less likely to get diabetes.

2. Daily coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, the more you drink, the better off you will be. Those who drink between 3-5 cups a day are significantly less likely to get Alzheimer’s.

3. Though coffee and cardiovascular health don’t always have a positive association, little risk has been proven. In fact, people who drink higher quantities of coffee have, in some studies, been shown to have a lower risk of heart disease.

4. Coffee has also been shown to assist with weight loss. The drink naturally stimulates the burning of fat and the improvement of your digestive system.

5. Want to live longer? Coffee might help you get there. Though causation has not yet been proven, there is a strong correlation between coffee and longer life expectancies.

Product Statistics

1. The majority of consumers are so hooked on coffee that they would prefer to do without showers or their cell phones than they would give up coffee!

2. Coffee seems to be a beverage for the financially comfortable. Over 65% of coffee drinkers earn at least $30,000 a year.

3. The older you are, the more likely it is that you will drink coffee. Indeed, 75% of senior citizens drink coffee on a daily basis!

4. Two species of bean (Arabica and Robusta) account for nearly 100% of all coffee. While there are several regional exceptions, virtually none of them account for the export market.

5. Though the coffee shop industry is enormous, coffee is still highly valued as a home product. In fact, 80% of people make their coffee at home more often than they buy it at the store.

Export Statistics (i.e., where is coffee coming from?)

1. Coffee is currently traded and exported from over 70 countries.

2. Though America is one of the biggest consumers of coffee on the planet, the region itself is not suitable for the growth of varieties coffee beans. In fact, Hawaii and California are the only states where commercial-grade coffee beans can be grown, and they make up a negligible portion of the export market.

3. Presently, Brazil is the number one exporter of coffee, accounting for a significant portion of the global supply.

4. Vietnam is relatively new to the global coffee industry but nevertheless has proven itself to be a rising star. Presently, they export the second most amount of coffee beans in the world.

5. The global coffee trade has a staggeringly high annual worth of $74 billion and accounts for many millions of jobs all around the globe.

Demographic Statistics (what type of people drink coffee)?

1. Millennials tend to drink coffee a little bit differently than previous generations. Though the bulk of coffee consumed still comes from bulk cans, 50% of millennials are willing to pay more for gourmet beans.

2. Men and women tend to have very different motivations for why they drink coffee. The average man claims to drink coffee to help them wake up, while the average woman says they drink coffee to help them relax.  

3. Half of all people between the ages of 18-24 drink coffee, a number that continues to go up the older you get.

4. Thought the United States feels quite strongly about its coffee, it’s still not the world’s biggest consumer of java. That distinction goes to the people of Finland. Finland has risen to the top of the coffee consumption demographic by boasting an annual intake of 12 kg per person.

This may be largely a cultural phenomenon. In Finland, coffee is not just a means to an end, but a thing to be enjoyed. Turkish coffee, known for its flavor and potency, is very popular there, and regular breaks are scheduled throughout the day for people to sit down and enjoy their java.

5. Citizens of the United States still account for a sizable portion of the global consumer demographic. Presently, the US is positioned as the 8th highest consumer of coffee in the world.

Brewing Method Statistics (How are people making their coffee)

1. The drip brew method is currently the most popular way to prepare coffee. Presently, 45% of all coffee made in the United States is done with a drip brew system. However, that number is in decline, especially as of the last 5 years. Indeed, it may be very possible that the traditional drip brew system will soon be usurped by the convenient and popular single-cup maker.

2. Espresso makers are currently the second most popular method of brewing coffee in the United States, accounting for 12% of what is brewed annually. However, this ranking may be somewhat distorted by the fact that the many different methods of sing serving brew systems are not necessarily statistically lumped together.

3. Though drip-brew systems represent the majority of coffee preparation, plain jane coffee does not account for the average person’s preference. In terms of sheer popularity, that distinction goes to cappuccinos. Indeed, 30% of coffee drinkers currently self report that the cappuccino is their favorite caffeinated beverage.

4. Though coffee production is notoriously bad for the environment, the average consumer seems to have an interest in curbing this problem. More than half of all coffee drinkers report that they prioritize brewing and consuming coffee that has been sourced from environmentally friendly farms.

5. The average millennial asks a little bit more from their coffee than the rest of the java drinking population. Presently, approximately 74% of millennials are drinking gourmet coffee on a daily basis.

Caffeine Statistics

1. Coffee is far and away, the most popular source of caffeine. Indeed, java currently accounts for 65% of all caffeine intake.

2. There are 95 milligrams of caffeine in your average cup of coffee. Doctors recommend that individuals keep their daily intake at or below 400 milligrams. Since the average person drinks three cups a day, most of us are staying well below that threshold.

3. While you can stay safely within the recommended caffeine threshold when using drip brew, things get a little dicier when you opt for espresso. There are 64 milligrams of caffeine in a single shot of espresso. And while this is technically less than the content of a cup of average coffee, these numbers do not tell the whole story.

For perspective, the espresso figure refers to a single ounce serving, whereas the coffee numbers refer to eight ounces. This means that, to scale, espresso has substantially more caffeine than coffee.

For further perspective, most of the world’s most popular coffee drinks are espresso-based (cappuccinos, lattes, etc.).

Containing caffeine in chocolate covered espresso beans is almost the same as conventional espresso beans, but its taste enormously better, especially those who love chocolate flavors.

4. Seattle Washington leads the United States in coffee consumption. This won’t be surprising for those who know that this is where the global coffee juggernaut Starbucks saw its beginnings.

