St Remio is committed to empowering the lives of Rwanda’s female coffee producers and promoting the stories behind each cup.
June 21 was no ordinary day for St Remio Director Julia Tink and Founder Trent Knox. As they emerged from their car at the top of a hill overlooking the Rukara suburb in the Kayonza district of Rwanda, they heard singing and chanting in the distance. Drawn to the sounds, the husband-and-wife team made their way down the dusty clay path holding hands. Tears rolled down Julia’s face as she saw the joyous expressions of 150 local women who had gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Twongere Umusaruro Cupping Lab and give thanks. Read more
John Russell Storey of Cofi-Com describes the value of Jamaica’s smallholder producers and the value of shade cover in the Caribbean island nation.
When people think of the island country of Jamaica, thoughts immediately turn to a love of reggae and the Jamaican bobsled team, made famous in the 1994 movie Cool Runnings about four Jamaican athletes who formed a bobsled dream to fulfill their dreams of competing in the Winter Olympics.Read more
Fairtrade is providing small-scale producers in Papua New Guinea with access to advanced training to improve the quality and consistency of their coffee.
Not long ago, Papua New Guinea was one of the leading suppliers of coffee to Australia, providing more than half the nation’s imports. However, after PNG gained independence in the 1970s and quotas and duties were lifted off other origins in the 1980s, Australia began looking elsewhere to source its coffee. Read more
Bruck Fikru of Volcafe describes the legacy of Ethiopian coffee and how new ideas are transforming traditional processes.
It took a while to connect with Bruck Fikru, General Manager of our sister company, Volcafe, in Ethiopia. Political turmoil in the country led to restrictions being placed on people’s internet and social media access. Bruck says this difficulty with communication is one of several challenges being overcome by Ethiopia’s enduring coffee industry. Read more
Cofi-Com’s John Russell Storey explores what really goes on behind closed doors at one of the country’s largest coffee traders, and just how many coffees are actually consumed.
Cofi-Com’s Operations and Trading Manager Dariusz Lewandowski and I are between origin trips at the moment. We’re giving our passports a rest and wistfully reminiscing about the last plantations and the folks we saw and talked to. That being said, two weeks ago Dariusz snuck in a quick trip to Papua New Guinea. Read more
Australian Subtropical Coffee Association’s Rebecca Zentveld on how to keep Australia’s coffee growing industry pest and disease free.
Thanks to Australia’s geographical isolation, it is the only coffee-producing nation in the world that is free of coffee leaf rust and the coffee berry borer pest.
It’s also thanks to Australia’s rust-resistant cultivars that Australian coffee growers enjoy the unique position of being able to grow naturally spray-free coffee in a cooler, subtropical climate.
However, with such isolation comes a degree of vulnerability, and we are always at risk of introduced pests and diseases.
If coffee pests such as the berry borer or leaf rust were to arrive on our plantations, the Australian coffee growing industry could be wiped out.
Farmers can only do so much to ensure that Australia’s coffee crops remain free of pests and disease. We also rely on the people visiting and working with international origins to be on the lookout, such as baristas and roasters, the ones who could accidentally introduce these pests to the country.
To avoid introducing pests and diseases to Australia, be aware of the following risks and rules.
When returning from visiting origin plantations, you could inadvertently bring back coffee leaf rust spores on your clothes and shoes. Spores aren’t visible, but cling easily to clothing and textured material. The berry borer beetle can easily get caught up in folded clothing, or in a backpack or camera bag. Shake your clothes out thoroughly for any little critters.
Never bring home hessian or jute coffee bags from origin. Also avoid bringing back small samples of green bean. If you do bring back small samples, treat them like the biosecurity hazard that they are and keep them isolated. Leave hessian bags at your roastery, and above all else, do not place anywhere near a coffee tree — even if in a garden or a pot. Leaf rust spores can last for weeks on hessian bags, and become active under the right conditions.
Only use green beans for roasting. Do not germinate green beans yourself, or contract a local nursery to do so. This is illegal because the biosecurity risk is immense. The biosecurity protocols for importing coffee for roasting do not cover the purposes of growing coffee, which is far more stringent. Australia’s legitimate, law abiding coffee importing companies know and strictly communicate that any green bean they sell is for the purposes of roasting, not growing.
Back on home soil, there are, however, a few simple steps you can take to ensure Australia’s coffee production remains fruitful.
At the roaster: Keep hessian bags separate from everything else and dispose of hessian bags responsibly. Thoughtfully repurposing for art or craft work is ideal.
When returning from origin: At international arrivals, do the right thing and declare your coffee farm visit to the quarantine officers and get your shoes sprayed by the biosecurity officer. It only takes a few minutes. Also, wash all clothes, boots, jackets, and bags soon after returning home.
When visiting an Australian coffee plantation: Either soon after returning from origin or after being in your roastery, tell the plantation staff where you have been and be sure not to have the same bags, boots or clothes.
If we all take biosecurity seriously, we can help prevent any breakout or transference of the dreaded coffee pests and diseases, and Australia’s coffee growing industry can bloom without fearing the future.
Cofi-Com’s John Russell Storey explores Tanzania’s countryside that reveals committed farmers, impressive coffees and a real life animal kingdom.
Arriving in Tanzania was a world away from the bustling, crazy capital city experience of Kampala. Kilimanjaro Airport is bang in the middle of the countryside, with the nearest major town well over an hour’s drive away.
Most arriving passengers are whisked away by tour operators heading off to big parks like Serengeti. For us, it was a short drive to a nearby lodge for an afternoon of R&R before driving almost two hours the next day through arid scrub and acacia trees to Burka and Mondul Estates.Read more
Pedro Gabarra Teixeira is a sixth-generation Brazilian coffee farmer committed to protecting the natural habitats around his farms and educating the community on the importance of preservation.
Despite Pedro Gabarra Teixeira’s family having more than 150 years of coffee farming behind them, his first taste of the coffee industry came further down the supply chain.
“I am a sixth-generation coffee farmer, but I wasn’t actually raised on the farms. My relationship with coffee actually started in 2001, when I was at university and started to roast,” Pedro tells BeanScene.
“The idea behind the roaster was to give Brazil the best coffees of Brazil, not necessarily exporting everything good. That’s how I got into coffee.” Read more
When people ask: “How was your origin trip?” I struggle to find the right words to capture everything and do the country justice.
However, if I had to summarise Uganda in just one word, it would be “industriousness”. Kampala, the country’s capital and largest city, buzzes with insane motorcycle taxis that operate on adrenaline and blind luck. Main roads are lined on both sides by a myriad of small businesses selling everything from luscious fruits to massive bedsteads and intricate wooden coffins. In some areas it’s a contrast between sophisticated restaurants and people living in corrugated iron shacks tens of metres away. Outside the cities and towns, the pace is slower but it felt like everyone was doing something or going somewhere. Read more
Minas Hill Coffee Founder Marcelo Brussi says his admiration for coffee farmers comes from his relationship with his grandfather, Francisco Brussi, who grew up working on coffee farms.
Francisco’s parents migrated from Italy to Brazil to work in coffee farms before he was born. After his father left the family when Francisco was 10, he, his mother and brother, moved to Sao Paulo. When Francisco was an adult, the State Department of Agriculture hired him to monitor coffee exports, due to his knowledge as a coffee picker and worker. Read more