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TransFair USA is excited to announce the first ever Fair Trade Certified Cupping Competition and Auction. All ten Brazilian Fair Trade Certified Arabica producing cooperatives will be submitting samples to be judged in the competition. The goal of the event is to showcase high quality Fair Trade Certified coffee produced in Brazil and provide Fair Trade Certified licensees access to the best coffees at origin. Buyers will have the opportunity to sample, meet producers, and bid on the winning coffees through a closed auction. In addition, TransFair USA is organizing a four day excursion following the auction for those who wish to visit coffee producing cooperatives in Minas Gerais. The international jury will be grading coffees from October 20th to October 24th. We will hold a tasting, auction and awards ceremony in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais on Friday, October 24th. This event provides an opportunity to meet with producers and producer organizations, sample the award-winning coffees and place bids on your favorites.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Awards Ceremony Part 2

Once the announcement of the finalists began the atmosphere inside the auditorium became electric. As each winner took the stage their friends and families erupted in cheers and applause. The pride each of the producers' eyes was wonderful. Each producer was greeted on stage by the buyer of their lot, Silvio Leite, representatives of Pinhalense Agriculture Equipment, Cafe Bom Dia, and SEBRAE. The top three spots in each category also received cash prizes. After the awards ceremony, everyone headed upstairs for the reception where delicious Brazilian salgados, doces, and batidos were served. The judges had a chance to meet and talk with the finalists and discuss their coffees more in depth. The buyers also talked about how they would be selling the coffees in the USA and how the marketing materials would include information about the farmers themselves.

TransFair USA's Miguel Zamora congratulates Luiz Adalto de Oliveira of COOPFAM for taking 1rst place in the Naturals category
Photo: All rights Clay Enos

Francisco Braga who took 1rst place in the Semi-washed category is carried on stage by his fellow Pronova co-op members.
Photo: All Rights Clay Enos

Oscar Gonzales of Sustainable Harvest Inc. with members of COOPERVITAE from Nova Rezende.
Photo: All Rights Clay Enos

Darrin Daniel of Allegro Coffee, Beat Grueninger, and Andrew Miller of Cafe Imports pose with Jose Carlos de Paiva and his wife, who was very important to the drying and raking of the 3rd place natural coffee from COOPFAM.
Photo: All Rights Clay Enos

More pictures to come! Stay tuned.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Fair Trade Certified Cupping Competition Results

Results for the 2008 Fair Trade Certified Cupping Competition, Brazil

Naturally Processed Coffees






Luiz Adalto de Oliveira




Juares Carlos Pereira




Jose Carlos de Paiva




Paulo Cesar Afonso




Geraldo Valdecir de Oliveira




Rodrigo Reghim




Jair Reguim




Andre Luiz Reis

Assoc. Dos Costas



Euduardo Reghim




Joao Evangelista Alves



Semi-Washed Coffees






Francisco Braga




Evandro Cisconeti




Carlos Alberto Attos




Youssef Nicolas Nasr




Joao Luiz Spavier




Valdeir Jose Pena Cesati




Angelin Cisconetto




Francisco Turra Nunes




Marcos Antonio Nali




Joao Turra Nunes



All of the top ten lots in each category were bid on by international and domestic buyers. The top bids for naturals was $7.20/lb. for Luiz Adalto de Oliveira's lot and $3.00/lb. for Francisco Braga's lot. Purchasers for some of the lots included Tony's Coffee & Teas, Cafe Imports, The Roasterie, Cafe Bom Dia, and Allegro Coffee. The auction was a combination of closed envelop and open bidding.

The Awards Ceremony Pt 1

After the the auction and a short lunch, the awards ceremony was set to begin inside SEBRAE's large auditorium. The finalists in each category were invited to attend with their families and fellow co-op members. Buses had come from Nova Rezende, Boa Esperança, Poço Fundo, and as far away as Espirito Santo state.

Before the winners were announced the various partners in the project each took turns talking about the successes of the Responsible Sourcing Parnership, including TransFair USA's own Julia Delafield.

Pedro Carneiro of the Pronova co-op and Andre Luis Reis of Assoc. Das Costas talked about their co-ops participation in the cupping competition process. Both noted the value of the cupping training for their co-ops and how this will enable them to improve quality and learn how to better market their coffees.