5. Currently, 90% of Americans are consuming caffeine in some form or another on a daily basis. This means that statistically speaking, it is far and away from the most addictive drug in the country!

Coffee Shop Statistics

1. Though coffee shops are very popular, the vast majority of people prefer to drink and run. In fact, more than 50% of all coffee shop orders take place at the drive-through window!

2. If you want to make money in the coffee industry, opening up a café may not be such a bad idea. On average, 60% of people visit coffee shops every month. Beware, though, the majority of those visits are happening at well-established coffee chains!

3. does it feel like there is a coffee shop everywhere you turn your head? Well, there kind of is. In the United States alone, there are over 35,0000 coffee shops. Bearing in mind that there are only 3000 counties, this means that, statistically speaking, there are probably at least ten coffee shops that are easily within driving distance of you right now.

4. Local coffee shops are great fun, but they also represent a statistical minority. Currently, 4 out of every 5 coffee shops are a chain location (think Starbucks, Einstein Bagels, etc.). It’s hard competing with the giants, so tip well the next time you go out to your local café!

5. It may come as no surprise to you that coffee shops are among the most profitable of restaurants, not just because of their popularity, but also based on their sheer profit margins. Coffee shops tend to see profit margins of 60-70%.

Closing Remarks

Woah, pretty impressive, huh? And yet, not very surprising to those of us who can’t get through a day without a cup of coffee or three. One of the most interesting things about coffee statistics is that they continue to rise each year. It seems that with each turn of the calendar, people are enjoying their java more and more.

And what’s not to like? In addition to being delicious and very helpful in terms of daily productivity, coffee may actually be good for you! While the world may need to focus on sustainability in the coffee industry in the years to come, the beverage nevertheless clearly has a bright future ahead of it.

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How Harvest Rains Destroy Coffee Crops

February 3, 2021 Leave a comment

Harvest time in El Salvador is November to February/March. It’s a cool, dry season perfect for the picking of coffee cherries. Yet this year it’s already been marked by heavy rains.

While in El Salvador for the first PDG Micro Coffee Festival, we saw rainfall strike suddenly and dramatically. Coffee flowers were opening on the trees even as pickers were harvesting cherries – something you might expect to see in Colombia, but not El Salvador. Carlos Pola of Finca Las Brisas told me, “It’s like snow in June. It never rains at this time of year.”

This isn’t just a freak weather phenomenon. This is a serious concern for many producers, who face decreased income this year and an irregular harvest next year.

A Rainy Harvest Means Damaged Coffee

While rain is important for growing high yields of well-developed coffee, it poses a threat for ripe cherries. They may fall from the ground, where if left too long they will begin fermenting.

In other cases, the cherries may stay on the branch but start cracking. This happens when a lot of water is quickly absorbed and so the cells in ripe cherry peel are forced apart. The sweet mucilage seeps out of the cracks, resulting in a lower weight and a worse cup score. “It loses all its honey,” Rafael Silva of SICAFE explained.

Ripe coffee cherries split due to harvest rains. Credit: Andres Salaverria

On a night visit to Cuatro M processing mill as part of the Micro Coffee Festival, we saw how coffee cherries are graded based on ripeness. The ideal lot has many ripe red cherries, few over-ripe ones, few pink ones, and no under-ripe ones. “Tomorrow, we’ll pick pink because of the rain,” Roberto, the General Manager, told me. “It’s a risk, waiting for the cherries to become ripe.”

Picking pink will mean a lower cup score and price. But waiting to pick red risks losing large portions of the harvest or seeing a lower cup score. It’s a lose-lose situation.

This random sample contains over-ripe, ripe, and pink cherries. Credit: Tanya Newton

Issues at the Mill

Rain doesn’t just cause problems on the farm. It’s also an issue at the mill. Rafael explained that, for recently picked coffees, it’s okay if they get a little wet – but that for those that are nearly at the right moisture level to be bagged and exported, it can have a serious impact. “You need to dry them again,” he said. “It needs a second processing. That causes quality issues.”

Even if you only have freshly picked coffees drying on your patio, heavy rain can still cause problems. “You need to put wood between the lots, or they can mix,” Rafael told me. “Then you cover them. But when it comes down this fast… ” He gestures at the rain around us. “Then you don’t have time to do that.”

The rain’s sudden appearance is one of its most damaging aspects. Even those with coffee in GrainPro channels, designed to protect the beans from rain, stood to suffer: at Micro Coffee Festival, they didn’t have time to close the bags before significant amounts of water had already drenched them.

This is the peak time for mills right now,” Rodrigo Silva of SICAFE said. “And so it’s the hardest time to deal with rain.”

During harvest season, many lots are processed on the same patios or beds. Credit: Mapache Coffee

The Financial Impact on Coffee Producers

Those processing natural and honey coffees are the worst hit, along with smallholder farmers with less staff, resources, and financial breathing space.

Rafael and Rodrigo told me that rains like this can see cupping scores decrease by a few points or more. The market price for coffee is approx. $1.30-1.35/lb right now; specialty is $2.50-3.00/lb. Specialty coffee cups at 80 points or higher, but many roasters will only purchase single origins that are 84+. The difference between a 79 and an 82, or an 82 and an 85, is costly.

And smallholder farmers in particular may be left with no choice but to watch their coffee depreciate in quality. “We have to call our mills to have them separate and cover coffee,” Rafael told me. “And to move nearly ready cherries inside the greenhouse… [But] smaller farmers just have to pick up all their cherries the very next thing.”

After harvest rains, it’s important to quickly pick ripe cherries.Credit: Nim Khu

Issues Extending Into Next Year

“Next year, we’ll be harvesting in August.”

