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Monday, 12 December 2016

Ethiopian Wet Processing Coffee: From coffee cherry to parchment.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Quaffee Newsletter V5I7 November 2016

We would like to take some time to thank you for your support. For us at Quaffee, it has enabled us to continually push the boundaries of what kind of coffee is on offer in South Africa. Thank you for subscribing and taking your time to read our wordy newsletter, and tell you friends about us. This month we reflect back on the year and look forward to what is still to come before we see the end of 2016. We have had a number of firsts this year, do you remember them all? Frog Q Inspecting Coffee

Looking Back

This year our conviction of only using traceable, quality coffee that reward producers as directly as possible, has been pushed to the limits. On the exceptional side, we have sourced some amazing coffees that the specialty coffee world has identified as rather special:
  • First time we offered a limited amount of the famous Hacienda Esmeralda Geisha.
  • For the first time ever we secured 2 Ninety Plus coffees. A washed Kemgin Level 7 and a natural Nekisse Level 12 – the latter of which is one of the most remarkable coffees we have ever offered. These coffees have not sold very well, showing us that we need to be very careful in securing coffees of this quality. But if you are looking to spoil yourself or someone you love, then we would recommend you order them before they are gone.
  • We have also secured the third place Burundi Cup of Excellence (CoE) winner from Ben at Long Miles Coffee Project, even having to assist in organising the over land tucking of this coffee as well as the other offerings from Long Miles.
Although we have almost totally removed non-specialty grade coffees from our offering, economic pressures have coerced us to still offer some coffee in the value for money section of our available coffees through our Armonizar blend and Sidamo. These coffees may not be fully traceable but they do provide coffee with a basic ethical minimum. The rand and coffee price have not helped this year. We set our pricing structure up in March and sometimes it has been a challenge to secure coffees on time and within budget. We have had a number of transport issues this year, with coffees being delayed from almost every origin. However at the moment we have secured quite a bit of stock so we hope to continue to offer specialty grade coffees at prices that are world beating. Ben and Kirsty Carlson

Long Miles Coffee Project talk

Of course being involved with bringing Ben and Kristy from Long Mile Project in Burundi to talk was a unique experience. We believe that this is the first time a coffee producer has been to South Africa to talk publicly about their experiences. The talks were video-ed and are available on our YouTube Channel http://youtube.com/Quaffee.

New Coffees

There are a number of new coffees that have arrived and we will release them as space becomes available on the green and roasted shelves in the roastery. We have also been extending our offering through roasting some coffees at the Vineyard Hotel Roastery that we do not roast at Buitenverwachting. Please subscribe to our twitter or facebook feed for these announcements as releasing a newsletter for each coffee tends to feel like SPAM, which we do not want to perpetuate. Of the coffees that have landed, we have released  an old favourite from Palestina in Colombia (read more here: Quebrandón Info). We also have a new El Savador: Montecristo.

Ethiopia Trip

At the end of November and early December, Frog Quaffer is visiting Ethiopia. The visit only includes the Southern Coffee areas and Addis. The Western area is considered dangerous and so had to be stripped from our plans. This is a pity since it is believed that this is the original area where coffee was first consumed. It is also the area of the most genetically diverse Arabica in the world.

New Website and December

Our new website is close to being finished and we will be taking it live over the December break. Our last delivery of the year will be 22 December and our first will be on the 3rd of January. We will be running the roastery at Buiten for half days on 28, 29 and 30 December.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Newsletter V5I6 Oct 2016 - LMP and coffees

Probably the biggest news is that we have been able to work with the Vineyard hotel in bringing Ben and Kristy Carlson from the Long Miles Project out to South Africa.

Most of the other news we have is around a few changes to the coffee line up.



Long Miles Project Talk

From way back in 2013 when we offered coffee from the Long Mile Project, we have loved what they stand for and do. Over the last year we have offered three coffees from this project (including one of their Cup of Excellence winning coffees) and so we are excited about Ben and Kristy coming to South Africa.

Ben will be giving a talk on the 25th and 26th October at the Vineyard Hotel, Newlands, Cape Town. There will be two talks: one on coffee quality, and one on the future of coffee. We are fortunate to have the Vineyard Hotel fully sponsoring this event, so there will be no cost for this first time coffee event, but space will be limited. To book and read more go to http://www.vineyard.co.za/coffee-appreciation-talk-with-ben-carlson/.

For those in Johannesburg there will also be a talk on the evening of the 27th October. You can email prestonh@live.co.za for venue and booking information.

Depending on the response to this talk, we will decide if doing others is worthwhile.