All of the international panel judges were brought on staged and thanked for their participation.

David Hermann of the Roasterie, Kansas City and Beat Grueninger shake hands.

More on the awards ceremony later!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Finals Part 2

The final scores for the competition and are being calculated by Silvio Leite's team and descriptions of the lots are being written for tomorrow night's auction. Members of the panel are catching up on work from home, watching the Rwanda Cup of Excellence online auction, or enjoying a pleasant post-almoço siesta.

More delicious food at the Centro do Excellencia.

Wendy de Jong of Tony's Coffee & Teas deliberating her scores.

The international panel, TransFair USA staff, and the volunteers at the Centro do Excellencia who made it all happen.

Finals Feedback and Farmers

Once judges were finished with each round of cupping they met in a conference room with head judge Silvio Leite to give their scores and talk about the coffees. Often, when the discussion about a particular aroma or flavor becomes animated, Silvio has provided insight into why the trait exists. In some cases it's related to post-harvest techniques-when the cherries are picked, how much fermentation if any, how the cherries are dried if they're naturals, etc. While discussing a high scoring natural coffee, Silvio noted that the coffee could score even higher with a few changes in production techniques.

And this is the crux of the Fair Trade Certified Cupping Competition. By looking at how the coffees scored and relating that back to how they were produced will enable the Responsible Sourcing Project lift up the level of Brazilian Fair Trade Certified coffees. Feedback on individual farmers' coffees provided be expert roasters, green buyers, and academics enables the technical trainings to become more fine-tuned.

On to Belo Horizonte for the awards ceremony and auction. Stay tuned!

Silvio Leite leading the charge for Brazilian Fair Trade Certified coffees.

The Finals

Silvio Leite and Wendy de Jong in full cupping mode.

This morning our crew of judges and TransFair USA staff left the Colinas Hotel and headed out to the Centro de Excellencia for the final two rounds of cupping

The morning will feature ten of the top natural coffees from Tuesday's session and eleven of the semi-washed/washed coffees from yesterday (the eleventh coffee is due to a tie, not any Spinal Tap references.) The international panel is really looking forward to this final session for several reasons. These coffees are all ones that the judges want to see again. For Darrin Daniel the final round "gives you a chance to really wrap your arms around the coffees and get very descriptive." The Allegro green buyer also said that "when you recognize a coffee you like from the first round it resonates with you and proves its quality."

John Cossette, Andrew Miller, and David Hermann calculate their final scores.

Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poço Fundo Part 2

After the visit at COOPFAM's new dry mill and cupping room, we all piled into the van and set off to visit a member's farm. The journey was worthy of an Indiana Jones movie. We were told that the carpets of giant red ants we'd pass on the road were signs of coming rain (not eminent doom.) One collapsed bridge forced a long detour around to another bridge which looked like it was about to collapse. Bets were taken on how the van would fall into the river. The scenery, as it is in most coffee lands, was beautiful-tall rolling hills dotted with small farms, dense lush foliage contrasted with deep red soil, plenty of free-range grass-fed hormone-free cows, and plenty of coffee trees.

We finally arrived at the farm of Sebastião Oliveira Silva after having to shoo a few languid cows off the road. In front of his his family's home was a beautiful new drying patio funded through a rotating grant from the Responsible Sourcing Partnership. Eleven Fair Trade Certified producer groups applied for the grant and after deliberations that included coffee industry experts, five groups we given the loans to disburse among their members. The co-ops are responsible for tracking and reporting the use of the fund on a monthly basis. The co-ops will also pay back into the funds to that other members can benefit on a rotating basis.

Our group was welcomed into thier home and served delicious bolo de banana (banana bread), queijo caseiro (home-made cheese made from those lazy cow's milk), and coffee from Sebastiao's farm. Treats were made by Sebastiao's wife Vania Lucia Pereira Silva with help from their children Camila, Gabriel, and Daniel. Oscar Gonzales found the bolo de banana particularly enjoyable and sat himself down next to the plate.

While the rest of us headed off on a short hike to see Sebastiao's plants, Oscar took a short siesta digestiva on the hammock.

