Back from the Road: Ecuador
This was Kim's second trip to Ecuador, and my first visit to the cooperative that brings us the coffee El Gavilán. After arriving in balmy, coastal Guayaquil on a Monday, we made the trek to the cool and mountainous Loja in the south. With Loja as our home base, we then visited producer communities in Quilanga and Palanda.
On this visit, we had the opportunity to spend time with two farmer cooperatives that our partner Fapecafes (the exporting cooperative) supports – Procafeq and Apecap. I also had the chance to travel for a second time with the incredibly knowledgeable Alejandro Cadena who works for our export partner Virmax. Together we visited farms, attended a cooperative meeting, spent some time in Fapecafes' main cupping lab, and spent a day cupping with Apecap's cuppers to calibrate on 37 coffees for an internal competition celebrating the co-ops farmers.
Last year, we offered El Gavilán for the first time, and were pleased with their high yields and high cup quality. This harvest year was a tough one for Fapecafes for multiple reasons. Coffee plants were particularly hard hit by the rust disease, or "roya," that became so prevalent in Colombia in years past. This upset led to reduced yields, impacted cup quality, and decreased prices – all challenging news for farmers.
However, after a week with their members we feel confident that, because of their level of organization and initiative, there will be more good years to come. In the photo included above, Elfredín's family in Palanda is preparing bags for coffee seedlings – an apt metaphor for our growing relationship with Fapecafes in Ecuador.
We hope you enjoy these photos and stories!
Coffee Buyer's Agent
Coffee Buyer's Agent
Back From the Road: Africa and Bolivia
Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill recently returned from a trip to Bolivia with the newest member of our Coffee Department, Hannah Popish, whom some of you may recognize from her work as an consultant on an enlightening study of how coffee farmers value microlots earlier this year.
In Bolivia, Tim and Hannah met with a company called Agritrade and Virmax, our exporting partners from Colombia, to taste coffees and work out the logistics of organizing improved quality Bolivian coffee with more prompt shipment. And, of course, they visited some farms, as well. Read Tim's report and peruse photos curated by Hannah in this flickr set from their trip to Bolivia.
Prior to Bolivia, Tim traveled to Rwanda and Burundi, and made his first, very brief visit to the Congo. Check out our Coffee Department trip reports for each of Tim's photosets from his trip to Africa in June with full annotation. And, stay tuned ... Tim head's to Papua New Guinea in just a few weeks.