Coffee Offerings

For those that check our coffee list regularly, you would have noticed a few changes. We were not able to secure more of the Limu Konjo, but are now offering the Limu Kaffa. The Kaffa forest is where it is believed man first consumed coffee, all be it as a cherry initially. This coffee is organically certified and has a deeper body than the Konjo, which was a little fruitier. We will probably only have enough of this coffee to get us into 2017.

The Long Miles Project coffee that came third in the Cup of Excellence is now available, and we have made the price as affordable as we can so you can taste this example of a great coffee. We will be offering this coffee through the associated coffee shops at Buitenverwachting (the Coffee Bloc) and the Vineyard hotel (the Long Café) during the week that Ben and Kirsty are here, so you can taste it there too.

We have also started to offer the Ninety Plus coffees without their fancy packaging, so now you can order them online. We roast them every Tuesday if there are orders.

A few coffees are also on their way, and a few have just arrived. We would recommend you check the list on our website when you can as we continue to update it as our offering of coffees changes.

Cupping of LMP

We will be cupping the 2016/2017 crop of some of the Long Miles Project’s coffees this Friday 14 Oct at Buitenverwachting around 10am, pop in if you want to join.

Travelling to Ethiopia

At the end of November – first week December Frog Quaffer and Warren will be travelling to Ethiopia, specifically the Southern part of the country to visit Sidama and Yirga Cheffee. We are hoping to make it to the Kaffa region, but there is unrest there at the moment, so this may affect our plans. While the country has some connectivity challenges, we will post pics and updates when we can.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Limited Reserve and Limited Edition Offerings Sept 2016

As a first we are offering three roast dates this month for three remarkable coffees. We will be roasting the coffees on the dates below and shipping from the next day. If you order the coffees now we will add you into the system, and deliver to you the next scheduled delivery day after the roast date for your area.

Coffee: Nekisse

Date to be roasted: 
30 Aug 2016

From: Ninety Plus

Origin: Sidama Ethiopia
Type: Natural

Description: A truly remarkable coffee, it was used by 8 competitors at worlds this year. Read more here...

Note: This is the first release ever in South Africa. We will also do a run for Cape Coffee Beans. Available in 200g tins.
Coffee: Kemgin

Date to be roasted: 
13 Sep 2016

 From: Ninety Plus

Origin: Yirgacheffee Ethiopia Type: Washed

Description: Sets a high bar on what a washed coffee can taste like, delicious in all brew types. Read more here...

Note: This is the second time we have offered this coffee, feedback was very positive. Available in 200g tins.
Coffee: Heza COE

Date to be roasted: 
20 Sep 2016

From: Long Mile Project

Origin: Kayanza, Burundi
Type: Washed

Description: This is LMP's first CoE winning coffee from the same washing station as the Gishubi and Nkonge come from.

Note: We have yet to roasted the coffee. We will post notes once we have identified the roast we plan to use. Available in 250g and above.
Order Here... Order Here... Order Here...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