Sebastiao has about 12 hectares of coffee trees, all organic. Like the other flora and fauna in this part of Brazil, the plants were tall and healthy. The harvest was almost a month late this year due to rains and Sebastiao had just finished a few weeks ago. Many of the plants were already undergoing some beautiful flowering, hinting at a strong harvest next year.

We thanked Sebastiao and his family for their wonderful hospitality and headed back down he red road.

Brazilian Food

Just a small clarification for anyone who thought we were serious about the strict food regime of bread and water for the judges-we've been eating some wonderful meals. The joke was more about cupping competition director Silvio Leite and his stellar attention to detail and procedure. There are however some guidelines for diet when cupping. Things you want to avoid the night before and day of the cupping include onions, garlic, hot peppers, and alcohol. While those ingredients have been absent for the most part from our meals, the food has been delicious.

Brazil is well known for it's grilled meats due to the proliferation of churrascurias around the world. Rodizios are found in most US citie where can gorge yourself on things like picanha (a cut known as "rump cover", seasoned with rock salt and grilled to perfection.) But we've also had plenty of fruits and vegetables. Some of the salads have included different lettuces as well as watercress (agriao) which is particular to Minas Gerais. The ever present pao de queijo have been very popular, especially at breakfast (cafe de manha).

Poço Fundo

After the cupping the panel of judges visited COOPFAM (Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poço Fundo e Regiao, or just Poço Fundo) Founded in 1991, the co-op has grown to achieve many of its long term goals and recently completed a new dry mill in May of this year. Three years ago the co-op began exporting its own coffee which completed the journey to self-sufficiency in all matters of post-production.

COOPFAM General Manager Luiz Adauto and John Cossette of Royal Coffee discuss this year's crop in the co-ops new dry mill.

Inside the co-ops cupping room the judges talk with Luis about quality control. All of the farmer members' beans are cupped individually, allowing the co-op to sort and market the lots accordingly.

Luiz Adauto and Miguel Zamora, Coffee Category Manager for TransFair USA, discuss how individual farmer lots are cupped and scored.

The judges had the opportunity to cup a few of the co-ops coffees including a real stunner with honeycomb aromas and clean acidity grown by Sr. Luiz himself. We then piled into the van and headed out to visit a co-op member's farm. More on that later!

A day of naturals

Tuesday here at the Center of Excellence saw the conclusion of round one for naturally processed coffees. Naturals, those allowed to dry whole with the beans still inside the cherry, can be problematic on the cupping table. "It's always difficult to cup natural coffees because you can always find a lot of variations from cup to cup and table to table" says Andrew Miller of Cafe Imports. Twenty-nine coffees in three flights were cupped on Tuesday and Andrew saw two coffees per set that were "outstanding." Most likely these six and four others will go on to the final round of judging on Thursday.

Andrew Miller in action.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

International Panel Biographies

While our judges finish cupping the third and final round of naturals, let's learn a little more about them.

Oscar Gonzales, Supply Manager, Sustainable Harvest, Lima, Peru

Oscar Gonzales began his career in coffee eleven years ago. He initially started working at national roasting companies, where he established strong relationships with key coffee companies and exporting cooperatives in Peru. Oscar then worked with coffee producing organizations for a private export company, where he gained experience in the area of production, logistics, and quality control.

Oscar has a great understanding of the demands of the specialty coffee industry in regards to quality and production practices. With Sustainable Harvest, Oscar works in supplier relations, helps link new coffee producers to the market, leads training seminars, and oversees cupping training to teach smallholder farmers the language of quality through taste. Recently, Oscar became a licensed Q Grader, a professional accreditation for coffee cuppers. He is the first Peruvian to earn this distinction.
Sustainable Harvest

Darrin Daniel, Allegro Coffee, Thornton, CO
Darrin Daniel is the green coffee buyer for the Colorado based, Allegro Coffee Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Whole Foods Market. Beginning in 1985, Daniel’s has worked in specialty coffee as a trainer, roaster, barista, technician and coffee specialist. He has served as an international judge for Cup of Excellence in Brazil, El Salvador and Honduras, in addition to travelling to numerous coffee farms throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America since 2001. Daniel’s currently serves on the advisory board for Roast Magazine and is a member of the Roaster’s Guild, a branch of the SCAA dedicated to the craft of roasting. In 2008 he became a licensed Q grader by the Coffee Quality Institute and is also Star Cupper certified by the SCAA. In 1991 he received his BA from Naropa University in Literature and Writing with a minor in Anthropology and Religious Studies. Naropa University in Boulder Colorado comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental leadership, psychology and religious studies.
Allegro Coffee Company

