Sunday, June 19, 2005

   from Peter G

Update from Kenya

As of today, Duane and I finished the classes we were teaching at the Kenya Coffee College, located at the Kenya Coffee Research Foundation in Ruiru. We taught two seminars, for two days each. The first was to coffee managers, mainly the management of the mills and marketing agents here, and the second was to farmers and co-op managers.

The classes were quite interesting. Our task was to explain the details of the specialty coffee market in the United States to a group who, formerly, had little knowledge of this market. Folks might be surprised at this, given Kenya's great reputation in the specialty coffee industry. The truth is, because the system here is highly specialized (farmers farm, millers mill, and dealers sell), farmers and millers have traditionally had little knowledge about what is going on in our market. For this reason, there are lots of misconceptions here about what roasters do, and what specialty consumers want. Most of the farmers here believed that bean size was the most important factor in the quality of their coffee!

The seminars were jam-packed with information. We talked about the size of the specialty market, the essentials of quality coffee production, the importance of lot separation and cupping, the relationship coffee model, the marketing of specialty coffee in the U.S., certification programs, the importance of recordkeeping, and the potential of appellation programs. And that was just the first day! The second day, we designed a series of projects, and broke down the class into groups to work on these projects. The projects were: design a system of lot separation, develop a "producer profile" for a co-op or estate, develop a "photographic profile" for a co-op or estate, and design a system of cupping at the producer level. All the groups really embraced the projects, and did a great job on them. The most exciting moment, for me, was when a bunch of coffee farmers gathered in the cupping lab for their first coffee tasting. Most had never tasted anything but instant coffee and coffee rejects (called bunni here). We tasted bunni, a past-crop lot, a current-crop medium quality lot, and an exceptional lot. Every farmer was able to perceive the difference, and even describe the flavors precisely! They became excited, laughing and bragging that they had cupped coffee successfully. This experience brought tears to my eyes.

Next week, we begin cupping training for a number of cuppers here in Kenya. Tasters here practice a form of cupping called "liquoring" which focuses only on the taste of the lukewarm beverage, rather than the whole process of cupping we are familiar with. The idea is to train these cuppers on the SCAA standard of cupping, and orient them to the kinds of qualities we are looking for in Kenya coffee. Duane and I have our hands full, trying to squeeze as much cupping training for 30 people as we can in 5 days. Wish us luck!

-Peter

6 Comments:

Anonymous adam d said...

What a heartening story, Peter. Power to the people!

6/19/2005 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger chris said...

So Cool!!!

6/19/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger bronwen said...

i wish i could be there -- it sounds like an amazing and rewarding experience. keep up the awesome work, peter. can you take me with you next time?

p.s. tell my fellow rogers ram, duane, 'hey'

6/20/2005 05:40:00 PM  
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