In response to a forum Question on FairTrade

Linked in has its uses, not sure what they are but we have many connections so it must be doing something. One thing it does do is allow people to post questions they post on their websites to groups that are not really supposed to respond, since these questions are actually rhetorical.
One of these posts asked about weather Fair Trade is fair. So we took a break from our covering our highly educating and informative tour and to reply. I am not sure it will be published so I thought why not publish it here, read more below:
The question of FairTrade needs to be specific to an industry, and specific to the implementation of FairTrade. There are two major players in the FairTrade industry (yes let’s call it that) – FairTrade Label Organizaton (FLO) and FairTrade America. In South Africa only FLO is represented, so I will only cover this using my own personal experience and observations as best I can.
In an industry like coffee this question gets further complicated as to how a FairTrade reward/levy gets into the real hand of the producer / grower? Almost all coffee (even Brazilian) is sold via to an export agent from an association or cooperative. These cooperatives can be government run or farmer run. NOTE: Many countries prefer not to use the word co-operative since this implies that it is government run.
In coffee, the FLO only work with cooperatives (or associations), not farmers directly, so how does the farmer get the reward if the cooperative or association get the money from FLO for being compliant. Well in two ways either as a percentage extra payment over the coffee, or if the old method is still used a minimum price (although in a coffee world this has proved to be ineffective since the coffee price is the second most volatile futures market, behind oil). So normally it is a percentage amount over the normal price. In the cooperatives and association I have seen this percentage is not large ranging from .5% to 1.25% extra. To put that in perspective if the farmer delivers a coffee that cups (scores when tasted) at 83 or higher they get about a 5% increase in payment. So quality gets a higher premium than FairTrade.
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In a well-run cooperative or association each coffee the farmers bring is normally traced so that they can get a reward. This is not always the case however since most cooperatives are government run the certification sits with them and not the farmer so they collect the levy, this is true from at least 50% of the cases, however that is a conservative estimate.
So let’s assume best case is that the farmer gets 1% for being Fairtrade certified. However the farmer needs to pay for the certification (which is a fix price) and hence needs to have a certain size crop in order to cover his costs of being FairTrade certified. This means if the farmer has a bad crop (like is the case currently in El Salvador and Nicaragua) the farmer has to rather give up the cost certification to feed his family, since their crops are 30% what they were last year.
Oh and one more thing. The FairTrade organization is a non-profit organization. What does that mean? Well it means a minimum of 21% of the money they collect must go back to the cause. What does that mean in money terms? Well let’s look a salaries; according to http://www.payscale.com/ the average salary for a CEO running an NGO is R517,732.00 per year (see link here...). At least 10 times what the average farmer producing coffee gets per year. Even if you assume the good people at FLO South Africa earn minimum salaries than the CEO of the NGO is earning R206,084 which is about 4 times what a farmers earns.
So is FairTrade fair? Well it depends what you call fair. If you are mean is it fair to famers that own land in excess of 100 hectares (like in Brazil and Vietnam) then it is fair. Otherwise buy on quality, is your coffee roaster buying from people that reward the grower on quality? Are they paying for quality? If they are then reward the roaster, who rewards the chain of people that reward the farmer on quality. And that is what direct trade is supposed to be. There are people in the chain and if a roaster tells you there are not ask them to explain.
But what if I favour a Burundian/ Rwandan Single Origin?
Africa is a complicated example (as is Central America, and most Asian producing countries). Most African farmers have very small holdings. They also do not process their own coffees. This means that the coffees are delivered to a processing plant that may or may not be Fair Trade certified. The processing plant is normally owned by a cooperative, the cooperative owns the certification not the farmer, so the cooperative gets the Levy, not the farmer.
In theory this means that they should reward the farmers, however this brings us back to the first post. Do they and if so what is the levy. If we assume they do and they give the farmers 1% more, is that making a difference?
With the drive to quality two things have happened that we have seen. Either farmers form their own associations or cooperative that they all have shares in that allows them to control quality and certifications themselves. So in Rwanda 800 female farmers formed an association called The African Sisters where all the farmers work together in picking and processing each other’s coffee. Then the association gets levies for certifications that it invests in the association’s infrastructure, however each farmer is still rewarded on quality as the major way of earning more. They do share this since that is a the founding methodology of the association. But this is an exception in Rwanda.
Another example is in Burundi where Ben and his wife started the Long Mile Project (LMP). Over the years we have worked with them, and their South African Import agent, and this has been an interesting ride since the importing agent has changed a few times. Here the LMP are promoting quality by rewarding quality cherry, so they spend time educating farmers to get the cherry to them as quick as possible (within 24 hrs of picking before it spoils the coffee), and only pick ripe. They pay the famers 50c (USD) for basic grade and almost $5 for a coffee that cups above 87. They have decided not to be FairTrade but try and sell direct (through the aforementioned agents)
There is however a real life story of African coffees and FairTrade a unnamed local roaster that pushes FairTrade, has a contract with a farmers cooperative in Sidama (or Sidamo). Here once they received a quality product and are happy with it they pay a FLO certified levy direct to the farmers cooperative, who are then tasked to distribute it.
Essentially labels are just that labels. For large supermarket chains and international brands they are important, they force accountability at some level. However if you are buying any product from a micro producer that is driven by quality and is driven to reward quality produce then this is a far better way to go a conscious consumer.

Quaffee newsletter V5I5 August 2016

Since the last newsletter there has been quite a bit of news about our coffees that we have not updated you on yet. There is also an addition to the Jura model range, and we've been able to secure a working relationship with WMF.
Get yourself a quaffable cup of Quaffee and take a seat this newsletter is quite long, enjoy.

Coffees

Ethiopia2

Ethiopians

With the Ethiopian crop shipments being delayed because of issues in Djibouti (where most Ethiopian coffee is shipped from), we ran out of our specialty grade Yirgacheffee and are also running low on Limu.

Yirgacheffee

We sampled all the locally available Yirgacheffee’s and in the end made a call to fly in an emergency lot of Yirgacheffee to get us through. This Yirgacheffee we have had before just from 2015’s crop. It comes from Café Imports and their relationship with the washing station in the Addo region. We had to pay a premium on the coffee as well as having to pay extra to fly it in, so this coffee costs a bit more than normal. It is, however, a superb example of the coffees that are available near the town of Yirgacheffee.
We anticipate our new lot of Yirgacheffee will arrive late September. This will cost less due to the cost of the coffee, the cost of transport and the recovering rand. So we anticipate the pricing of Yirgacheffee to return to its old price or even less.