David Hermann, Bean Machine (Roaster), The Roasterie, Kansas City MO

David has worked in the coffee industry since his college days at Saint Louis University. He enjoys the international flavors that specialy coffee brings to the Kansas City community. A member of the Roasters Guild, and an espresso aficionado, David never stops trying to learn more about our beautiful beans. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, mingling in the thriving Kansas City coffee culture, and traveling throughout the world.
The Roasterie

Andrew Miller, Cafe Imports, Minneapolis, MN

Andrew Miller is the president and founder of Café Imports, a boutique green coffee importing company based in Minneapolis MN. USA He has a degree from the University of Minnesota and twenty years of restaurant experience prior to launching a Specialty Coffee importing business in 1993.

Fourteen years later, he and the Café Imports team are sourcing and selling some of the world’s finest coffees and working with some of the nation’s best roasters to bring a revolutionary coffee experience to the people. They are working with Cup of Excellence coffees, building a state of the art coffee lab and conducting cutting edge green coffee storage experiments to continue the knowledge curve and expand the possibilities of great coffee.
Cafe Imports

Wendy de Jong, Tony's Coffees & Teas, Bellingham WA

Wendy De Jong is the Vice President and Coffee Buyer for Tony’s Coffees and Teas, located in Washington and California. Wendy began her coffee career as a barista in Seattle, and has enjoyed coffee retail management, espresso education and training, equipment repair, roasting and production management. Currently she spends most of her time sourcing great tasting coffees and developing mutually beneficial relationships with coffee producers. She is a frequent volunteer with the Specialty Coffee Association of America, is serving as Secretary/Treasurer for the Roasters Guild Executive Council, and is a licensed Q Grader.
Tony's Coffee & Teas

John Cossette, Royal Coffee Inc., Emeryvill CA

John is a Vice President, Trader, and Green Buyer for Royal Coffee Inc. in Emeryville CA. Fourteen of John's eighteen years in the coffee business have been spent with Royal. John also worked for five years as an Organic Inspector for OCIA and CCOF. John is married with one child and currently resides in Oakland CA.
Royal Coffee

Professor Flávio Meira Borém, Federal University of Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Flavio has a degree in Agronomy from the Federal University of Viçosa, a PhD in Agricultural Engineering and Plant Production from the Wageningen University - Netherlands (2006), and has done post-doctorate work at the Coffee Lab International (2008). He is the editor of a new book called Post-Harvest Coffee which covers the process and production of post-harvest coffee. Professor Borem is also and expert in the field of Post-Harvest and Quality Coffee with emphasis on metabolomics approach related to the change in quality during processing and drying. He is also professor of drying and storage of coffee in addition to UFLA speaker at various scientific technical events. He has also been a Cupping Judge of the SCAA.
Federal University of Lavras

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Calibrations, Rio, and those nifty cups

For those of you who've never been on a cupping panel I should probably dig a little deeper on calibrations. First, the calibration can also serve as a warm-up for the judges, giving them a chance make sure their own senses are dialed-in. As we well know, we all have different palates and different senses of smell. While experienced cuppers tend to be totally tuned into their noses & tongues, they're still individuals with varying life experiences and sense memories. One combination of volatilized compounds in a cup of joe might make me think of my grandma Ellen's canned peaches at the same time that they remind Darrin Daniel of fine a fine Peach Lambic (which he's now obligated to buy for all the judges after the competition.) A strong phenolic taint might make one person think of the time he lit a pencil eraser in grade school (ahem...) or it could call up the sense memory of a burnt out clutch. A key task of a calibration is to ensure that the judges are noticing similar things in the samples-like in #8 today which featured fecund phenols.