It’s a comment I heard multiple times during Micro Coffee Festival El Salvador. Heavy rains caused coffee flowers to appear on the branches early – but the appearance of flowers is linked to the development of cherries. While it varies, depending on variety and location, Arabica cherries typically appear nine months after the appearance of the coffee flower.

Coffee blossoms on the branch at the same time as ripe cherries in Colombia. Credit: Finca Atikvah

With the high probability of this year’s crop being both lower quality and lower yield, some low-income farmers might appreciate an earlier harvest next year. It may help stave off the “thin months”, that period before the harvest when money for food has run out.

But an early harvest will impact on supply and demand, as Salvadoran coffees compete with those that normally appear in August – such as Peruvians, Brazilians, and Kenyans. Less demand and more supply means lower prices and so those thin months might last even longer.

Typically, an early harvest could also lead to a shortage of pickers, as it is seasonal work. However, since coffee leaf rust (la roya) hit hard in 2012, affecting yield as well as quality, there has been a surplus of coffee pickers – one producer estimated there to be 25% more pickers than is needed.

Even this silver lining merely cloaks a nasty reality, however: if the harvest starts early, it will probably end early. Pickers who normally hope to work until February or even March may find themselves out of a job come December. And the gap between the 2017 and 2018 harvest will be wider, meaning the length of those thin months is likely to increase.

Coffee workers sort cherries at Mapache Coffee in El Salvador. Credit: Mapache Coffee

A Blind Specialty Industry?

Rodrigo Silva of SICAFE told me, “Genuine buyers don’t get to see these problems. When they come to the farms, it’s not rainy season. And so they have no idea of the problems a simple rain can bring.”

Only twenty minutes earlier, Jesús Salazar of Cafeólogo discussed the reasons why some coffee producers may prefer to work with local “coyotes” than with specialty buyers. One of the reasons is that there’s less risk: if it rains, the coyote will still buy the coffee.

There is no easy answer to the problem of harvest rains. The specialty industry must continue to care about quality – but we cannot ignore the welfare of the producers and farm workers to do so. We need to ask ourselves what more we can do to provide income stability, not just when the weather is good, but also when rain, wind, or disease destroys crops.

Paying higher prices, aiding producers in purchasing equipment to keep coffee dry, offering loans against future crops… No method will solve the issue of harvest rains, but there are many ways we can attempt to support producers in the face of inconsistent weather conditions.

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A Coffee Producer’s Guide to Soil Management & Farm Conditions

February 2, 2021 Leave a comment

Our coffee can only be as good as the land that it’s grown on – but by my calculations, nearly 35% of coffee crops are produced in the wrong environmental conditions.

I’m talking about something called life zone, which refers to the temperature, luminosity/solar brilliance, rainfall, relative humidity, and soil characteristics that are best suited to coffee farming.

As an agronomist, allow me to take you through the ideal life zone for growing coffee – and what poor conditions will mean for your harvests.

Healthy coffee plants grow on hilltops. Credit: Alvaro Llobet

The Ideal Coffee-Growing Conditions

According to Dr. Gloria Gauggel, the ideal life zone for Arabica coffee is as follows:

Let’s break down some of these qualities in a little more detail.

Effective Soil Depth

When it comes to your soil, you need to consider both its structure (which includes the soil texture) and chemistry (essential elements and minerals).

These two factors are connected because of the coffee tree’s root structure. As the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) explains, each tree will have multiple types of roots. The tap roots will grow down deep. However, there are also many secondary roots.

The secondary roots lie within the top 30 cm of soil and their role is to recover water and nutrients from the soil. As of such, the essential elements are key – and a loamy soil of the right pH ensures that the coffee tree can absorb the nutrients well.

Essential Elements & Minerals

The coffee tree requires 16 essential elements for its proper nutrition. These can be divided into four groups, based on their function and importance.

Group 1: Carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. These elements are present in water and air, which is why the life zone is so important.

Group 2: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are also called “macronutrients,” due to the large amount of them that healthy coffee trees need.

Group 3: Calcium, magnesium, and sulphur. These are called “secondary elements,” because they are needed in lesser amounts than the macronutrients.

Group 4: Zinc, boron, manganese, molybdenum, iron, copper, and chlorine. These are called “microelements,” because even less of them is required – although they are still essential for coffee plant nutrition.

A coffee tree planted in an adequate life zone, allowing for strong, healthy growth. Credit: Alvaro Llobet

The importance of all these factors is visible in the plant’s harvest. Growing coffee in an adequate life zone reduces costs, makes work easier, and increases yield. In turn, this lowers risk levels and makes coffee production more financially sustainable.

For this reason, it’s important that producers plant coffee within an adequate life zone. Of course, within this life zone, there will still be variation in terms of soil conditions, hours of sunlight, rainfall, and more. These will require producers to adapt their farm management further (ideally with the assistance of an agronomist).

Good floration is the result of an ideal life zone. Credit: Alvaro Llobet

35% of Coffee Grown in The Wrong Life Zone

From an analysis of these factors, I have calculated that nearly 35% of the world’s coffee crops are outside the adequate life zone. During the past 10 years, I’ve visited 16 coffee-producing countries across three continents (America, Asia, and Africa). On these trips, I’ve worked on farm management, project development with small and medium-sized producers, and crop research.

That research involves the analysis of 22 aspects of coffee farming, ranging from the agronomical and environmental to the economic. My team analyzes one hectare per thousand hectares of coffee plantations in each country. We take as a reference the thermal zones and compare them to the physiological behavior of coffee trees, based on temperature and rainfall as the most relevant indicators.