Limu

Also affected by the problems at Djibouti is Limu. At the moment we have two bags left of the 2015 crop. There is no town called Limu in Ethiopia, it is essentially a coffee term that means 'coffee from the Kaffa forest or West Oromia region'. While there is the bulk untraceable Limu available from the local importers, it is 2014 or 2015 crop and it has not been stored in grain pro bags so has aged a good deal. All we taste was a dominance of paper and cardboard in the coffee. We have however secured coffee from the Kaffa forests to get us through. This coffee is on the water already and should get us through to end October when we anticipate the 2016 crop of Limu Konjo to arrive.

New Coffees

We have three + 2 totally new coffees! One from Brazil, one from Costa Rica and one from Kenya. We will also be releasing the Nekisse limited Reserve and the new CoE from Heza Burundi. We are also making the coffees from the roastery at the Vineyard available for order (hence the + 2)
Paris de Minas, Patrocino & Coromandel Minas Gerais Brazil Apr 2016

Londrino, Brazil

During our recent trip to Brazil we met some great producers and also go introduced to Expocaccer who work with Falcon Specialty in identifying great specialty grade coffees. One of these was from Londrino. We selected the naturally processed Acaia from the lots we tasted and we hope you are going to love it as much as we do. We have tried to roast this coffee to expose the typical nut flavours in Brazilian coffees but have found some dry fruit flavours in the coffee too. Read more about Londrino here…

Zamorana, Costa Rica

Having not had a great Costa Rican coffee for a while we are excited to offer this coffee from the Zamora family. It has been sourced via Falcon Specialty almost as a trial to see how well it is accepted. You can read all about it about Zamorana here…

Ichuga Peaberry, Kenya

Although we have had this for almost 3 weeks now, we really like this coffee and we are trying to secure more. It is from one our favourite regions, Nyeri. more about the coffee about Ichuga here...

New limited reserve, Nekisse

Our first release of Nekisse from ninety plus will be roasted on the 30th of August. This coffee was used by more than half a dozen competitors at the WBC. It is a complex and fruity coffee and this is the first time it will be available in South Africa. To order email us at orders@quaffee.co.za. It is available in our limited reserve 200g tins. Read more Ninety Plus Nekisse here...

Cup of Excellence, Burundi

The 6th of September will be our first release of the Cup of Excellence winning coffee from The Long Mile Project’s Heza washing station. This is the first of their coffees that won the Cup of Excellence award and we will be roasting it every Tuesday from that date if there is enough demand. We have been very impressed with all the coffees from 2015/2016 season from the Long Mile Project, the coffees offer very good bang for their buck. We are busy trying to secure the new crop.

Coffees Roasted at the Vineyard

We are now also offering the coffees we roast exclusively at the vineyard for order. These coffees will be on the website and listed as roasted at the Vineyard hotel. At the moment we are offering the Honey processed coffee from the Long Mile Project, Nkonge (read more here…) and the El Salvador Santa Leticia (read more here…). Please note there may be a days delay in delivering these.
Remember all these coffees can be ordered online or by emailing orders.at.quaffee.co.za.

New Juras

Jura has release their “W” range of machines. The WE6 is a coffee only machine designed for offices and it has a sister in the WE8, which adds milk preparation based coffees.
Read more about the WE6 here… and the WE8 here…

WMF Coffee machines

WMF1500
We have started offering the commercial WMF range in partnership with the agents in South Africa. These are 100+ cups a day rated machines and are designed for commercial and office related deployment. If you travel to Europe, 1 in every 3 hotels has a WMF machine preparing coffees. With our agreement the agents themselves install and manage the machines. The two models that are automatic are the 1200 and 1500. They are available via rental and for outright purchase. Information is available on request here...

Monday, 27 June 2016

Finca La Esperanza – Microlot Producer (Gigante, Huila, Colombia)

Farmer: Edilfonso Yara
Date Visited: 29 Apr 2016

Finca La Eperanza is high in the mountains near Gigante, in Huila. The drive up there was an interesting experience and when it rained while we were on the farm we wondered how we would get down, but our driver Javier once again got us safely home. See  video of the road trip up here:


Once we got there, we actually had to walk up a narrow path for about 500m before we actually got to the farm that is almost 2000 masl.