Last, but not least, a calibration session can include a discussion of aromas, flavors, and taints particular to the origin. With naturally processed coffees, human influence on the quality of the coffee only goes so far. With the other half of our competition, the processed coffees, a farmer can do much more in post-harvest processing to ensure quality. One particular taint that can plauge Brazilian coffees is the infamous Rio-taint. A lot of work has been done over the years on this fungal contaminant (present in old #8 above) and we're extrememly lucky to have one of Brazil's foremost authorities on this phenomenon on our panel. Professor Flavio Meira Borem of the Federal University of Lavras related some of the recent studies on Rio-taint and how cherry hang-time on the tree is one of the largest factors involved.

Professor Borem has also been actively involved in the Responsible Sourcing Partnership through leading technical trainings for Fair Trade producers. He's also edited a wonderful new book on the technical aspects of post-harvest coffee care. Covering everything from the physics of drying to how to properly warehouse your beans, the book is a tremendous aid to Brazil's small farmers and co-ops. For those attending SCAA next year in Atlanta, you'll be able to purchase the English translation of Professor Borem's book on (and currently available for coffee nerds who read Portuguese.)

A few more pictures of the day's action:

Those nifty cups. They come with little plastic lids to keep the grinds fresh. They might be uniquely Brazilian

John Cossette of Royal, Darrin Daniel of Allegro, Joao Batista Jardli of SAAG Brazil, Takahisa Toda of MC Coffee Brazil, and Wendy de Jong of Tony's.

There's also an awful lot of hot water in Brazil

Roasting sample batches on the Probatinho


Today marks the start of the first ever Fair Trade Cupping Competition in Brazil. The judges are all well rested and ready to go after a proper night's rest. Our panel started out this morning from the Hotel Colinas in the heart of downtown Machado after a tasty Brazilian breakfast which included one of my favorites, Pao de Queijo with bacon. The judges, of course, we're only allowed a slice of white bread and some water so as to not upset their delicate palates (no I didn't see David Hermann eat chocolate cookies and jello for breakfast.)

About 15 minutes outside hilly Machado the Centro de Excellencia do Cafe, Sul de Minas sits on a small plateau overlooking lush farmland. It was built last year through federal and municipal funds in order to serve as an educational and technical training center.

Every cupping competition begins with a calibration in order to align the panel around standards and terms. Silvio Leite, a veteran cupper who's directed too many Cups of Excellence to count, led off the morning by going over the most recent edition of the SCAA cupping form and protocols. Then it was off to the laboratory across the courtyard to start cupping.

Reference samples

Andrew Miller of Cafe Imports and Darrin Daniel of Allegro Coffee discuss the merits of by-the-kilo roadside churrascurias.

Volunteers from the local agrarian school.
After the first run-through, the judges will break for lunch. The afternoon session will involve more cupping and a final alignment meeting to conclude the calibration.
Stay tuned for more!
-Demian Luper, TransFair USA

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The International Panel of Judges

The first ever Fair Trade Cupping Competition in Brazil has brought together an international panel featuring roasters, importers, exporter, Q Graders, and cupping superstars from the USA and South America. In less than a week the international panel will begin the competition with a calibration meeting led by Silvio Leite to establish standards. On Tuesday 10/21 the panel will begin cupping the naturals category at the Center of Excellence in Machado. More updates to follow!

Prof. Flávio Meira Borém, Universidade Federal de Lavras, BRAZIL
John Cosseette, Royal Coffee Inc,, Emeryville CA, USA
Darrin Daniel, Q Grader, Allegro Coffee Company, Thronton CO, USA
Wendy de Jong, Q Grader, Tony's Coffee & Teas, Bellingham, WA, USA
Oscar Gonzales, Sustainable Harvest, Lima, PERU
David Hermann, The Roasterie, Kansas City, MO, USA
Joao Batista Jarduli, SAAG, BRAZIL
Silvio Leite, AgriCafe, BRAZIL
Andrew Miller, Cafe Imports, Minneapolis MN, USA
Jack Robson Silva, Cafe Bom Dia, BRAZIL

Takashi Toda, Mitsubishi, BRAZIL
Fernando Monteiro, Mitsubishi, BRAZIL
Arnaldo Baskerville, Cafema, BRAZIL
Alexandre Gonzaga, Minas Estate Coffee, BRAZIL