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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

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

For those in Johannesburg there will also be a talk on the evening of the 27th October. You can email 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.
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 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.




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.


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.


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 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

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

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.

Finca El Prado – Microlot Producer ( Gigante, Huila, Colombia)

Date of Visit: 29 Apr 2016
Farmer (Caficultor): Jaimie Casallas

While for some people meeting a great artist, a rock star or actress is a dream, for us who love coffee this is how excited we were to meet Jaimie Casallas. The coffee we had from him was very good. In our coffee world meeting the people that produce coffee of this quality is rare, very rare.
The Casallas Family
When we got there he greeted us his Caravela shirt and the traditional Jugo and aqua. In this case we were offered coffee straight up.

Once we were settled in I started asking questions.

So the first question we had to ask was why he was keen to do microlot coffee.

He told us that initially he grew other produce, tomatoes, onion, yuca, plantain and such. When he started to sell at the market people fought over his produce. So he though he has good land and perhaps he should start with coffee.

Initially the coffee was sold to the cooperatives, not Caravela but he believed he had good coffee. The cooperative had a monopoly, and did not reward quality. They did not seem to care that he has taking care in producing good coffee. Then his neighbour told him about Caravela and the premiums they paid. He did not qualify originally but then worked closely with Alejandro from Caravel (he is like THE coffee person at Caravela, we met him later in the week and I can say he is very knowledgeable) then Alahando and Caravela educated him and then he learnt about coffee. Growing, producing and drying coffee. Then slowly his quality improved with a lot of experimenting and had to teach how to pick. Pickers were frustrated with his demands.

So he started concentrating on quality picking and proper processing and drying and within 1 year he was producing microlots standard coffee. And so he produced AA, AAA and microlot coffee And this meant he we rewarded better  Especially for microlots (the farmer gets all the premium we pay Caravela).The extra money he got through Caravela helped provide stability for his family. His son then moved back to the farm.

He is very proud that they produced a microlot after a lot of experimenting and work. Last year they had 9 microlots.

The process they currently use is:
  • They first visually inspect the pickings, educate the pickers if required.
  • Then they use floating tanks if it is required after visual inspection.
  • Then they lay the coffee for 12 hours on cherry.
  • They then de-pulp and fermentation ferment for 24 hours
  • The then pre-dry 3 days (in shade).
  • Then dry.

The next thing will be playing with warehousing and selecting parchment. They are building a warehouse that will be separate from the house. The also need more drying space.

The son works with dad and they want to make the farm bigger, but want to keep the quality and want to enjoy the farm and life.

He told us that labour is hard to find. He has his pickers but they are not always reliable so sometimes he has to use seasonable workers, which means training them. Currently has five or 6 pickers as they pick every day. Picker are paid relatively well $8000 peso (other farmers $5000 peso) per 12.5 kgs. Typically it takes around 1 hr of quality picking to picked 12.5kgs of coffee (the standard coffee picking basket see). This relates to  a little less than 1kg green coffee. When I gave these numbers to Alejandro he calculated that it means about 80c USD per kilogram, I calculated it was closer to U$D 1.2 per kilogram, but I will go with Alejandro numbers.

We saw Geisha on the farm he has he planted to try it, there are 5 hectares Geisha. It is two years old. This year this will be his first crop.

We had some lunch and coffee afterwards, the local Caravela  QC offices, offer a service to the farmers to roast coffee for them. It is normally a blend of coffees of the region. He loves trying coffees as he lives coffee.
  Lunch At El Prado

Quality focus improved his life will not sell his farm.

Caravela told me that only 12 out of 110 farmers that they buy from in the region have done microlot.

Wonderful to visit the farm and meet the mind and family behind the coffee. Panaview from the Beneficio

Finca Pedreros – La Piramide Contributor 3 (Cauca, Colombia)

Date visited: 28 Apr 2016
Farmer (Caficultor):  Horta and Lucilia Medina
On his farm he has been experimenting with different fermentation times. We saw the raised beds drying the Caturra which were being used as an experiment of a fermentation time of only 18hrs. It was collected from 1950 masl.

The pickers pick coffee during the day and then leave the cherries in the bin until de-pulping. Typically this is done at 12:00 and 18:00

Cherries in bin been there since 12:00 now 16:25.
While we were there Caravela explained the advantages of using a floating tank. Thank de-pulper is under the tank but the valve is closed. The fill the tank with water which then results in the unripe, overripe and damaged beans floating. These are then skimmed off the top to be processed as a C Grade coffee so that it does not affect the good coffees that are ripe and ready and sink.

After de-pulping the de-pulped beans are washed.

