Smell, Brew, Break, Clean, Taste, and Score…

Two things happened during the last week…

  • Happy 239th birthday to Los Estados Unidos de America!
  • We want to congratulate Peru’s national team for winning “Copper Medal” in Copa America 2015. Thanks for an amazing and exciting game!
Jennifer (left) and Sapphire (right) riding motorcycles  Scenic view on the way to San Ignacio (center)

Jennifer (left) and Sapphire (right) riding motorcycles
Scenic view on the way to San Ignacio (center)

Since our last entry, we have been busy with traveling to the campos and visiting the associations at CENFRO’s different networks. Six focus group meetings have been conducted in provinces of Chirinos, Huabal and San Ignacio. From the meetings, we have learned from and discussed with the producers about our three adaptation strategies which are 1) financing solar driers; 2) local tree nursery and/or seed bank; 3) self-monitoring of plague and other diseases on different varieties of coffee. The preliminary results from the six groups so far are as follows:

  • The majority of the producers showed great interest in having solar driers at their farms/parcels. They requested to have more information on the effectiveness of each solar dryer model; financing opportunities including credits and funds from cooperatives or other financial institutes; and existing and future related projects in their or surrounding communities.
  • For the strategy of tree nursery and seed bank, the producers from the meetings expressed their concerns over the feasibility of building a tree nursery at local level due to the need of complex logistics. However, seed bank idea has been in favor of the coffee smallholders and drawn more attentions and discussions.
  • The producers are mostly interested in helping monitoring plague and other diseases on their plants for effectively control the aggressive plague hits during the current years. Some producers suggested to include some self-monitoring forms to their Cuadernos (a standard record-organizing notebook that CENFRO distributes to its members). They expressed their willingness to spend 10-30 minutes of their time every week to write about the plague condition at their farms. However, some of the farmers said that there was no existing plague problem at their farms and it would be unnecessary to have additional obligations besides daily-caring coffee plants and harvesting.
A socia talking about her Cuaderno (left) Beautiful flower outside the meeting room (center) Lovely Jennifer facilitating Community Asset Mapping (right)

A socia talking about her Cuaderno (left)
Beautiful flower outside the meeting room (center)
Lovely Jennifer facilitating Community Asset Mapping (right)

We are excited about the range of responses from the producers and looking forward to analyze the feasibility of each strategy.

One thing that stood out to us during the focus group meetings was that producers were proud about their coffee quality scoring over 80. We nodded and smiled with them, but neither of us understood the true meaning of a score of 80. Thus, we scheduled a visiting to the CENFROCAFE’s Laboratory for a cupping tour. Big thanks to the Head of Laboratory, Alex, and the beautiful secretary, Flor for arranging the visit for us!

Posing for CENFROCAFE products at San Ignacio Office (left) Sign of CENFROCAFE Coffee Quality Control Laboratory (center) Selfie with beans before their “quality tests” at Bagua Processing Plants (right)

Posing for CENFROCAFE products at San Ignacio Office (left)
Sign of CENFROCAFE Coffee Quality Control Laboratory (center)
Selfie with beans before their “quality tests” at Bagua Processing Plants (right)

Coffee cupping (aka coffee tasting) is the process of grading the coffee quality by observing its taste and aroma. The basic steps are:

  • Smell the aroma of roasted dry coffee beans and ground coffee;
  • Brew the ground coffee (each cup has 8.2 grams of coffee and the cupper brews them with hot water of 93°C/200°F);
  • Break the floating coffee grounds by stirring the coffee while smelling the “escaping” initial aroma of brewed coffee;
  • Clean the foam on the surface of each cup;
  • Taste each cup by taking a sip of coffee from each cup and scoring it by its flavor, aftertaste, acidity and overall body taste.

After the cupping experience, Alex also told us about the journey to become a qualified coffee cupper. He showed us the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA)’s coffee cupping aroma identification training kit, which is a set of vials with essences of flowers, scents of butter, and smells of seeds. Accompanying it is Le Nez de Café by Jean Lenoir. He also gifted us what we call the Cupping Bible: Volume I.

Alex pouring water into the cupping cups (far left) Jennifer and Sapphire doing “Break” step (center left) Jennifer and Sapphire tasting the coffee like professional cuppers (center right) SCAA coffee cupping aroma identification training kit (far right)

Alex pouring water into the cupping cups (far left)
Jennifer and Sapphire doing “Break” step (center left)
Jennifer and Sapphire tasting the coffee like professional cuppers (center right)
SCAA coffee cupping aroma identification training kit (far right)

By the time of posting this entry, we have finished all the focus group interviews. HOORAH! For the next three weeks, we will proceed to our Paso III (the 3rd step of study) interviewing key actors at the local, regional, and national level in Jaén for one more week and in Lima for two weeks. Thus, next time we will be “reporting” from Lima! Hasta Lima!

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