It’s International Coffee Day. And since we’ve been lucky enough to send Head of Coffee Will and MD Paul over to Colombia in the last week, what better way to celebrate coffee than to think back on what we’ve learnt from their adventures at origin!
- That we learn from the growers, as much as they learn from us
Though Will really knows his stuff, and spends a lot of time mentoring growers around the world, there’s always more for him to learn! Ananeus at the El Mirador farm developed a methodology for drying cherries at low temperatures that really brings out the quality of the crop. He passed that on to Will who, in turn, can pass it on to other farmers – so everyone’s coffee quality improves!
- That cherry-pickers earn 50p per shift
That’s what our MD Paul discovered when he clocked in at Buenos Aires for Jose Ramon Collazos. But that 50p goes a lot further than it would here – you can grab a litre of water, six eggs or maybe even a packet of cigarettes with that. Not to mention, a cup of coffee (though maybe not what you’d opt for, when you’ve been knee-deep in beans all day!).
- That you can be friends with your competitors
You might not expect the owners of Buenos Aires, El Cairo, Casa Loma, El Diamanté and El Paraiso to be all buddy-buddy – considering they’re all farm owners in the same region, effectively competing to sell their crops! But turns out they’re lifelong friends – supporting each other and reinvesting in their community, by building a new chapel and creating a great school!
- That you need a lot of coffee to deliver constructive criticism… 33 cups, in fact!
It isn’t all barbecues and aguardiente on these overseas excursions… Will comes to Colombia to put some graft in. And that involves cupping coffees from all the farms in the region, to pick up new favourites and quality check the old faithfuls. Nothing stressful at all about delivering constructive criticism to a big table of expectant growers… but since Will had a whopping 33 cups to try, the buzz may have carried him through!
- That women are the future of coffee
Will and Paul’s travels finally took them to the Asomuprisma Women’s Association. This female-led group formed in 2016 and sells coffee from surrounding farms locally and to cooperatives – creating leadership opportunities for women and changing the way people think about gender roles in the industry. With it becoming essential that women receive the right training to become major players in coffee, they’re doing vital work! And that’s one reason why women are the focus of International Coffee Day this year.