His wife has her own farm, that is part of the La Piramide taste profile blend and has RFA certification. Her farm has 2000 caturra trees, 1000 bourbon and 2000 heritage yellow bourbon trees and 2 hectares is Rain-forest. They process all coffee at Pedreros. They have achieved one star in the Caravela program and are very proud to have:

Met son and son in law. He has moved back to the farm after trying the the army (there is a lot of army every where in Colombia) and has decided there is more potential as a farmer in a market recognizing quality.

We asked him what does he think about people drinking coffee far from the home it is picked and processed?

He said he loves that the coffee is convincing people to visit his farm and he appreciates that people come to the farm and give feed back. He wants to work harder to improve the coffee.

He has realized that trying to improve quality each year to get rewarded for caring it exited him to see the increased interest from the rest of the world and this translates to the him and his pocket.They have found that the higher coffee grows, especially Caturra,  the higher the cupping score. Also to improve cup quality they are planning to plant trees to have shade grown coffee.

Also grow plantain (a very popular long relative to the banana, that they eat at every meal) , corn and sugar cane.

The inherited their farms, and hope to keep it in the family.

We asked them what their typically work day is? The told us they wake up at 5am then have some coffee then go and check the farm. Wife wakes up early and goes to be late, she makes the coffee and gets everything ready in the morning and at night.

I asked about their children. They have six sons and want the children to study but not to loose their roots. They are 4th generation coffee people.

Great people and once again very hospitable.

Finca La Cumbre – La Piramide contributor (Cauca, Colombia)

Date visited: 28 Apr 2016
Farmer (Caficultor):   Nilson Ucue ColombiaTrip 28 May2016 Finca La Cumbre (2) He has been working with Caravela for 2 years. His quality has been improving and so is his financial reward, since the beter the quality the higher the premium. He has just completed his new covered raised beds, has three levels bottom for pre-drying top for end drying rack is very well aired He has a semi auto de-pulper.

 He only has Caturra, his  farm is a total of 3 hectres. Although El Niño did affect the quality he did a lot of prep work on the coffee, pruning fertilizer (you need rain to fertilize when it has rained he could). It has hurt him his first 135 kgs picked 100kgs of it did not make the Caravela grade and had to be sold a C grade. He has been finding it hard to find quality pickers since it is hard work to pick only ripe. Easier to work on gold mines.

He has hires 15 during peak season. He ensures that they pick in lots. We tasted red Caturra tasted likely papaya. Tasted yellow Caturra tasted like sweet orange. He also grows corn and sugars to supplement his income. We had some coffee that his wife roasts their coffee at home in a clay pot takes around 40 mins roast and the Nilson grinds it in the old grinder. It was very nice, and it is wonderful to see people this passionate about coffee.

Farm soil is very rich and strong colour looks healthy the top part of farm is at an altitude 1940m and that produces the best coffee. Once again such friendly and happy people was a privilege to meet them. Although El Niño did affect the quality he did a lot of prep work on the coffee, pruning fertilizer.

Summary of Caravela QC process we witnessed 29/30 Apr

While traveling with Caravela we were fortunate to get an insiders view into the Quality Control assessment they do, for coffees to be selected by them. What follow  is what we witnessed at Gigante, near the home of Edilfonso Yara and Jaimie Casallas. We then did the process ourselves in Pitalito near San Augstin. Farmers bring the bags of parchment it is weighed. Then they take a sample, that silver lance Salome is holding is how they get the sample from the bag. They use a cross section sample.

They then de-partch 300g to calc yield.

  1.  First they measure:
  2. Then they remove parchment.
  3. They then calculate the weight loss from parchment.
    The result of the loss must be less than 20%, otherwise it fails the quality control.
  4. Then they screen sort. Either with a manual sorter or an automatic one. Seperated into screen 15+; Screen 13/14 and reflects which are sorted into group 1, (if only one bean of that group is in a coffee it will affect the cup), and group 2 ( 10 beans will affect the cup. 
  5. Then they manually remove damaged coffee from broca etc. They then weight each component after separating And calc percentage reject if above maximum broca 1.5%, AA as AAA 1% etc The do moisture test, it must be must be 11%.  
  6. Then they test water activity should be about 0.6 which tests the internal humidity. 
  7. Then they roast and cup in the afternoon. Then score and reject or accept. And the form is saved and feedback is given to the farmer / producer. img_0760-1The one above had no cupping score since it was rejected before roasting.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Day 1 (Pedregal) Colombia & La Piramide farmer Jesus Angel