From here, we reached the conclusion that 35% of coffee crops are planted outside the adequate life zone. Of that 35%, 30% are completely outside the ideal life zone. The remaining 5% are where farms are mostly within the ideal life zone but the producers have extended their plantation outside of it.

So what does it mean for producers if a farm is outside of the ideal life zone? Let’s take a look.

Bean damage as a result of low rainfall between weeks 14 and 20 of fruit development. Credit: Alvaro Llobet

Growing Coffee in Poor Conditions

If a farm is in an upper marginal zone, i.e. it exceeds the figures in the table, you can expect:

  • Slower tree growth
  • Lower productivity
  • A lower fruit yield with higher weight and density
  • Higher susceptibility to diseases
  • In the wet season, a higher risk of disease and pests
  • Better sensory qualities for the coffee
  • Increased production costs compared to crops within the adequate life zone
Coffee plants affected by the Phoma sp. Fungi. Credit: Alvaro Llobet

And if it’s in a lower marginal zone?

  • More aggressive tree growth
  • Higher productivity
  • Lower yield made up of low-density fruit
  • Higher susceptibility to pests and diseases
  • In drought seasons, a high risk of losing all or some of the plantation and/or harvest
  • Reduced sensory qualities
  • Increased production costs compared to crops within the adequate life zone

Of course, you should remember that you may also see these traits on farms in the adequate life zone if there are problems with the farm management. Healthy coffee plants are a result of many factors, including farming practices, life zone, and more.

Damage to coffee cherries caused by drought in the final stage of ripening. Credit: Alvaro Llobet

It’s important that we consider the ideal farm location and soil condition for coffee production. Planting in the right zones can help producing families to realize greater profit margins on their crops. It can also stabilize climate conditions as the local ecosystem will be more balanced.

For producers, there’s so much more to consider than just the farm location and soil condition: asset management, financial restructuring, varieties, processing methods, laborers… But the life zone is an important starting point.

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How Field Mapping Can Increase Profitability For Coffee Producers

February 1, 2021 Leave a comment

How can you achieve both higher productivity and improved quality on your coffee farm? By using field mapping. The method can help you better understand your land, improve yield and quality, and create an opportunity to match both your specialty and commodity coffee to its correct market.

Take a look at what field mapping is, how it works, and what is preventing it from being more widely used.

A farmer picks ripe cherries in El Salvador. Credit: Maren Barbee via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

What Is Field Mapping?

Field mapping is agricultural data analysis. By gathering and analysing data about your coffee crops, you can introduce more precise management plans, monitor quality, and potentially increase yield. The coffee can then be sold as either commodity or specialty grade to the relevant market.

In simple terms, field mapping allows you to match the right coffee to the right part of your land and understand what it needs to thrive.

Through data analysis, you can mark lots with high potential for additional investment of resources. Lots with lower potential may receive lower investment, in line with their predicted profitability. After harvesting and processing, each lot is sold to its appropriate market.

By using methods such as soil analysis and visual data, field mapping can save producers time, effort, and money.

Smallholders learn about fieldmapping in Guatemala. Credit: One by One/Grupo Agrocoban

Why Use Field Mapping?

In 2016, the global coffee yield average was 17 bags per hectare. This varied wildly from 42 bags per hectare in Vietnam, 23 bags per hectare in Brazil, to 8 bags per hectare in Ethiopia. The ICO attributed this variation to poor farming practices. It stated that “less than 10% of smallholders in Africa use crop protection or fertilisers, and most tend not to utilise basic agronomic techniques.

At the fourth World Coffee Conference, in 2016, Geraldine Joselyn Fraser-Moleketi, presenting as the Special Envoy on Gender of the African Development Bank, stated “we must support farmers to achieve higher coffee productivity and improved quality through better farm management practices”.

These better farm management practices include field mapping. Let’s look at the practical benefits, some real-life examples, and what field mapping involves.

Mechanically harvested coffee. Credit: Fazenda Santa Jucy

Field Mapping Means Better Quality

Fazenda Santa Jucy is a farm in São Paulo state, Brazil that produces Arabica. The director, Alexandre Provencio, tells me that he introduced field mapping four years ago. He says that before doing so, the farm management plans on Santa Jucy were limited, with up to 20 hectares of land used to grow one variety of coffee.

After analysing the soil and cupping and classifying each crop, he found that “a field of about 20 hectares [had] about four different types of characteristics”. Each of these characteristics changed the way the same variety of coffee grew.

Armed with his new knowledge about the land, Alexandre split this 20 hectares into smaller lots based on the different characteristics. He has since been able to better direct his resources. Rather than applying fertiliser to all 20 hectares, he can use it only on the specific lots that need it. This reduces costs and allows each lot of coffee to thrive.

A mixture of ripe and unripe cherries. Credit: Fazenda Santa Jucy

Matching Coffee to Its Correct Market

Alexandre tells me that the same site has the potential to produce exceptional specialty coffee, specialty coffee, and commodity coffee. The challenge at Santa Jucy, he says, is to keep the specialty percentages high. To achieve this, lots with potential to produce specialty grade coffee are treated differently to those predicted to produce commodity grade coffee.

It’s a skilful way to manage a farm. Rather than investing time and money into trying to get specialty grade coffee from all of a large lot, why not determine where it makes sense to focus on specialty and where lends itself to commodity grade coffee? And then treat each lot according to its final market.

