Coffee of Madagascar

Madagascar Coffee

Here is my article about my visit to Madagascar and discovering new coffee farm in the Land of Enchantment. Enjoy

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Coffee Sector of Cuba. Article in Coffee Break Magazine for Romania and the rest of Europe

This gallery contains 6 photos.

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Struggling to Build Specialty in Nepal

Source: Struggling to Build Specialty in Nepal

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From Holland to Norway – from Esther to Kari. Specialty Coffee is everywhere you go.

There is nothing more exciting than meeting different folks from specialty coffee industry around the world. Specialty coffee is rapidly growing sector in the US economy today. More and more new coffee shops opening in various places of our country, more people involved in specialty coffee industry that helps to spread the knowledge and educate others what specialty coffee is about. People start noticing things different about coffee. People start to understand specific details about what farm particular coffee came from, where it was grown, at what elevation, and getting closer attention to varietals of coffee beans. As we take the first sip, our sense of taste introduces to the origin flavors of coffee from the country it came from. Coffee is not only a drink but the full science that wraps around it.

I would like to take this opportunity and talk to two different baristi from two different countries and see what is their view about specialty coffee. This time we turn our attention to Norway and Holland. What do they think about crafted quality based beverage? What is their personal affair with espresso, coffee and latte art.

Esther Maasdam, 26 is from the Netherlands and works in specialty coffee business for 8 years now. Esther makes coffee for various events and festivals across the Europe and she loves that, it is her true passion. She started in specialty coffee industry when she was looking for a job besides her study, something related to the craft. When time was passing by and still no job secured her friends started to worry about her. After months of search Esther all of sudden found an ad: “Do you want to make quality coffee for events?” Without any hesitation she decided to give a shot and the job was launched. She started to learn about specialty coffee on the spot while working on different events, talking and learning from her colleagues to gain more knowledge about what specialty coffee was about. In her own words, Esther describes her first hand experience with specialty coffee, “I was making coffee on festivals, weddings and openings. I was going from big cities to little towns. I served coffee to rich and poor, including businessman and housewives. It gave me the chance to introduce so many people to speciality coffee.  I was going back home happy everyday and knew I wanted to go further with specialty coffee to achieve something more”.

Kari Janne Andersen is barista from Norway and the owner of coffee shop KaffiKari in Ulsteinvik. Kari has a huge passion for specialty coffee and she loves meeting new baristi around the world. KaffiKari opened it door to customers on November 25, 2005. It has 15 employees and started with coffee and pastries in menu. Today KaffiKari is also a restaurant with regular business hours from 11 AM to 6 PM.  The concept was aimed to deliver the world’s best coffee. Before getting engage with specialty coffee, Kari had no clue what specialty coffee was about. She knew nothing about coffee at all. And from time to time she used to enjoy having mocha. Kari appreciates flavor as the most attribute in espresso. She finds espresso creama as corporated and undivided part of this very concentrated beverage and preaty appealing. From all brewing methods on the market nowadays, the Chemex is Kari’s preferred way to enjoy “clean cup” of coffee, she said. Kari pays a very particular attention to tamping, grinding, dosing and timing when it comes to achieving the appealing texture in espresso.

“And the great thing about the coffee business is making people happy with your coffee and your service. Never forget that it’s not only about sharing it with the coffee community, but with the whole community of this earth!” explains Esther Maasdam.

When we talked about coffee in general, all very important steps required to pass, before, we, coffee consumers could enjoy our favorite cup of coffee were duly noted. Esther continued: “There’s so many differtent tastes you can get in one cup, one coffee. And then you’ve got the experience of the body, the aftertaste, so much…. One coffee may be fantastic as an espresso, while the other tastes better in aeropress, or clever, and so on… You want different experiences on different times as well. Or depending on where you are. Personally I love to work with the espressomachine, because I get engage with the movement and rapidness to get multiple drinks ready in short period of time.”

Both, Esther and Karri were contestants at World Latte Art Championship that took place in Seoul, Korea early November of this year. Latte Art became part of specialty coffee industry, it is not only beautiful crafted effort barista trying to accomplish but the best approach to attract customers who appreciate your attention to details, the love you put in your job and the love that communicates with your patrons. It let people think that barista does care about this articulate profession that unravels all hidden nuances of coffee. To be proficient in latte art does take some time and a lot of practice and tremendous patience. Kari started learning about latte art by watching youtube videos at the beginning, but later on, in April 2011 she met with Stefanos Domatiotis  who offered to train her for few days. By spending some time in Athens and learning everything she could about coffee and latte art her suitcase was full of knowledge about specialty coffee and techniques needed to achieve perfect latte art. 2011 World Latte Art Champion Chris Loukakis was one of her on-site trainer as well. Basically, Taf Coffee has established itself as one of the top and pragmatic coffee shop and roasters not only in Europe but around the world.