After leaving Bogota without seeing a single sight (we got through customs and o our hotel by 22:00 after a day of traveling) then left for the airport at 04:30, we arrived at Neiva, and Javier collected us and off we went past magnificent Colombia vistas to La Plata.
Frog Quaffer above poking at the La Piramide mountains. We stopped at Caravela's la Plata warehouse and QC and were introduced to the team there. Wilmer and Fabián
The area is actually Pedregal we call (actually Caravela do) the coffee from the region La Piramide a collection of a particular taste profile from around 30 farmers. La Piramide is in Cauca but it is on the border of Huila. In fact to get to most of Cauca you need to go around the mountains, you cannot get there from here. Then off we went to the first from on their list of farms that contribute to La Piramide, which is a total of 20 farmers. The farm was short hike from the main road. Fabiana and Javier hiking up to the farm[/caption] Jesus Angel, whose farm is Finca La Albania, was an extremely welcoming man. After the customary sit down and greet (this is the standard, or at least was at most of the Fincas we visited)  we had some Jugo and then we saw his farm. This farm is 2 hectares and he grows Caturra and Colombia F6. He also has another farm that he grows Caturra, F6 and Castillo (more on this later, but Caravela do not accept any coffee of this variety).

The other farms is 2 hours away and he brings coffee after de-pulp to this farm. He is enjoying working with Caravela, it has changed his life earring the extra money.

This farm is called La Albania. His Moms' name is Alba, his other farm is El Danubio. One of his coffees got an 86 at the local QC. He typically hires 5 pickers for 2 hector. Has issues getting pickers (I think this will be covered in the general post about Colombia to come later).

Caturra above. The tress where pruned 4 years ago the trees are 10 yrs old.

The Caravela team looked around the farm and made some suggestions about natural compost and replacing his berry feeding tank with a plastic one then he can do a floating tank and remove unrepentant, damaged or bad coffees. (Fernando is the one bending down)

We then were invited for lunch, and had a traditional soup and meal of chicken with rice:

After the lunch we said goodbye and headed to the next farmer that forms part of the La Piramide offering.

Below a pic of the Angel's house, Jesus and his wife and the de-pulping station behind.


Rust, broca and fumagina – 3 coffee damages

During our travels in Colombia we saw visually how coffee can get damaged by pests and fungus. So though we would document the ones we saw. During the past dry season, that was quite bad because of the El Niño there was more of this.

Broca / Borra

This is a common and very damaging pest, we saw one (see pic) and also saw the damage it can do. the little beetle love caffeine so it bores into the cheery and eats the inside of the seed. If you pic this coffee and open it the beabs are there but have nothing inside.

Roja / coffe rust

This is very dominant and the reason many varieties are made. This fungus forms on the back of the leaf and weekens the plant cause low yield and affect this and the next crop.

Ant fungus / Fumagina

This can be devastating on the crop. The any promote the fungus, even feed it since it feeds them, it is a parasite and it prevents the cherries forming properly.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Quaffee Newsletter Vol 5 Issue 3 May 2016

For those that followed us on our trip to Colombia and Brazil, we hope you enjoyed the photos and posts if you were able to get them. This is a short newsletter about our event as well as the Limited Reserve offering of coffees about to happen.

Observations from Our Origin trip

 We will be running an event where we show pics from our trip, taste some coffees from the areas we went to and give you some first hand perspective from Brazil and Colombia. We hope we can cram all of this into an hour and will be running the event on June 2 at night, starting at 18:30. The event will cost R200 and will include all the coffees, some very light snacks and a take away box of a Microlot of one of the farms we visited on the trip.

To book there are a number of options: you can email us at; go to the facebook event here and it will be available on Cape Coffee Bean’s website soon too.

Limited Reserve Edition Coffees

 From next week we will be offering three limited reserve coffees.
  1. Hacienda Esmeralda Reserve Geisha
  2. Ninety Plus Level 7 Kemgin
  3. Ninety Plus Level 12 Nekisse
The coffees are very limited, there will be only 2kgs of roasted coffee of the Esmeralda and the Ninety plus coffees will be about 30kgs each. We will only be roasting these coffees when there are enough orders, and we will be offering them exclusively to those people on this mailing list that have ticked the option “Notify me of limited edition coffees”.

We plan to offer the Esmeralda first, followed by the Kemgin and then the Nekisse and will repeat the Kemgin and Nekisse on a fortnight basis. These coffees are only available in 200g special reserve tins (see pics) and will sell for between R310 (for the Esmeralda) and R400 (the Nekisse) per tin. We are the very first South African Roaster to offer the Ninety plus coffees and hope to offer them again if they sell. These coffees are some of the best coffees available on the planet and we really are excited to offer them. So if you are keen, make sure you set your options so that you can receive the offer (although we will also add the offer on our various social media feeds).

