In This Issue:
2. Some Words from Our Sponsors
3. Relationship Coffees by David Griswold
4. A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
5. Free Kona Coffee Seeds
6. Coffee Beans from Farm to Cup (A bird's eye tour)
7. Calling All Coffee Newsletters
8. Links to My Friends
Welcome, my friends, and thank you for subscribing. Lots of new
subscribers recently. Please contact me for past issues.
My listing of Past Issue Contents was a hit, judging from the
many requests I had. If you missed the two issues with the
listing, contact me for Issues #27 & #28, which have Issues
1-20. I will list more in coming issues.
I had originally planned to skip this week's issue, but I
changed my mind when my list server went down for a few days and
I had to skip a previous week.
Another good thing about cold weather is that you can cool down
your roaster much faster between batches if you set it outside
after you finish a batch. It really speeds up the roasting of
several batches, since most home roasters roast enough for an
8-10 cup pot at each roast. I roast in my garage so an easy
access to outside is convenient.
Some good ads this week for home roasters. FreshRoast,
Alpenrost, and Hearthware roasters are featured with very good
prices. Be sure to visit my sponsors and tell them where you saw
their ad. I'm about to start charging for ads and I want them to
get their money's worth.
My first scuba dive was awesome. I'm hooked. I was in Cozumel,
Mexico and looking at the want ads. I would move there tomorrow
if I could only convince my wife (and hit the lottery).
If you're going to Coffee Fest in Las Vegas February 1, please
contact me before the show. I'd like to say hello.
Lots of words in this issue, so find your reading glasses, get a
cup of coffee, and enjoy the articles.
My goal with this journal is to promote good coffee. I want to
learn, educate, and entertain. I publish every Friday via email
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2. Some Words From Our Sponsors
RoastYourOwn.com - The Home of Green Coffee Beans and Roasting
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the machines to roast them in. We feature Certified Organic,
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FreshRoast Home Coffee Roaster only $59! Precision just $109!
For your upscale restaurant or cafe, or for the true coffee
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For the latest in home roasting products visit
Alpenrost rotary electric 110 volt home or office, easy and safe
to operate, full warranty, regular $349.00 on sale thru Feb.2001
over stock price $299.00 price includes delivery in the
Coffee houses and retail coffee sellers, roast your own coffee
using the Santa Fe Roaster. Imagine offering your own line of
coffee for less than a $3,000 investment.
Check out the roaster at http://www.cafeman.com.
Click here for the lowest prices on Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee
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New from Granita Guru:
If you are in coffee business and serving frozen beverages, you
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You can use any of the following services and options:
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God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Katherine Lee Bates, 1895
3. Relationship Coffees by David Griswold
I looked at the massive coffee fields of the Brazilian Cerrado
and realized that small specialty washed arabica producers were
in deep trouble. Looking over the 3,000 foot savannah I was
witnessing one of the world's most productive and efficient
coffee regions. A combination of land, technology, and farming
know-how had created a growing zone that can easily out produce
the 10-12 million bags grown in the entire nation of Colombia,
if all available farmland was planted in coffee.
Giant overhead irrigation systems towered over flat rows of
coffee plants, rising ten to fifteen feet high. Each row of
coffee was planted roughly a tractor-length apart. This allowed
for the mechanical picking machines to shake down coffee beans
from the trees, obviously at a far lower cost than using manual
labor. "But how much lower is the cost?" I inquired.
The farmer showing me the plantation said, "I think we can make
money in a 60 cent market." He estimated his coffee production
costs at 35 to 40 cents on the pound. It was beyond impressive.
With massive planting in Brazil and the low cost of labor for
harvesting robusta in Vietnam, these two countries have the
ability to produce enough volume to drive down coffee exchange
prices to levels we had never seen before.
What makes the situation truly precarious for the specialty
coffee industry is that the world market C price also determines
the base upon which gourmet washed arabica coffees are bought
and sold. Notwithstanding a killer black frost that wipes out
the Cerrado, coffee prices over the long term don't look good
for growers, especially in the washed arabica locations. Indeed,
how will specialty growers in great coffee regions like Antigua,
Guatemala; Tarrazu, Costa Rica; or Pluma Hidalgo, Mexico,
survive against this kind of price competition?
While a gourmet roaster surely won't substitute the high grown
Pluma for a natural from Brazil's Cerrado, a conventional
roaster might choose to substitute that coffee for a prime
washed Mexican. And as greater volumes of coffee reach the world
market, it lowers prices on the commodity exchange. At this
writing, the world market prices for coffee are about 75 cents a
lb. This is a state of extreme concern, if not a state of
emergency, for specialty coffee growers. At 75 cents, even
assuming a 30 to 40 cent premium for quality, it is foolhardy to
think growers can afford to grow the quality coffee we demand
Free-market proponents say, "let the market do its magic." They
believe low prices rid the market of inefficient producers. It
is more likely that massive volumes from the world's top
producers will only force some prized estate coffees out of
business. Efficiency is one thing, but what about taste?
