Partners

CCS Cup, Learn & Share - Recap

The first CCS Cup Learn & Share event of the year was last Thursday, Feb 16, and we were joined by roasters and baristas from Russia, Romania, Japan and Norway. With the help of special guests Rory Rosenberg and Lise Marie Rømo, the team presented two innovative projects by our partners at origin, Long Miles Coffee Project from Burundi and La Palma y El Tucán from Colombia.

These events are so much more than just a cupping. They include discussion, information and presentations, a chance to understand the context of the coffees and the people behind them. 

 Barista Rory Rosenberg presenting his experience in Burundi with Long Miles Coffee Project. 

Barista Rory Rosenberg presenting his experience in Burundi with Long Miles Coffee Project. 

Burundi coffee producers work largely on nano-lots, often with as few as 500 trees. Ben and Kristy Carlson recognised the potential of this country to produce specialty coffee, and the economic benefit it could bring to these farmers' lives. They moved their entire family to Bujumbura, Burundi to start the Long Miles Coffee Project, and built two beautiful washing stations that process cherries from over 3000 neighboring families. 

Rory Rosenberg of Oslo Cold Brew won the Norwegian Barista Championship in 2017 with coffee from Long Miles, and he visited their washing stations and farms to see first hand the work they are doing in Burundi. He talked about the innovative agricultural extension programme Long Miles have implemented, sending a team of Coffee Scouts out to farms to teach farmers best coffee cultivation practices, but most importantly, teaching them how to manually eradicate the dreaded antestia bug, the cause of potato defect. 

 Yusho, head roaster from Fuglen, Japan.

Yusho, head roaster from Fuglen, Japan.

Our second cupping was of La Palma y El Tucán from Colombia who have several projects that are changing the face of specialty coffee in Colombia. Barista Lise Marie Rømo of, our sister company Kaffa, spoke of her experience competing with the LPET coffee and visiting their farm in Cundinamarca, Colombia. She described the company's team of trained coffee pickers they send to neighboring farms during the coffee harvest. The women pickers paint their nails a specific red so they can easily identify the ripest cherries on the tree.  Sixty trucks transport the picked cherries to the La Palma y El Tucán farm where they are processed using innovative methods including Acetic, Natural and Lactic. Also on the table were the LPET Heroes Series, special varieties including Sidra and Gesha that are grown on their own farm and processed to achieve the most delicious and interesting cups. 

We were so honored to be joined by Origo Coffee from Romania, Tasty Coffee from Russia, Nord from Norway, Fuglen from Japan and Norway and other baristas and upcoming roasters. We are grateful you made the trip to Oslo to contribute, share, taste and collaborate. 

Our second container of Burundi coffees will arrive in Europe and the US in the next week or two, and coffees from La Palma y El Tucán are already in Europe. See our full offer list for details. 

Would you like to join us for the next Cup, Learn & Share? Join our mailing list on our homepage to stay up to date with events and happenings at CCS. 

 At the cupping table, Nico from CCS and Mihai from Origo Coffee, Romania. 

At the cupping table, Nico from CCS and Mihai from Origo Coffee, Romania. 

Meet a Farmer: Dorothy, Gaharo Hill

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A story that is never told is that of the nano smallholder coffee farmer. I'm referring now to the many coffee smallholders who own less than 500 coffee plants and subsist on coffee as their sole or majority cash crop. The coffee producers that make some of our most exciting coffees each year and reside in places like Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi. Their stories become anonymous, in large part, due to the sheer reality that it is impossible to engage with thousands of people at a time when buying coffee from the washing stations they sell their cherries to. But each of these farmers matter. From both an inter-relational perspective and also from the future of coffee perspective.

By now you've heard about and read report after report warning the coffee industry that climate change is having an increasingly deleterious effect on coffee production. Producers are increasingly saddled with harder to predict weather patterns, new pests and diseases as a result of these variant weather patterns, and confused plants that can't evolve quickly enough to adjust.

Here is where climate change researchers play a crucial role: it is through their work and collaborations with actors throughout our industry that will help us all try to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges that are developing all too quickly.

