Those 40 new specialty coffee shops in NYC that you read about in the New York Times? They have to get their coffee from somewhere... this post is about the hidden side of the specialty coffee boom.
I'm writing on the road here, at the Atlanta airport. In another 20 hours or so I will be touching down once again in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee.
This trip is all about the Cupping Caravan in Harar. A group of 14 coffee buyers from around the world are coming together to cup coffee out at the farms and mills.
We have mobile cupping units, complete with cups, spoons, mini grinders, electric roasters, a gas stove and kettles for water. We're driving out to the mills in the remote areas of Harar via 4x4 vehicle. We have electric inverters to hook the equipment to the car batteries for roasting the samples. We're cupping all these coffees on site at the coops!
Most Ethiopian coffee farmers have never tasted their own product prepared the way the consumer prepares it. In fact, most of them are not even aware that there is such a thing as a roasting company (since roasting is done daily by the small batch on little metal pans).
We're taking all the information and process that takes months to exchange and collapsing it to a single day. I don't think I've ever been as excited for a coffee project as I am for this one. Deals will be going down, as well. The buyers are getting a chance to buy directly from the coops.
These are the changes that have to continue to happen at the production end of things if we are going to keep having such wild success on the consumption end of things that we see detailed in today's New York Times.
Please check out our facebook page and leave a comment there. As usual when on the road, my posts will come when I have the opportunity to use the internet.