Will a day come when stellar farms like San Sebastian and El
Valle in Antigua, Guatemala, are plowed under to build tourist
condos and golf courses, because the premiums paid above the C
price for Antigua still can't keep those farms in business?
When the great coffees are gone, what kind of specialty business
will we have, offering consumers cups brewed from 69 cent/lb
Brazil naturals and Vietnamese robustas?
The fundamental problem is-despite our rhetoric that we
differentiate our business based on quality and taste of
specialty beans versus those of conventional coffee-we still use
the commodity pricing system to determine the value of our
specialty purchases. As long as the exchange market remains our
price discovery mechanism, it will be tough times ahead for
For this reason, a number of roasters, like Knox and Lindsey
Bolger of Batdorf and Bronson, are participating in a business
model that helps exceptional growers and their farms survive in
a sub-dollar market. This model is best described as
"relationship coffees." A relationship coffee is different from
the traditional green coffee purchase in several ways.
First, it is based on a direct connection between the end buyer
and the primary supplier. Second, the price discovery mechanism
for a relationship coffee is often not tied to the C market, but
is based instead on what it actually costs to produce
"Relationship coffees are about both parties doing what it takes
to produce great coffee, and getting that special story to the
consumer," says Bolger of Batdorf and Bronson. "And it's about
building up long-term relationships while doing so."
A relationship coffee is also distinct from what are know as
"cause related coffees." A cause-coffee is focused on specific
issues related how it is grown, such as shade-grown or organic,
or the socio-economics surrounding its production and access to
the market, like fair trade. A cause related coffee might also
be a way for roasters and consumers to support or speak to
issues that are ancillary to the coffee itself, such as bird
research, saving elephants, or even political policy.
But unlike a direct relationship coffee, cause-coffees are often
purchased through traditional (i.e. the grower is anonymous)
channels. More often than not, the roaster does not know exactly
who the grower of the coffee is, or where the farm is located.
And the coffee is usually purchased based on a price
differentially linked to the C market. Sometimes the premium
goes toward the special cause rather than the coffee itself.
Still, cause-coffees are good and common examples of socially
Relationship coffees often support a cause, but carry the
additional attribute of a direct grower-to-buyer relationship.
"Relationship coffees can be inclusive of causes-such as a
common concern to keep heirloom cultivars in production, or to
support the building of an ecological wet mill," says Lindsey
Bolger, who purchases green coffee for Batdorf and Bronson. "But
a relationship coffee has the additional benefit of concern for
how to sustain the economic efforts of the farm through pricing
that reflects the excellence and true value of the coffee."
A relationship coffee is built upon the following elements:
Fixed price for the product not dependent on the C market price.
Best of the farm's harvest is guaranteed for the relationship
buyer. Purchases are from a specific grower, or grower group.
Limited quantity of excellent product is available, often sold
under an "exclusive." Grower (or exporter/importer) provides
marketing content and support for buyer. Periodic visits by
roasters to grower and vice versa to understand business issues
The relationship coffee model works like any business
partnership: both buyer and sellers share a common mission and
commitment to the product's quality. There is a level of
transparency in the business dealings, and if logistic support
is provided for the grower and buyer from an exporter, miller
and importer, they must also provide transparency to the
equation. The buyer must be willing to take risks, like
providing the farmer with the pre-financing. Most importantly,
the buyer must be willing to pay the true value of the quality
they desire in purchasing the best of the crop.
"What defines a relationship coffee is that it requires a closer
link by the roaster and importer to a specific producer," says
Bolger. "In some models, like fair trade, they give you a story
about a 'typical' producer in Nicaragua or a hypothetical farm.
But with a relationship coffee, you know a name, someone that
over time you can call a friend."