Through soil testing, you can determine the best variety of coffee for each area of your farm and pinpoint where to use fertilisers. Rather than viewing commodity and specialty as better or worse than one another, think of it as matching the land to its best coffee and then that coffee to the right market. Ideally, the two crops should support one another. Alexandre even says that you that “you cannot have specialty without commodity”.

Without field mapping, the coffee from all 20 hectares of Alexandre’s field might have been sold as commodity grade, despite having areas of specialty grade coffee. Field mapping can help you to better understand your land and coffee, and to more accurately predict profits.

Smallholder farmers learn about field mapping. Credit: One by One/Grupo Agrocoban

How Field Mapping Works

Field mapping can be split into two areas of data analysis: agronomic and visual. The most common form of agronomic field mapping is soil analysis.

Let’s look at a concrete example. Nitrogen is necessary for healthy crop growth, but too much nitrogen in the later stages of growth can reduce the final size of the cherry. With soil analysis, you can check the nitrogen levels in your land and treat the soil accordingly. The final cherries will be larger, and the crop more profitable. Field mapping takes soil analysis a step further – rather than looking at soil quality in one area, it is the idea of looking at how soil varies across your farm and identifying how to best use each lot.

Manuel Ramos is the coordinator of the One by One sustainability programme in Guatemala. The initiative teaches smallholder farmers how to field map. He tells me that One by One teaches farmers to measure pH levels and nutrients in the soil, and then group their crops according to their deficiencies. Producers can then apply the right type and amount of fertiliser to the right lot.

Drying coffee in a patio.

For larger farms, visual field mapping through GIS technology can be more effective. Jarvis Technologies uses GIS and drone technology to analyse crops on large coffee farms. The company’s CEO, Luis Gomez, tells me that this technology is able to produce high-resolution images, GIS-interactive maps, and 3D models of farms.

Luis says that it can take one or two months to manually map a farm, but that with GIS and drone technology, 100 hectares can be captured within 30 minutes. Results can be delivered to producers within a day or two.

This quick turnaround is essential for preventing the spread of visible diseases. Leaf rust, for example, can spread across a farm in as little as 15 days. With GIS mapping, you can see the exact coordinates of affected areas and know precisely where to apply fungicides.

Coffee trees at a farm in Guatemala. Credit: Julio Guevara

The Costs and Practicalities of Field Mapping

Although field mapping is useful for both smallholders and large-scale farmers, and can be applied to both commodity and specialty crops, its use is limited by expense. At present, there is a lack of affordable technology designed for smallholder farmers and access to technology is limited.

But there are affordable ways to start introducing the principles to your farm. Consider which crops grow best in which area and look into basic soil testing. By identifying nutritional deficiencies, you can choose which variety of coffee will best fit each lot of your land and where to invest more resources. You can also cup coffees from each lot and evaluate the quality to give you insight into which area suits which variety.

Field mapping can enable you to better understand your land, direct resources, and market the final coffee – whether it is commodity, specialty, or both.

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Choosing The Right Coffee Varieties For Your Farm

January 28, 2021 Leave a comment

A producer picks yellow coffee cherries.

An important part of producing quality coffee is choosing the right varieties for your land. Why invest in plants that need additional resources that aren’t reflected in the final price? But how do decide which is the right variety for you?

Choosing a type of coffee should be based on a number of factors including genetics, environment, access to the market, and budget. Let’s look at these elements and what else to consider when choosing a variety of coffee.

One-year-old Castillo trees at Vereda Jámbalo in Cauca, Colombia. Credit: Diego Cobo

Genetic Advantages

Different types of coffee have different characteristics, including flavor, pest-resistance, yield, and more. But these genetic differences should only be one consideration in choosing a variety. For example, Robusta is generally more pest- and disease-resistant than Arabica, but Arabica has more desirable flavors and therefore a bigger market with better prices, so most producers choose to grow it.

Jorge Raul Rivera, is the producer of Finca Santa Rosa in San Ignacio, El Salvador. He tells me that farmers in El Salvador often choose to grow Pacamara despite its relatively low yield and vulnerability to coffee leaf rust. “We look at the [quality of the] variety, not the ease of maintenance,” he says. “Quality is always better in a plant that produces less.”

The choice of variety will affect how a farm is managed, to whom the producer will market their beans, and will influence what method of processing is used. Carlos Pineda is the director of the school of coffee tasting at Instituto Hondureño del Café. He says that “the coffee variety lets us know the versatility that the coffee plant will have.”

Climate & Environment

The place where you grow coffee should be a major factor in deciding which variety to produce. One variety may have a high yield and be in demand, but does it thrive in your climate?

There’s no point investing in a crop that needs a relatively cool, dry environment if you live in a warm, humid one. It either won’t produce high-quality beans or it will require much more investment to do so.

Diego Cobo is the manager of Elixir Cafe in Cauca, Colombia. He says, “The variables that we need to consider for quality are genotype, the place of origin of the seed, and the characteristics of the field.”

He tells me that Castillo is a popular variety in the region he lives in for its ease of maintenance. He says that it’s a variety that is already adapted to the local environment and tolerant to coffee leaf rust, a potentially devastating disease.

Make sure to do detailed research into your climate including rainfall, humidity, and temperature. You may also want to use field mapping techniques such as soil analysis to evaluate which varieties will thrive on your land and what amounts of fertilizer will be beneficial. This kind of analysis can reveal that it’s better to grow two or more varieties in different areas of the farm, rather than planting the all of the land with the same variety.

A one-year-old Castillo plant at Vereda Jámbalo Cauca, Colombia. Credit: Diego Cobo

Resources & Budget

The varieties you choose should also be based on your access to resources and budget. Before choosing what to plant, work out whether you have the funds to cover all the expenses associated with the specific variety and if all the supplies are available in your area.

