Several dozen of the most influential and quality-obsessed people in the coffee industry are gathered this week in College Station, Texas, for the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative (GCQRI) Symposium — the first step in launching a massive, five-year collaborative research project involving industry, bilateral donor agencies and research institutes and designed to increase the availability of high-quality coffee. Here are some links to very good real-time coverage of the event from people who are participating.
A few weeks ago I posted some photos of “coffee coins” — private currency that used to circulate on the coffee estates here in Guatemala before the system was abolished in 1925. Today, two examples of paper coffee currency.
I recently shared the perspectives of a pair of Q-grader cuppers on where quality comes from — perspectives that left out most of what coffee farmers do. Their perspectives are informed, but are not the only ones on an issue around which there is no real consensus. Today, a different take on the issue that attributes more of the quality of your coffee to how farmers grow it.
Last week, I reflected on a conversation with a coffee buyer who told me flatly: “The quality approach has been tried. It failed.” The next day I met with a plucky exporter that has had success attracting farmers to a very different vision: “Quality of coffee means quality of life.”
Last week, in a span of less than 24 hours, I met with two coffee industry leaders with diametrically opposed opinions on the issue of coffee quality and its impact on smallholder livelihoods. In the first conversation, a coffee buyer told me unambiguously: “The quality approach has been tried. It failed.”
A Q-grader cupper recently offered me his perspective on where quality comes from. Later that day, I had dinner with another Q-grader cupper and asked her the same question. Their answers were identical, but neither included ANYTHING that happens between the selection of the varietal and harvest – the space in which where farmers spend most of their time and energy.
A few weeks after I published a post on Nariño’s domination of the 2010 Colombia Cup of Excellence, the coffee website Sprudge ran an excellent, in-depth piece on the controversy around the varietal of the lot that won the COE.
An important part of our approach to agro-enterprise involves making the chain that links farmers to markets more transparent. The idea is that the more farmers understand the market end of the chain — consumer preferences, market trends, quality standards, product presentation, etc. — the more effectively they can meet the demands of the market. […]