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Cup of Excellence – Costa Rica

23/05/2011

At the Costa Rica Cup of Excellence this year we saw this guy load what may well be a couple of containers a day in this manor.

Warning this post did start last night as just the video above, but after a few beers the post meanders on a tad…

It was very interesting to see the opposite end of the Micro Mill revolution in Costa Rica. It is not what we (specialty Coffee) might deal with but you know what, families are being fed…

We did how ever talk with the farmers that just because their coffees are fetching a better price, this does not mean that they should rest on their laurels. For the first time in 15 years or so we may find ourselves paying more for lesser quality, this alone hurts, as we are and for a long time have always been, prepared to pay more for quality.

Conversely for the first time in years the farmer has more money on hand to re-invest, learn and make his farm even better equipped to handle the inevitable drop in prices as people replant over the next 3 years or so. I truly hope that the farmer sees this as the time to make a better business,  a better farm, maybe mill themselves and take control. Imagine if they all did, where would coffee be in the years to come if the bar was truly lifted? If farmers took ownership like vineyard owners and told the market, no, this is how you should represent my coffees.

What will happen to the farmers who don’t care about quality, who don’t taste their coffees, who don’t feed their soils, have a sustainable re-planting procedure in place when the prices drop in a couple of years? They will again be on the back burner when prices drop and may well be the first to claim “hard times” and “foul play” and be planting other cash crops…

It can be seen happening already, farmers are becoming famous like their vineyard partners and soon, will be able to direct the end market a lot more. With knowledge and understanding of what their soils/ plants need, better processing and ultimately knowing what their coffees taste like and how to make them taste that way, they may well hold the upper hand. Imagine what a producer could achieve with this knowledge, backed up with the software prowess of programs like Cropster they could have a lot more influence in a better coffee world.

I believe that even though this is hard times for some in the specialty coffee industry, if climate change does not screw us entirely, we may, with smart producers be tasting much better coffees in the near future.

Just a thought…

Deaton

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