Edilfonso was a passionate coffee farmer we were keen to meet him. We still have some of his microlot coffee left and we bought him some of his own coffee to taste (which we left there) - see it in his left hand while he greets from Quaffer in he Coffee collective shirt.
Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia


He inherited the farm from his Dad. His wife drew the map below, but he only really has map for reference, since he knows where every thing is planted:

Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia
All planning is in his head, he has Caturra, Typica and Columbia (which was the last variety he planted). He wants to plant more Caturra.

The farm is  a family affair. He works as a team with his wife who is a pillar. She is very fast picking and sorting. He and his wife do most of the picking and processing, with a little help from his one brother. He does also hire 3-4 other pickers when needed. He has another brother, that he and his brother bought out, and he wants to buy his other brother out as soon as he has paid off the other brother. He feels he and his wife and family (he has three girls) can cope with the farm of 4 hectors, which he believes is big enough. His children get rewarded for helping when they want, and he and his wife love them being involved.

Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia

The Caravela microlot project has helped him as an incentive to improve the farm and also his family. His goal is to always have microlot lots from his crop, and hope to achieve this by being very specific and accurate in his process and hopes will always produce good coffee.

When then went to take a look at his Beneficiario and the drying beds and he had a chat with Johanna who is the QC for Caravela in Gigante.
Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia


She told me that in blind cupping he normally recognizes his coffee, which is very impressive. He currently does 5 days pre-dry (shade drying, straight after washing), then 15-30 dry to dry thereafter, until he knows the moisture level is around 11%. I noticed his drying racks have plastic under the drying screens. They check the drying coffee for bora / broca and the bad coffees fall through to the plastics collection, which they then sell as pesa (over grade coffee,  or C Grade).

Interesting to note is that Edilfonso is on of the producers that are consistently producing high grade parchment and so for him and other producers like him Caravela actually provide grain pro bags to store the parchment in, and deliver to the QC. Caravela believes that these assists in retaining the quality coffee the coffee.


We then went to take a look at the de-pulper and the washing and fermentation tanks. They de-pulp and then ferment 24 to 36. He checks at 24 (like the pic) and may the add a few hours. He checks by removing a sample then washes it. If there is only parchment then removes the coffee for drying otherwise he extends the fermentation.


Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia
Pana view from the top of the Benefecio


Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, ColombiaFinca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, ColombiaFinca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia


Edilfonso used to be a picker before. He is now 38 and he has been working with Caravela for 6 years, the premiums he received from them sustain his life and farm and he is able to live there comfortably.

The wife has written two poems to coffee which you can listen to/watch the second one here or view the words to both below:



The poems are attach to the walls near the coffee:
Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia Finca La Esperanza, farmer Edilfonso Yara, Gigante, Huila, Colombia
When then went to take a look at the Caturra and Bourbon nursery.
Caturra and bourbon nursery at Finca la Esperanza
We went to the end of the rainbow and found microlot coffee.

Coffee on the farm La Esperanza

They roast their own coffee for consumption in an oven 15 mins. Below a pic of the roasting oven:
How Mrs Yara roasts her coffee
It started raining so we have another great cup of coffee and chatted some more about their lives. They go to town on Sunday's when they go to church, then they go to supermarket and buy ice cream for the girls. The Girls go from the farm to the road to go to school with transport that all the farmers pay for the school kids to take to school.
Edilfonso's middle daughter.
He got money to buy the farm by making the contract with Dad to buy farm and use produce to pay back. Three brothers bought it then one wanted to leave so they bought him out. There are only four hectares that the brother shares but may eventually also leave. Today per hectre a new farm would be around 20 million pesos in this area.

When he heard about Caravela they were not operating in Gigante yet. He drove through to La Plata to sell his coffee, since he heard he could be paid well. He took 4 tonnes but a lot was rejected. They then thought perhaps it was not a good idea to sell  to Virmax / now Caravela. Then they started to receive the premiums and decided to try again. Then with their help he was able to increase his quality, so he worked hard to do what they asked. Caravela pay base then extra for scoring more in the cup. He also found out that Virmax/Caravela pay much more than Nestle and give additional premiums.

Now coffee farmers are driven to make good quality coffee if they want to sell to Caravela. They then first try to sell to Caravela, by giving them a sample first. Only when rejected then do they try others.

The Government agents come to promote Castillo. The banks will not lend them money unless they have Castillo on the farm so they are forced to plant it. He has planted it and the results are poor so he is planning to remove it.

Other Plans: he wants to plant more Caturra and Bourbon. And also to separate these varieties into lots. At the moment they just concentrate on ripeness not varieties, so they combine varieties#FarmVist.

What a wonderful visit, and after many coffees and so courage we made our way down to the car and then down the mountain to Gigante.