Diego tells me that some Colombian producers choose to grow Geisha. He says that this variety needs five or six fertilizations per year versus the three required for Castillo. Producers who grow Geisha also need to be more aware of pests and the overall maintenance is more complicated, he says. Without the budget for workers, pest control, and fertilizer, this likely wouldn’t return a good yield and may mean a loss of investment.

A producer prepares a nursery in Colombia. Credit: Diego Cobo

Consider The Market

It’s important to consider consumer demands and your own access to the market when choosing a variety. If you invest in specialty coffee but don’t have the relationships to sell it at the right price, you may be left at a loss. Similarly, if there’s no demand for the variety you grow, or it is in surplus, you may be forced to sell it at below-market prices.

Carlos says, “Another factor to consider when selecting coffee varieties is the market, the elegance of the cup, and who is going to buy it.”

So, do some research into local selling opportunities and consider joining an association or cooperative that could help you make new business relationships. As an aligned group of producers, you may have better access to resources, be able to leverage better marketing and business opportunities, and learn from one another’s experiences.

Coffee farm in El Salvador. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre

How to Choose Your Specific Plants

Many farmers buy seeds or plants from a vendor, but others use their own seeds. Jorge tells me that it’s common for producers to use local seeds in El Salvador and that they offer an advantage because the plants are already adapted to the environment. He says that using local seeds allows more confidence in the purity and hardiness of the variety, and that this results in better quality in the final cup.

He cautions against using varieties developed elsewhere, saying that they will need to adapt to their new environment and that this may impact quality.

Ripe coffee cherries. Credit: Mapache Coffee

If you decide to use local plants for seed, choose mother plants that are healthy and vigorous with straight, thick trunks. The primary branches should be not too distant from each other. Opt for plants that have shown fast development and abundant yield of cherries. Branches with the highest number of nodes have the most productivity, so take cherries from these branches and select only healthy and completely ripe ones.

Diego tells me about a traditional method that he says many coffee producers use. Harvest 100 mature, healthy cherries and submerge them in water. If the floating cherries are less than eight, that is a good candidate to be a mother plant.

He explains that it’s not recommended to use a plant that has a lot of floating cherries, because these are the ones with low density, which means they’re likely less developed and have a low probability of germination.

Coffee plants in Cauca, Colombia. Credit: Diego Cobo

Choosing the right varieties for your farm is a balance of many interrelated factors. Make sure that you’re being honest in your evaluation of your own circumstances and do some research into the different varieties and local resources. By carefully considering genetic components, environmental conditions, and the market, you can find the most appropriate varieties for your farm.

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Coffee Culture in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

January 25, 2021 Leave a comment

Coffee has always been a main part of Middle Eastern culture especially in Saudi Arabian Culture, a traditional companion at meetings, weddings and a wide variety of social events. In Saudi Arabian families, there is never an occasion where the “dalla” — the traditional Arabic coffee maker — is unavailable. Coffee is aided over and over again in tiny Arabic coffee cups. Lately, there has been a rise in additional branch of coffee culture, ‘specialty coffee.’ Western coffee culture has spread rapidly in Saudi Arabia, with local cafes popping up on the streets and in shopping malls. Their growing popularity is well deserved.

Majority Coffee shops have turned into a social hub in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where people gather to share ideas and stories. They have become part of many people’s daily routine, and residents of the Kingdom are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of social interaction and exchange in such places — which offer space for dialogue, art and culture.

The growing number of cafes has helped people share their passion for coffee, proving that it is much more than a beverage. Back in the day, there was just Arabic coffee, but gradually Americanos, cappuccino and other types of hot coffee were introduced. Also due to the hot weather, cold coffees were introduced, which is a big change, recent events have been held to highlight the history and development of coffee in Jeddah. In November, two major events promoted different cafes and offered people a chance to taste their offerings.

Specialty Coffee and Arab Culture

Coffee experts explain that the third wave of coffee is the appreciation of high-quality beans, and the purchasing of coffee based on its origins and artisanal methods of production. The concept of the third wave is interchangeable with the rise of specialty coffee, an idea that countless resources point out is a current trend in the region. The Khaleej Times indicates that by 2020, the GCC will make up 50% of the global coffee market. These indicators imply that the region has adopted these trends to mimic Western lifestyles.

Arabs have always appreciated coffee as an artisanal product. Arab experimented with different methods of coffee making as well as trying various recipes and style. It is well known that Arabs add cinnamon, saffron and cardamom in their coffee, but that Levantine Arabs drink it plain, black and frothy. The region’s coffee recipes are as diverse as the dialects spoken, and this has been the case for hundreds of years.

More than two cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific and fairly common genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. Coffee/Caffeine addiction can be a major problem in some people, including students and office workers who don’t have enough sleep and drink coffee to stay alert. The first step is admitting you have a problem with coffee, then start to work on solving the problem, Drinking half-caffeinated or decaffeinated versions can help, as can walking around the office or getting other physical activity when you feel sleepy. As long as it is not consumed in large quantities, coffee is something to be cherished and each cup enjoyed.

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Coffee Farms & Guest Rites: Saudi Arabia’s Unique Coffee Culture

January 24, 2021 Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia is a country of two coffee cultures: Arabic and specialty. With one, you have highly ritualized and historic coffee traditions that welcome guests. With the other, you have have a growing appreciation for lighter roasts and third wave brewing methods – and even some specialty coffee production.