By focusing on herself, her calmness, the milk and avoid being nervous Kari is doing her best to create appealing design in latte art to please her customers, and most of them became permanent by showing loyalty to Kari and her establishment. Kari decided that Seoul was her last venue to compete in World Latte Art Championship. Why and what the reason? You will never know what is going on in barista’s mind. Maybe she was nervous or fear took over while performing in front of judges? Sometimes when you think about timing which is 6 minutes to show your best work you feel being in rush. Here how Kari explains this: “It was the worse moment in my life. I got soooo nervous when the time started!!!” Hopefully we will be able to see Kari again in 2013 Championship, who knows? Never say never.

For Esther the concept of latte art is to make people happy. “…. it’s the best way to get  people outside of our coffee community involve! They don’t care about your brew temperature, or extraction time. But when you make them a beautifull latte art they are interested. Latte Art is the bridge between us, coffeegeeks and people who drink it.” said Esther.

Mikhail Sebastian: What coffee roast do you prefer, light, medium or dark?

Esther Maasdam: Also in this question it depends on the coffee and what you want to do with it. You need different roasts for that. I love to brew dripcoffee with a light roast, so you get a lot of fruity flavours, but for espresso I like light to medium, you also want to have a nice body in your espresso. And for cappuccino drinks I like a bit dark so it cuts through the milk and you can get a nice balance. Never too dark though, keep the flavours and don’t burn your beans!

Esther did not get to the finals at 2012 WLC but she did not have any regrets whatsoever, “I did what I wanted to do. I was really happy when I finished with both the artbar and the stage, no mistakes or anything. So I was, and still am  happy with that. There where just a lot of fantastic people.” 

Esther did not leave Seoul immediately after competition, she decided to stay for a while and enjoy some time discovering Korea, its people and culture and took time to visit various coffee shops and even volunteered behind the bar. It was the trip full of impressions and memories for Esther.

When we talked about crema as allure for espresso, Esther underlined one very important aspect of it: “The crema to me is allready something that looks beauttifull and then it’s the tool that helps you create the contrast in a latte art. They make each other stronger. Without crema you only have milk on top”.

So now Esther and Kari have all leverage needed to pursue further in specialty coffee industry. They became widely known among coffee professionals around the globe. The international bridge of coffee is never ended transparency that encompasses the idea of providing consumers information about the exact method used to process the coffee, the altitude on which it was grown, and the specific environmental practices used on the particular farm. Transparency is the mechanism that regulates specialty coffee that we all appreciate very much.

I wish a lot of success to Esther and Kari in their future journey in the field of specialty coffee. Maybe one day we get to have Special Permanent Mission for Specialty Coffee at the United Nations. Hard to predict, who knows?

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Cup of Excellence marks dedication to quality – Rwanda

14 November 2012

On 1st November 2012, the 345 members of the SNV-supported Kabakanya cooperative celebrated their third annual consecutive win at the Rwanda Cup of Excellence awards.

The world’s most esteemed award for top quality coffees, the Cup of Excellence has been held annually since 1999. The competition is now held in nine countries, with Rwanda being the first on the African continent. The Rwanda Cup of Excellence consists of a nationwide competition hosted in a selected district and an award ceremony in Kigali, followed by an auction of the winning lots to buyers from around the world – and finally, celebrations by the winning local cooperatives.

Of the 169 lots of fully washed coffee that were entered into the competition, only 26 gained 2012 Cup of Excellence awards. During the selection process the coffees are tasted at least five times by national and international cuppers.

The coffee lots entered by the Kabakanya cooperative brought in a total US$21,023 at auction.

Veneranda Nzayiturinka, the advisor responsible for the SNV coffee programme in Rwanda, said coffee farmer cooperatives were becoming more aware of the tangible benefits from this competition.

“The extra income from the Cup of Excellence is used to reinvest in the farm or to buy household supplies,” Veneranda said. “It encourages farmers to improve the quality of their product right from the gardens to the final consumers.”

The total value of coffee sold at the 2012 auction was US$312,332. While this was down against 2011 figures due to a slow global market, with the first bid at $US24.40, producers still obtained prices up to five times greater than those generally paid by major processors.

“Participation, and especially winning the awards, builds members loyalty to their cooperatives,” Félicien Gasirabo, the chairman of KABAKANYA Cooperative said. “As a consequence of the Cup of Excellence, the farmers deliver more and better coffee beans to the coffee washing stations.”

SNV consultant Francois Sihimbiro highlighted SNV’s role in strengthening the coffee value chain. “SNV’s inclusive business model gives importance to the farmer-owned coffee washing stations, reinforcing management skills and linking them to financial services and other service providers,” he said.