One of these researchers is Milda Jonusaite Nordbø, a PhD candidate from the University of Oslo's Department of Sociology and Human Geography. Milda's research is important not just because it's focused on climate change, but especially because it is centred on climate change adaptation. For her PhD dissertation, Milda's honed in on an origin that is dear to us, Burundi.  And through her field work, we will gain insights into how the nano smallholder farmers that produce our amazing coffees first, view their work as coffee producers, and (hopefully) next, how they are adapting to climate change.

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This is Dorothy, a coffee producer who delivers coffee cherries to our partner's, Long Miles Coffee, Bukeye washing station in Kayanza, Burundi. I met Dorothy, through Milda, during CCS' June buying trip this past summer. As part of Milda's data collection methodology, she decided to start a "photo journaling" project whereby chosen farmers were given cameras to document not only their daily life as a coffee farmer, but in particular the most important aspects of their daily life as one.

One of the biggest hindrances in social science research has been in getting as close to the reality of a subject's lived experience, as they truly live it. With photo journaling, there's more direct access to the point-of-view of the subject, rather than the researcher's interpretation of their experience. Yes, the researcher, in interviewing the subject about why they took the photo they did, comes in with their own bias and perspective, but the photos themselves do not lie and so using the photo as the basis for discussion is a great way to get close to what the person perceives as significant.

So, what does a day in the life of Dorothy look like? What does she see as important in her daily work as a coffee producer?

Turns out that Dorothy, along with the other few farmers who participated in her group of the photo journaling project, did not take photos of actual coffee. When asked to take photos of what's really important to them, Dorothy viewed her land and children as most important. This finding may run counter to what we would assume about someone who's sole basis for cash earnings rests on coffee. A question that this might raise is whether Dorothy, in not putting coffee at the forefront of her priorities, is negatively impacting her ability to be a great coffee farmer. It turns out this assumption isn't so.

Over the course of getting to know Dorothy over several weeks of meetings, Milda observed and learned the following:

  • Dorothy is vigilant about mulching and selective picking, which she has learned from working with Long Miles' coffee scouts (agricultural educators and outreach);
  • she views growing coffee in similar terms to raising a child: washing, nurturing, and caring for coffee requires hard work and diligence (e.g. mulching, planting shade trees);
  • she is equally meticulous about quality control - she and her children spend the time to hand sort the harvested cherries prior to delivering them to Bukeye washing station;
  • she is curious about the parts of the coffee chain that are beyond the washing station. When she was handed a copy of Standart Magazine, Dorothy had a million-and-one questions about almost every photo on the magazine's pages. It was the first time she had been introduced to the work of coffee professionals beyond a washing station and she was particularly eager to learn about and compare how coffee producers in other countries work.

Dorothy hadn't thought about the fact that there are non-Burundian coffee producers "out there" and when she saw a photo representing coffee production elsewhere, she immediately understood something more about why cherry quality is so important to the Long Miles team. That is to say that she, as a Burundian coffee farmer, is in competition with coffee farmers from other places. Say, Kenya, for example. Not only is this realization important to Dorothy in providing her with more meaning behind her work, it is crucially important for our industry that farmers know and can feel the significance of their work.

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In finishing up her perusing of the magazine, Dorothy wanted us to pass on a question and message to the customers of her coffee: "Why do we get paid so little?" and "We [coffee producers] think of you when we grow coffee. We wonder if you also think of us." In addition, she wanted us to tell you a few more things: the government is making laws that make coffee farming more and more challenging, and the income she receives from coffee pays for the education of her six children.

-Melanie


Coffees from Burundi are scheduled to arrive on January 15th in Antwerp and January 18th in New Jersey. Contact Sal for availability in NJ and Nico for availability in EU/Asia.

Living Our Values 2017

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It’s that time of year when we pause to review our past and plan for our future. At CCS, we have taken this time to consider why this company was founded, its successes and frustrations, and our hopes for the coming years.

The report, “Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017,” is an attempt to highlight the work we are doing to achieve our mission to “source the right coffee, the right way.”

With this document we aim to hold ourselves accountable to our producers, partners, and customers, and everyone working in specialty coffee.

Before the end-of-year celebrations begin in earnest, we hope you find a moment to read this report. We invite you to question, comment and respond. Please email us at info@collaborativecoffeesource.com with your thoughts.

Read the report: Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017