Yes, that’s right: Saudi Arabia has coffee farms.

Khaled Almadi of Elixir Bunn, a roastery and café in Riyadh, agreed to talk to me about how these two traditions live side-by-side – and how he expects Saudi’s specialty industry to keep growing.

What Is Traditional Arabic Coffee?

Traditional Arabic coffee has a long history and great social significance – so much so that UNESCO has labeled it an Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO describes it as “a ceremonial act of generosity”, and it can be used to welcome guests, celebrate weddings, and even apply pressure in negotiations should a guest refuse to drink it.

Khaled says, “The ritual mainly takes place in homes, Bedouin tents, or at events. In cafés and restaurants, the ritual is not entirely compliant due to the commercialized aspect of service.”

Traditionally, the coffee beans would be roasted in front of the guest before being ground and brewed in a dallah, a beautiful Arabic coffee pot. Nowadays, however, the beans are typically roasted in the kitchen. Spices, such as cardamom, are often added.

The drink should be poured with the left hand and served to guests with the right hand. These guests should then consume it without sugar – despite the bitter taste. A bowl of dates may be provided to sweeten the taste, and it’s traditional to drink one to three cups.

Painting of a farmer in Jazan, first Specialty Coffee farm in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Elixir Bunn

Two Coffee Cultures: Specialty & Arabic

Saudi Arabia’s coffee is steeped in tradition, but Khaled tells me there is room for specialty coffee culture as well. He sees the two thriving simultaneously.

In fact, because the Arabic coffee ritual is difficult to duplicate in cafés, Khaled says that there is a gap to be filled by other coffee trends. Many of his customers may drink Arabic coffee at home with guests, but they will also consume specialty coffee – either at home or in his café. They just needed to be introduced to it first.

Non-Arabic coffee entered the mainstream, he continues, when international chains appeared in Riyadh. Establishments like Dunkin Donuts familiarized people with filter brews. And as those international chains “normalized” filter coffee, it was easier for third wave coffee shops and roasteries like Elixir Bunn to exist.

Specialty coffee being brewed for consumers in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Elixir Bunn

Rapid Growth

Elixir Bunn has seen a 220% growth since opening, with practically no marketing budget (they use social media for organic reach). Their success, Khaled tells me, lies in a focus on three things: quality products, quality service, and coffee education. And the latter is key to the development of Saudi’s coffee scene.

Khaled tells me that Elixir Bunn makes coffee education available both through the website and in the café. What’s more, it grows with its customers: as his staff shares information about coffee producers, origins, and processing methods, their customers share their thoughts and preferences.

What’s more, specialty is appealing to different demographics. Gender segregation is expected in Saudi restaurants and coffee houses. In fact, in 2016, the Starbucks in Riyadh was required to stop serving women after the barrier between the “bachelor” and “family” areas of the café collapsed. However, Khaled has recently expanded in order to serve women in a dedicated area of the coffee shop – a sign of the growing interest in third wave coffee.

This interest is also extending to competitions. In 2016, Saudi Arabia saw its first ever AeroPress Champion. And this year, Sara Al-Ali was a finalist in the World Cezve/Ibrik Championship.

Of course, specialty coffee is still a young tradition in Saudi Arabia, with much to build towards. Khaled says, “We’d expect a smoother ride when we create a specialty coffee association of Saudi Arabia.” But its quick development holds great promise for the region’s third wave.

Specialty coffee and third wave brewing kits for sale in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Elixir Bunn

The Saudi Coffee Palate

Khaled explains that it takes a few months for customers’ palates to adjust to specialty coffee. However, once they develop a taste for it, they are eager to explore different brewing methods and origins.

He’s noticed that the most popular specialty regions tend to be Colombian and Brazilian. There’s also an uptick in East African coffees – partly because of Saudi Arabia’s geographic location. What’s more, while it’s difficult for many other countries to import Yemeni coffee, it is abundant here.

And earlier this year, Saudi Arabia produced its first ever specialty coffee crop. Time will tell how Saudi customers respond to coffee grown in their own country.

Specialty espresso and pour over coffee being brewed. Credit: Elixir Bunn

Specialty Coffee Farming in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s specialty coffee crop is the fruit of years of work. The country has mainly a desert climate, with high daytime temperatures and low nighttime ones. There are only two exceptions to this: a strip of steppe in the west, and a small, humid region, with mild temperatures and long summers, just north of Yemen.

It is in this humid area, in the region of Addayer, that Saudi Arabia’s first specialty coffee farms exists. Sitting less than 15 miles away from the Yemen border, Addayer – along with other nearby counties – holds great potential for coffee production.

This year, the farms produced natural and washed coffee. Some of the lots were then independently cupped at 80, 81 and 84 points. Khaled tells me they show “promise”. He describes them as having “typical notes” for coffees cupping in the low 80s – chocolatey, nutty, and so on – but with a “surprising sweetness”.

It’s an exciting start for a new specialty coffee origin.

Addayer, Jizan in Saudi Arabia: the region of Saudi’s specialty coffee farms. Credit: Kal Coffee

Traditional brewing methods and hospitality, third wave roasters and consumers, and even coffee production – Saudi Arabia’s coffee culture is rich, complex, and still growing. And with ambitious industry leaders pushing it forwards by building specialty coffee farms and competing on the world stage, it will be interesting to see how the region develops.

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Coffee Haters Through The Ages: Historical Arguments Against Coffee

January 23, 2021 Leave a comment

Imagine a world without coffee. It’s hard, right? There are coffee shops on every corner, machines in the office, adverts on the TV, to-go cups clutched by tired commuters, friends chatting over lattes and flat whites… In fact, for us today, coffee’s inescapable (not that we’d want to get away from it anyway).