Underlining the importance of the Cup of Excellence, Alex Kanyankole, Director General of the National Agricultural Export Board explained the national strategy for the coffee value chain. “Our plan for 2012- 2017 aims at increasing production of green coffee from 22,000 metric tonnes to 35,000 metric tonnes, and income from $US 78 million to $US 157 million. Organising a big coffee event like the Cup of Excellence is a way to acknowledge the farmers dedication to quality and to call attention to the national coffee strategy.”

Source: SNV

SNV’s operations in Africa are managed in two regional offices; in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso covering West and Central Africa, and in Nairobi, Kenya covering East and Southern Africa.

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Drying Characteristics: Natural (Dry) Process: Ayutepeque Acaia – Four Way Process Experiment

Source: El Salvador Specialty Coffee
Natural processing is the oldest and most traditional way of producing coffee. In many parts of the world, it is still the most common; where, after harvesting, the coffee cherries are spread immediately onto patios or raised beds to dry.
Drying coffee in this manner requires the greatest amount of time, since the external fruit itself must dry, before the internal bean can effectively dry, and thereby reach the desired moisture content.
In most cases, coffees are taken directly from the farm to the patios.  Before drying the however, we put the cherries through a mechanical syphon.
This being the case, cherries are rinsed and sorted into the categories of sinkers and floaters, prior to drying, there is a uniformity / consistency in the cherries, and thereby can complete the drying process at approximately the same time. Were cherries not sorted into categories of ripeness and quality, it suffices to say that there would likely be drastic inconsistencies in the drying time for the batch of coffee, since some cherries were at maximum ripeness, while others are sometimes dried on the tree, or still unripe at the time of harvesting.
Sorting coffees into qualities of ripeness, is what enables the natural process to remain consistent throughout the drying process.
In this experiment, we washed, and introduced the cherries to the raised bed, at approximately 7:30 PM, on a Monday evening. While the other process methods completed the drying cycle in just over one week, the natural process required nearly two weeks time, before reaching a moisture content around 12%.
In our observations, cherries maintained much of their red color for three to four days of drying. In this time, the skins of the cherry maintain much of the moisture, and as they become wrinkled, maintain a soft semiliquid feel.   Upon reaching the fifth day however, they quickly turned a deep purple, which they remained for the rest of the drying cycle; until reaching near 12% moisture, at which point, the external cherry is hardened, and takes on a clean, smooth textured feel.
The cherries were removed from the raised beds at 8:00 AM on a Monday morning, exactly 13 and one-half days after being sorted and spread, a total of 324 hours. This amount of time was just over the average amount of days that we were expecting, however within the parameters of normal drying time for a natural process, which we find to usually take 10 – 14 days.
With the natural off of the raised beds, we have hulled and roasted the four samples; and now begin to set the table for what will be an exciting cupping.
Cherries, after 12 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries, after 12 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after 36 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after 36 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after 60 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after 60 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after 84 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after 84 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after almost 180 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after almost 180 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after almost 300 hours of drying on a raised bed.

Cherries after almost 300 hours of drying on a raised bed.

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Coffee and Climate Change: Reading Past the Headlines


By Emma Bladyka, SCAA Coffee Science Manager

By now you have likely heard of the new scientific study published last week in the online peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE that has sparked a flurry of doomsday headlines for coffee. The study is a collaborative effort between researchers at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Ethiopia. Since its publication on November 7th, it has been covered by the popular media with creative titles such as:

The Last Drop?Climate Change Could Kill Off CoffeeBrew Hoo! Coffee Could Disappear by 2080, Researchers SayClimate Change taking a toll on coffee;Try not to Panic, but Climate Change is Killing coffeeHow Coffee Could become Has-BeansCoffee Beans at Risk of ExtinctionCoffee Beans Burn toward Extinction; You get the idea…

These stories cover the basic idea that coffee may be threatened by climate change, but they are also a bit confusing. What are the actual results of the study? How will the extinction of wild C. arabica affect the supply of quality coffee? How serious is the peril to our morning cup?

It is extremely important to remember that the result from one scientific paper, no matter how perfect the methodology and valid the results, does not equal a finite, absolute answer to a problem or a complete prediction of the future. It is dangerous for the popular press to sensationalize any individual scientific study as it is likely that study does not encompass the body of work on a subject. Also, some of the above headlines can lead to misperceptions about the results of the study. Scientific knowledge of any topic is an evolving and continually changing process, where small pieces of information are gathered over time and are used to build a body of work that helps us to understand a problem or phenomenon.