New Coffees and coffee news

 Let’s start with the good news first. We have some amazing Burundi coffees from the Long Mile Project. We were able to secure a natural processed Gishubi and a honey processed Nkonye. The Gishubi will only be available at Quaffee AT Buitenverwachting and the Nkonye will only be available at Quaffee AT the Vineyard. These coffees are the best Burundi's we have ever tasted and we are hoping to secure more. We tasted them in December last year but they have only just reached us. We are hoping that we can get a new crop quicker this time.

The disappointing news is about our Colombians, especially Los Naranjos and Los Idolos. We are running very low on these and we have not had a status update for 2 weeks on the shipment that was ordered in March. We suspect that the coffees will only get here in June. We are trying to prevent this delay in future and Caravela (our supplier in Colombia) is trying to make a plan but since we can only order enough coffee (due to the large outlays of cash) we have to live with this issue. We have sourced a good enough coffee from Huila so we are hoping the Relationship Blend will last until then.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Impressions of Pântona - April 26

Our escort for the farm that we once sourced natural Yellow Borbon from and recently pulp natural UVA was Marcus. He is the general manager on the farm. The farm is owned by Ferroro he has 2 other farms.

They have 20,000 square meters of raised beds on the farm, and are planning to put more since they are trying to use their two drying patios, one sized 1800 m2 and 1500 m2, less.

They use the automatic pickers that take everything from everything from green to ripe. But first they pick the top half which ripens first. Then they waiting till top is ready again then pick the bottom, and repeat. Since the top gets more sun it ripens quicker. The automatic packers can be set to different vibration levels and this then prevents very green coffee from being picked.

They have been introducing a process to clean and process coffee that fall to the ground this is to be release to the local market.

The separation of the various ripe levels is done after picking. Where floaters ripe and unripe are separated.

They have experimented with different fermentation times per harvest and the coffee are they dried on raised beds. At the moment fermentation is done for around 36 hrs or until the pH is 4. This is particular to their experiments.

The water from the washing process is placed in 60 million liter reserve where organize are separated and the tress are watered with the water.

100 hectares currently irrigated plan to do whole farm irrigation is under ground.

We then started to look at some of the varieties on the farm. The biggest way for Brazilian coffees to differentiate each other is on variety, so farms have many. Pântana have 200 varieties and work with the Brazilian Coffee Research organization with these, we saw a few growing and also in the managers offices:

We walking through the farm where I picked and a tasted Ibairi, little like a mildly sweet cherry. Very round (see below).

Second variety it tried was UVA, we have sold this coffee and while it sold well I felt it was missing the body of a natural, it was a pulp natural that we got so that may have been why. You can we the difference below (Ibairi vs UVA):

While we were waking around the told me that if it rains during harvest it damages the coffee so that all aspects diminish.

We walked past a Yellow Tupi that was tall and narrow, Sandra from Expocaccer stood next to the one to give us an idea how big it was.

Oldest tree is small for Age of 25 years.variety is Acacia.

We walked back to the office when we spoke to the man involved in the control of Fungus and bugs. Everyday the walk the farm and they track the infestation levels of pests using GPS. He captures position and pests and fungus found. They track the most frequent. Like rust, nunchaku ariliaria. Pest and bugs too. That plant lave catepilar broca. Spiders that create a fungus. Each red is a point they found something green nothing. This is all consolidated on a website, so they know exactly what to treat where.


These are the sort of practices that they do with fungus and bug, and do the same with chemical compounds in the soil that they also treat very localize. the also log all wildlife they see as part of the RF alliance. This is part of the reason why they have one many sustainability and quality awards. Pantâno won best natural of Minas Gerais last two years.

Chatted after naturals are dried for 5 days. The dried on the beds until the moisture level drops from over 40% to 18% then they are dried in the dryers until 11%

If it rains during the patio dry or raise patio it is a night mare. Lots are marked and mainly sold for local consumption. Rained coffee is treated with limestone. If done correctly it can be saved. When on the raised beds coffee is continually tossed to prevent fermentation.

We then went for a look at the Yellow Bourbon and the UVA which was very abundant.

They have over 200 varieties on the farm. Some are just codes that they just run blind tests on. I think we saw around 8 today.

Long line is yellow partial naturally yellow Tapazi cross Yellow Bourbon and Cataui.

After final raised or patio drying the dry at 35 degrees to make sure that on and naturals are 11 % humidity in driers

We ended with lunch. We had Feijao with farofa on top and meat on the side, tradition lunch.

Great to visit a farm that we have bought 2 varieties from and see the effort they put in to make sure each crop has a good percentage of quality lots.