Yet our favourite drink hasn’t always been so popular. It’s been considered evil, the root of iniquity, and even a cloak for rebellion. And numerous times, it’s even been banned. Yes, banned.

So who banned it? Why? And where? Read on to find out.

Kaldi’s Monks

Even some versions of our coffee discovery myth involve fear and mistrust of the bean – after Kaldi returns from the hills with his coffee, he presents it to a local priest who, thinking it wicked, tosses the beans into the fire to dispose of them.

The result was an appealing aroma, the first roasted beans, and subsequently (though many years later) this very website. According to the myth, it didn’t take the monks long to decide that, far from the work of the devil, coffee must have been a gift from God.

Yet coffee has never been able to entirely shake the suspicion and fear it caused in that origin myth…

Sultan Murad IV

The story of coffee in the Middle East in a long and fascinating one, with Turkish coffee being particularly well-known. Amid centuries of consumption, there were seven dark years when it was strictly forbidden. You see, some interpretations of Islam take issue with coffee’s intoxicating qualities, and therefore it’s been argued that it’s forbidden under Islamic law.

In 1633 in Constantinople, Sultan Murad IV ordered the closure of all coffee houses and banned alcohol, tobacco, and coffee. The punishment for being caught consuming any of these three substances? Death – and not infrequently at the hands of Murad IV himself, who was rumoured to have infiltrated underground shops and personally decapitated coffee drinkers.

Curiously, while coffee had been popular in Constantinople for over a century at the time of the ban, Murad IV’s decree coincided with an increase in both the popularity and number of coffee houses in the city. Even with the threat of death looming, the pull of coffee was still strong and men continued to meet in clandestine coffee shops to chat and sip.

Following Murad’s death in 1640, the ban was technically still on the books but rarely enforced, in part because the coffee trade was economically advantageous for the Empire. Let all the coffee-drinkers in Istanbul rejoice!

Women of England

Early English coffee shops were similar to pubs in many ways, providing a public meeting space. The general political climate in England during this time, combined with concerns over this exotic, stimulating beverage, led to general skepticism around coffee shop patrons.

In 1674, The Women’s Petition Against Coffee, a pamphlet outlining the grievances of women against coffee and their coffee-swilling husbands, was published. It’s important to note that this was a work of satire, most likely penned by men. But the thing with satire is that it doesn’t work if it isn’t reflecting a truth in some way. This might not have been a genuine petition; however, it does reveal widespread anxiety about the social and political implications of this new beverage.

While coffee wasn’t successfully banned, the petition has stuck around and captured our fancy for centuries – in part because it’s, well, totally filthy. Go and read it.

Women’s Petition Against Coffee: a lewd protest against the side-effects of coffee. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

King Frederick I of Sweden

Scandinavians consume more coffee than residents of anywhere else on earth – but it turns out they haven’t always had the easiest time getting their hands on the drink.

When coffee was first introduced to Sweden, the nation went crazy over it. Yet King Frederick I was decidedly not a fan. In 1746, in an attempt to curb national consumption, he imposed a heavy tax on coffee (tea as well, but let’s not dwell on that). In a not entirely unsurprising turn of events, all the tax did was to create a flourishing black market for coffee. Escalating the situation, government officials began confiscating coffee brewing equipment and fining coffee drinkers, before finally enacting a full ban in 1756. Sweden then swung between full bans on coffee and heavy taxation for much of the next century, with the last of the coffee sanctions in place until 1823.

Today, Sweden is home to a flourishing and inventive coffee culture, and the SCAE’s World of Coffee was even held here in 2015 – Frederick I would be rolling in his grave. Read more about Swedish coffee rituals here.

Sweden: Nordic paradise or coffee-hating void? Credit: Håkan Dahlström, Flickr

Bonus Point: Gendered Coffee Bans

Let’s step away from a geographically oriented examination of coffee bans for a moment and consider that sometimes it isn’t where you are that counts – it’s who you are.

Constantinople, London, Sweden…in each of these instances, the public spaces for coffee consumption were, at times, only available to men (plus racial and class differences also influenced who was allowed to participate in public coffee life).

Women were banned for various reasons, but commonly because it would have been simply indecent to be in the public company of men while drinking an intoxicating beverage. Coffee houses were considered potentially seedy and dangerous places (meaning that, instead, women were at the forefront of home brewing).

Additionally, the possible health consequences of coffee were thought to be more dangerous for women. In fact, the debate on caffeine and pregnancy still rages on today, and it isn’t unheard of for pregnant women to be denied caffeinated coffee by servers.

Dangerous and subversive renegade. Credit: Pexels.com

But Why Ban Coffee?

So what on earth is behind all these coffee restrictions? Well, it turns out it’s not so much the beverage itself, although various arguments have been made for adverse health effects, as in Sweden where it was actually thought to lessen worker productivity.

No, the real problem was the social forces found in coffee shops. Coffee shops were seen as places where rebellion and antiauthoritarian thoughts might ferment – as places where people might plan and plot, spurred on by the exotic intoxicant. As of such, most historic coffee bans were driven by governmental fear of what citizens might do if given a secular and uncontrolled meeting place, in addition to the fear of increased autonomy for marginalized groups.

Over time, increased home brewing domesticated coffee and largely removed it from the public sphere, rendering coffee much less seditious and threatening. However, the contemporary renewal of interest in coffee shops could mean something interesting is brewing…

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Categories: Coffee History