That being said, this article is open-access, which means that you can go to the journal web site and read or download the article for free. I encourage everyone who is interested in this topic (or the topic of specialty coffee) to do so. Currently, the article has been viewed more than 9,000 times, but only downloaded 7.41% of the time (per metrics on the PLOS ONE web site). Be empowered by knowledge and read the paper for yourself. Certainly, there may be many elements of the paper (for example, the methods section) that are not your cup of tea or as digestable as a mainstream media article. Try starting with the abstract and introduction, then moving to the results, and finally the discussion. This is an important paper highlighting one of the most critical problems facing the specialty coffee industry: loss of C. arabica genetic diversity.

For those of you who would like a bit of background on this topic, the scientific community, and now pretty much the entire world, have acknowledged that anthropogenic climate change is real and is already impacting living organisms. Since plants are rooted, they are stationary and unfortunately this gives them a slight disadvantage when climate change begins to make their living situations less than ideal. In the coffee industry we know that since coffee is a plant it will likely have some physiological or even species-level responses to changes in temperature, rainfall intensity and distribution, and other climate-related environmental changes. In specialty coffee, we have been talking about this for some time; how perhaps ideal coffee growing regions will get warmer, and how that may change the geographic distribution of those regions.

And that is exactly what this paper is showing. Their computer models mapped the range of wild C. arabica and compared that with future climate change scenarios predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) for the next century revealed that within the next 70 years wild C. arabicahas a high probability of going extinct. What does that mean for genetic diversity? We don’t know for sure how much unique and diverse genetic material currently exists within wild C. arabica in Ethiopia and surrounding regions. One Ethiopian PhD dissertation suggests that the genetic diversity in cultivated C. arabica only accounts for 10% of the diversity of wild Ethiopian populations (as reported on the WCR web site). However, it is likely even less than that, leaving us with much to learn from the wild genotypes. The danger is that we may never know, unless we begin to conserve these wild populations and do a thorough examination of their genetic diversity.

Why is genetic diversity important? Without writing a textbook about it, each organism’s capacity to grow, change, acclimate, and thrive, is dependent on their genetics. You can think of a genome as a sort of tool-box for organisms.  A population of organisms of the same species is made up of a group of individuals with slightly different genomes or tools at their disposal. The more diverse the population is the more differences are in the genome. This is important for long-term survival, as different individuals may have different strengths. For example, a few wild coffee plants may be very frost-tolerant due to a slight difference in their genetic codes caused by evolving in a colder than normal climate. This sub-set of the population may be the only ones to survive if exposed to a severe winter storm. Another group of wild coffee plants may produce more of a certain hormone and by chance ward off the coffee berry borer in a large outbreak. These are only two examples of what could be endless possibilities in the wild C. arabica population. The take home message here is that the more diversity that exists within a population, the more likely that population will survive exterior challenges such as climate change. Why would we (the specialty coffee industry) like to have as much C. arabica genetic diversity as possible? Because in future breeding programs this biodiversity may be used to create amazing tasting, heat tolerant, high yielding, pest and fungus resistant cultivars. But in order to access the tools we need to preserve the tool box.

What should we really know about this topic? Here are the bullets:

1)      The area of the world where coffee is indigenous has a rapidly changing climate and will change dramatically in the future due to anthropogenic climate change.

2)      Wild coffee still exists in this region that has not been conserved, catalogued, or researched for its genetic diversity and unique phenotypes, and is vulnerable to changes in climate.

3)      This study reported that the region may be inhospitable for wild C. arabica within the next 70 years, leading to the extinction of indigenous populations.

4)      Genetic diversity of C. arabica is extremely important to the specialty coffee industry, as it will be necessary to maintain an adequate tool box for breeding new coffees as part of an adaptive strategy for commercialized coffee.

5)      The climate changes predicted for this region of the world may also affect cultivated coffee in the future, which may result in a variety of other unforeseen consequences.

6)      Coffee is threatened by climate change, but we have time to act to preserve these wild genotypes. Institutions and organizations like World Coffee Research already are making progress on these important issues.

What can be done about this? What are the steps that the industry needs to take in order to preserve these wild C. arabica genotypes? The first critical step is to conserve and catalog all of the current wild materials available. There are many institutions worldwide that have small to medium sized plantations of wildC. arabica individuals from Ethiopia. These and the still indigenous coffee populations themselves need to be preserved via cryopreservation or live germplasm form in order for us to be able to access them after the climate is no longer hospitable. World Coffee Research currently has a biodiversity Projectin motion to begin just this task. After the genetics have been preserved, we can begin learning from them. Analyzing their diversity and examining their physical characteristics (their phenotypes) is when we will see the true potential of the wild genomics. After we understand them and their unique qualities we will be able to use them for breeding and adapting our own favorite cultivars for future environmental conditions.

In summary, it is too late to reverse the effect of anthropogenic climate change on Ethiopia, but it is not too late to support wild coffee genome preservation.


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