Exploring Quality Control in Each Step of the Coffee Process.
Many of the farmers who we have partnered with have worked in agriculture all their lives, many have worked in coffee for years, others are newer to the crop but they all are still perfecting their process, making small improvements here and there, adapting to changes, all to make the best cup of coffee possible.
In the afternoon of the De la Gente Coffee Congress the group of 15 coffee cooperative leaders were divided in three, very intentional groups, to do a breakout session. The theme of this breakout session was: Best Practices of the Coffee Process to Obtain the Highest Quality. Remember the ice breaker? Remember how each person talked about what their favorite part of the coffee process is?
Typically, when people love a certain thing, it also means they’re good at it. We wanted to make sure each person was a little bit out of their comfort zone so that they could learn the best practices of another piece of the process. Group #1’s focus was on the growing and maintenance of the coffee plants, Group #2 focused on Harvesting, Depulping, and Fermenting of the coffee, and Group #3 focused on Washing, Drying, Humidity Control, and Storage. Each group received time to build an outline of the best practices for their respective steps in the coffee process, and at the end, each group presented on their results.
The breakout session was an amazing learning opportunity, and the results were extremely well detailed best practices guidelines for each step in the process. Some farmers were taking pages and pages of notes, and this forum provided the farmers the opportunity to teach themselves, as a group, how best to perform each step in the coffee process. Raising the quality of coffee results is a two-fold financial benefit for farmers:
- Higher quality means higher yield, resulting in more coffee to sell
- High quality means more demand by consumers resulting in higher sales.
We ended the day by doing a coffee cupping. Last year, the cupping was an incredibly moving part of the day because for some, it was the first time they ever tasted their own coffee as a finished product, roasted and steeped.
This year because we did not have any new cooperatives, we decided to focus the cupping on really instilling the importance of following each step in the newly created quality guidelines. We had one coffee that was harvested prematurely, the fruit was not ripe which was vividly obvious in the aroma and flavor of the coffee. A second coffee was an Antigua blend that we received from another farm in the region, to offer a comparison of what quality coffee from Antigua would taste like, we still don’t think it was as good as the coffee our cooperatives produce, but we are admittedly biased. Finally we had a coffee from a different region of the world, so that they could taste the difference in specialty quality coffee from Guatemala and other countries. This gave the group the opportunity to have a fair view of how the coffee tasted, preventing biases, winners, and losers. Timo carefully planned this cupping to shine a light on the importance of the topics we had been discussing all day so that the group could see the difference and better understand the implications of not using the best practices, and how leadership can support cooperatives to produce higher quality coffee
This day, overall was a huge success, and we received a lot of positive feedback from Timo as well as the group about the organization and topics discussed. This was also Timo’s first time leading a full-day course, and his input and ideas, preparation, devotion, and execution could not be matched. His ability to command a room is incredible, and DLG couldn’t be prouder to have him as our lead trainer and are excited to create more opportunities for all the leaders to build on their skills and help to teach one another when possible.