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Back from Rwanda.
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.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
Do microlots mater to producers?
Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu and Independent Evaluation Consultant Hannah Popish worked together on an enlightening study of how coffee farmers value microlots.
 
The information presented in "Do Microlots Matter to Producers" derives from a study conducted by Counter Culture Coffee and published in March 2012 titled, "The Social Impacts of Microlots: A Coffee Cooperative Case Study in Ihuamaca, Peru." The study aimed to measure the social impacts of microlot selection on members of the CENFROCAFE cooperative in five Peruvian communities where Counter Culture Coffee has purchased coffee over the last five years.
 
Read more about the microlots study and see the results in the Sustainability section of our website.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
Do microlots mater to producers?
The information presented in "Do Microlots Matter to Producers" derives from a study conducted by Counter Culture Coffee and published in March 2012 titled, "The Social Impacts of Microlots: A Coffee Cooperative Case Study in Ihuamaca, Peru." The study aimed to measure the social impacts of microlot selection on members of the CENFROCAFE cooperative in five Peruvian communities where Counter Culture Coffee has purchased coffee over the last five years.
 
The hypothesis prior to the study was that microlot coffee production may have both positive and negative impacts on communities, with positive impacts including recognition for effort and a return on investment in quality and negative impacts including feelings of envy and competition among fellow community members. The study design aimed to clarify the elements of microlot coffee production that contribute to its success and the areas that need improvement. Data was collected through 13 semi-structured, open-ended, qualitative interviews with microlot-producing and non-microlot-producing members of the cooperative, two interviews with CENFROCAFE staff members who work in these communities, and one facilitated community meeting.
 
We examined common themes and differences among members, as well as among members and Cenfrocafe representatives. Both microlot-producing members and non-microlot-producing members expressed support for the program and its continuation. Price incentives and pride emerged as the primary motivators for exerting extra effort, and members unanimously feel supportive of the microlot achievement of other community members. At the same time, all members expressed a desire to see the program evolve to address some commonly-cited areas for improvement, including the cupping and scoring system used by CENFROCAFE and Counter Culture Coffee and the on-farm infrastructure required for production of high-quality coffee. CENFROCAFE's staff demonstrated even more positive feelings overall, with a desire to create more, similar opportunities for growers in other communities of members as a top priority.
 
Limitations of the study include: small sample size, lack of diversity among sample, consideration for cultural congruency of the research design, and the survey instrument. Recommendations for enhancements of the partnership between CENFROCAFE and members as well as for CENFROCAFE and Counter Culture Coffee are addressed. Suggestions for future research are explored with an emphasis on a more participatory approach and an additional focus on economic impact of microlots.
 
 
Saludos,
Kim Elena
My first real introduction to Bufcafe was through Coffee Common at TED by Detour, a Canadian Roaster based in Ontario. I spent a week working alongside talented baristas cherry-picked from around the world. We enthusiastically and obsessively brewed coffee. We empathetically served our guests at a dizzying speed, exposing them to a number of different coffees selected for taste and transparency with stories of growth and inspiration.
 
Now, Counter Culture's Bufcafe is herbaceous and bright with a lip-sticking sweetness. Pair this coffee with a pear tart, apricot glaze, and lavender ice cream? Well, then you have something almost too obscene for words … one might say memorable. But, the question always arises, what exactly makes a cup memorable? What makes a cup of coffee inspiring? It can be argued that it is the flavors in the cup itself, but I believe that flavors and tastes that we remember are ultimately things that we ourselves can internalize or perhaps personalize. Read the full story on facebook.
 
Allie Caran
Barista
Woodberry Kitchen
 
Note: Our supply of this coffee went much faster than expected, so, thoughtful Allie's reflections on Bufcafe serve as a fond farewell of sorts. Thanks!
POSTED IN: coffee knowledge
Over the years, we have had our eye on Ecuador, and last year we were finally able to establish a relationship with a group of small, organic coffee farmers based in the mountainous province of Loja.
By providing incentives to farmers for improving quality – along with information to help them do so – we can help growers sustain and improve the quality of their lives, the environment, and their coffee. An obvious incentive is to pay more for higher quality coffee. Which, of course, we do, though the process is anything but simple for producers and our home office alike.
 
Our coffee department identifies microlots – small lots of coffees selected to provide unique, exquisite taste experiences – by cupping many, many small lots which have been hand-separated and catalogued by our grower partners, and selecting the very best, often tiny lots. A microlot may come from one grower within a community or cooperative of small growers, or it may represent a small lot separated from a larger farm's lot.
 
Last week, we welcomed a special microlot from Palanda, Ecuador. The coffee was the produce of a single organic farmer, 75-year-old Luz del Carmen Alverca.
 
Over the years, we have had our eye on Ecuador, and last year we were finally able to establish a relationship with a group of small, organic coffee farmers based in the mountainous province of Loja. The name El Gavilán (the hawk) perfectly suits their coffee – independent and courageous – just as the small farmers of Loja province are independent, heroic, and dedicated to quality and organic agriculture. This was our first El Gavilán microlot, and we are excited to have the opportunity to get to know coffees from individual farmers in the region.
 
This exceptional Luz del Carmen Alverca Microlot wasn't around for long, but the premium paid for its incredible quality will, we hope, have long-term benefits among El Gavilán producers.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
POSTED IN: coffee knowledge
 
See the full set on Flickr for Tim's notes from his trip to Ethiopia in November 2011.
 
See the full set on Flickr for Tim's notes from his trip to Kenya in November 2011.

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