Last week, we hosted a regional Let’s Talk Coffee® event for our Central American coffee suppliers at one of IHCAFE’s locations in Santa Barbara, Honduras. This event marks the 2nd time we have hosted a regional Let’s Talk Coffee gathering for Central America, and given this year’s Coffee Rust outbreak, it was timed at a crucial juncture to gather our suppliers together and address challenges face to face. A successful three days of in-depth discussions and trainings on Coffee Rust prevention and recovery, the event marked a milestone for the Roya Recovery Project disaster relief effort which we launched with partners earlier this year.
At the Honduras event, our supply team distributed the Roya Recovery Toolkit to over 60 attendees from more than 20 cooperatives in Central America. Consisting of a DVD and written manual, the Toolkit provides a comprehensive source of technical information based on insight and recommendations from the most credible sources in the Central American coffee industry, such as IHCAFE and Cenicafé.
Attendees also got to hear from Alvaro Gaitain, of Cenicafé about the effects of climate change on coffee plagues and diseases, Harold Gamboa of IHCAFE about Coffee Rust diagnosis and prevention, and Hernando Tapasco of Colombia’s Cafe Granja la Esperanza about implementing a program of planting new varietals.
During cupping sessions with 12 cuppers from our supply chain we tasted 19 coffees from 8 countries in 95 cups. We also tasted Roya-affected coffees which have mainly a note of vegetables, peas, peanuts, and wood. The profiles of these coffees in terms of SCAA rating show differences between 1-2 points below normal levels. During these cuppings, we defined a scientific approach to profiling Roya worked on connecting the incidence and severity of Roya on the plant to the cup profile.
Let’s Talk Coffee® in Honduras left us with a lot to think about as we face the year ahead. In particular:
- Next year, farmers will face higher costs of production for maintaining levels of quality similar to previous years. As an industry we must be open, transparent, and communicative about price differentials for Central America so that the business is sustainable for all.
- Managing expectations about quality next year is essential--to do so, we need a scientific approach for understanding Roya's impact on the cup, and create a common understanding as an industry that is shared down to the cooperative level.
- Based on this years evaluations, we are seeing that there is a relationship between the amount of Roya on a plant and the green coffee's shelf life--the more Roya on the farm, the quicker we need to move the green coffee from origin to roaster. So we will all need to pay more attention to shipping, managing volumes, avoiding inefficiencies, speeding up sample approval, and special packaging for green coffee preservation.
We are looking forward to continue with our effort to address farmers’ immediate socio-economic needs with a global version of the event, Let’s Talk Roya. It will take place from November 3 to November 5 in El Salvador. The registration will open by the end of June.