I came across this article about Fair Trade at the Oromia Cooperative in Ethiopia. The article touches on a Fairtrade Climate Standard to help farmers acquire an alternative stove – to replace the traditional ‘three-stone’ fire. Given the cooperative’s focus on coffee, the new stoves are destined for coffee producers. The stoves mean that there is less need for gathering of firewood, ergo more time for other activities, less pressure on the standing forest, and less smoke in the home. While there are all sorts of additional spokes to the wheel of combatting climate change, this is one positive effort for a coffee producing cooperative. And, this particular cooperative produce some excellent organic coffee beans, which we enjoy roasting and brewing. Groups like FairTrade International and 1% For Women provide great opportunity for agriculturalists worldwide, and especially women farmers. We at the Roastery are proud members of both groups.
As we sip on an afternoon cappuccino or drown in a morning brew looking for the caffeine fix, it is difficult to pull yourself out of the urban atmosphere, the lights, the traffic, the veneer of the cafe interior, etc and think about where your coffee came from. Once you begin to trace its journey to the cup, you may ponder supply chains, distribution networks, artistry of roasting, origins and fate of packaging, commodity markets, port cities, tropical hillsides dotted with farms, beans drying in the sun, and a host of other subjects. The list of what there is to learn and the depth of potential subject matter is astounding.
One topic that gets little play in the world of coffee is the business acumen of growers. Coffee periodicals cover how coffee is harvested and processed as well as innovations that encourage success or novel ways of using by-products in the chain of production. Usually the coffee bean is the common link, however a recent blog post in Daily Coffee News delves outside of coffee production and highlights strategies to diversify.
A certain level of climate change is undeniable, save for a few remnant deniers. As we feel the impacts of climate change, we must implement economic diversification strategies. We at the Buena Vista Roastery continually analyze ways to diversify and are signatories on the Caring for the Climate Initiative. Fortunately we are also participating in the Caring for the Climate forum in Paris in 2015. The blog post by Jefferson Shriver presents other crops that producers can grow, such as cacao, vanilla, macadamia nuts, spices, etc. While introductory, Responding to the Climate Crisis through Crop Diversification is a refreshing opening to alternatives that coffee producers, the “guinea pigs of climate change”, have to explore.
When I first opened our new bag of green Fair Trade Rwanda Dukunde Kawa, I was amazed at the clean and deep color. And of course, I was excited to work on the roast to see what we could pull out of our Rwandan, specialty grade coffee. I dropped it into the Diedrich IR-12 as any other African bean, assuming the first crack would happen at a fairly consistent temperature, which informs when I load the drum. After a couple roasts, just lighter or darker than the last, we dialed in the profile; it’s a wonderful cup.
Profile: A medium roast with medium to lighter body. Complex. Dry finish. Floral, hibiscus. Winey.
Notes on the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, from our Fair Trade certifiers, Fair Trade, USA:
Founded in 2000, The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative (Musasa) cultivates its high-quality coffee near a mountain gorilla habitat in central Rwanda. By producing high-end coffee for the international market and employing a majority female workforce, the cooperative ensures maximum benefits to local families. In 2003, it built a washing station with funds provided by the Rwandan ministry of defense. In exchange for this support, the Dukunde Kawa cooperative donates 10 percent of its net profits annually to fund the construction of other washing stations throughout Rwanda.
Fair Trade Certified™ since 2004, Dukunde Kawa secures a high standard of living for Rwandan farmers by ensuring access to an economically and environmentally sustainable coffee industry. Eighty percent of Dukunde’s producers are women.
In February 2005, the Coffee Review gave Dukunde Kawa’s coffee a rating of 90 points and recommended their coffee to those “moved by the miracle of mountain gorillas, by the recovery of Rwanda, and by the miraculous pleasure of a delicately lush coffee like this one.”
Here at the Roastery, I have often been slow to embrace marketing ourselves. As some folk from out of Buena Vista know, we carry a lot of various coffees in the shop that I periodically post for offering online, but mostly just keep it quiet. However, it is time to promote our great microlot coffees with more fervor. So, I will let you all know of our first Microlot Coffee officially announced. It is a Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian Ademegorbota, a washed Yirgacheffe. We’ve roasted it as a ‘medium’ in our classification system, highlighting the Bergamot, blueberry, and lemongrass while adding a enough body for the flavors to linger and give the satisfaction of having had a great cup of coffee.
The Ademegorbota Cooperative is located just outside of the town Yirgacheffe. This coffee, grown at altitudes of up to about 7500 feet, is the highest growing area in the country. The 1,220 member cooperative has recently reorganized after some management issues, and we are fortunate to receive their first harvest since this time. The previous cooperative, Kelo, had been renown for its incredible profiles found in its coffees.
We are very excited to present the Ademegorbota as a part of the Buena Vista Roastery’s high altitude grown coffee selection.
I’ve been enjoying the fruity and hoppy unwashed Ethiopian Sidamo that we’ve had in these past couple of months. The berry notes are mellow and smooth, and complement the body maintained by our high altitude roasting. With that said, I came across an interesting article and report on National Public Radio talking about how far Ethiopian coffees have come, particularly since they were known as “Jimma 5” coffee. Jimma 5 coffee was known for containing all 5 of the major defects; the more defects you have in your green beans, the worse it is and therefore an inevitability of a bad cup of coffee (unless you like Folgers and such). Inspecting the Specialty Grade beans from Ethiopia anymore and you find very clean, very uniform beans. Perhaps it is the nationalization of the Ethiopian coffee industry and their country-wide use of the logo. Perhaps it is due to assistance programs. Perhaps it is due to evermore sophisticated palates. In nay case, I for one am grateful to have Ethiopian on hand and ready to roast, grind, and brew.