Good examples of relationship coffees include:
La Minita, Costa Rica
Started in the mid-80s to market the prized beans from this
privately held estate farm in Costa Rica, La Minita has always
been the bellwether of coffees that fetch a price far above the
C market. Over the years, hundreds, if not thousands of roasters
who buy the coffee have gone to Costa Rica and stayed on the
farm to discuss the crop with the proprietor, Bill McAlpin,
witness how the coffee is grown, and buy bags of the limited
Antigua, El Valle, Guatemala
For several years Lindsey Bolger of Batdorf and Bronson, and
Kevin Knox, green buyer of Allegro Coffee have been directly
supporting the El Valle farm of Cristina Gonzales. A
combination of pre-financing, a fixed price near the $2 level
based on the farm's cost of production plus profit, and annual
visits has made this relationship coffee the envy of many
growers in the region who seek the same direct connection and
security. Working together, the two roasters are able to buy El
Valle's entire crop, one of the finest coffees in Central
America, and have clear lines of communication with the Gonzales
family through their annual visits to the farm. Most striking,
perhaps, is that not only do the two companies split El Valle's
limited crop of three containers, but encourages El Valle to
share some of her crop for national promotional purposes. For
example, ANACAFE often spotlights El Valle as the prototypical
Classic Antigua and roasts it for sampling at international
tradeshows and the Guatemalan airport coffee bar.
Haitian Bleu, Dominican Republic
Several years ago, Coffee Bean International co-founder Gary
Talboy served as a consultant for a coffee farmer project in the
Dominican Republic. Talboy, a former SCAA Director, helped
coordinate a consortium of roasters into a buyer group for this
new Dominican coffee. With support from USAID (United States
Agency for International Development) Talboy helped the growers
strengthen their co-ops, develop quality control, and provide
marketing support for the roasters and retailers. Most
innovative was to build into the program a price structure that
was divorced from the C market price. Roasters who visited the
project became quick converts.
Other examples exist, such as Hacienda La Esmeralda from
Boquete, Panama, and the relationship coffee between La
Esmeralda farm owner Price Peterson and coffee buyer Pete Rogers
of JBR (East Indies Coffee/Organic Coffee Company) of San
Leandro, California. The Rogers have provided Peterson with
fixed prices, helped build schools and make frequent visits to
"Essentially, when roasters and producers have common values,
the potential for a relationship coffee exists," says Bolger.
"But it only becomes a reality when both sides take some
concrete steps to build those values into a special buying
relationship that connects them."
"All I want is the same thing you want. To have a nation with a
government that is as good and honest and decent and competent
and compassionate and as filled with love as are the American
people." Jimmy Carter, 1976
4. A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
-Words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
Each of us builds our own prison or our own palace.
Every conscious thought, every utterance of our lips, every
interaction of ours with the world leaves its imprint upon an
aura that surrounds each of us and stays with us wherever we go.
All life, all blessing, all that is transmitted from Above must
pass through that aura. Even if it be the greatest of blessings,
the aura may distort it into ugly noise. Or it may resonate and
amplify it even more.
An aura of beauty attracts beauty. An aura of love attracts
love. An aura of life and joy attracts unbounded light.
Only you are the master of that aura. Only you have the
permission and the power at any moment to transform your
thoughts from the ugly to the beautiful, your words from bitter
to sweet, your deeds from death to life.
And so too, your entire world.
Brought to you by http://www.chabadonline.com/magazine
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to
study mathematics and philosophy." John Adams, 1780
5. Free Kona Coffee Seeds
If you missed our offer, I still have some seeds left, so please
contact me and ask for Issue #20. It has instructions for
ordering your seeds and for growing them into you own mini
"If forced to choose between the penitentiary and the White
House for four years.I would say the penitentiary, thank you."
William T. Sherman, 1864
6. Coffee Beans from Farm to Cup (A bird's eye tour)
So how does one combine a passion for coffee and rainforests? A
brief tour one model farm may shed some light on the power you
hold to encourage conservation through your purchasing
Shade Farm - Finca El Jute is a mid-sized farm about 60 miles
outside of Guatemala City. The base of the farm lies above 4500
feet and spreads upward to occupy most of its watershed. Looking
at the farm from the ridge above, it is impossible to
distinguish between the coffee growing areas and the natural
forest. Giant shade trees stand guard over the coffee. These
fertile and wildlife-friendly coffee plots combined with the
considerable natural forest remaining on the farm provide ideal
habitat for a range of wildlife species-birds, insects, mammals,
Because the farm is located above 4500 feet, the coffee produced
on Finca El Jute is given the highest grade by Guatemala's
national coffee association, ANACAFE. This grade, called
Strictly Hard Bean, commands a premium in North American and
European markets for its superior flavor characteristics. Beans
grow slowly in the cool temperatures and have time to develop
the unique qualities that characterize high-grown Guatemalan
coffee. The growth of these beans is further influenced by the
shade of the forest canopy, which allows them to ripen
naturally. Many expert coffee tasters say that shaded coffee
tastes better than the modern, high-tech coffees grown in open
The coffee beans produced on Finca El Jute earn an ecological
and social premium as well. It was the first farm in Latin
America awarded the ECO-O.K. seal of approval, an honor bestowed
on farms that meet a strict set of environmental and social
criteria developed by the Conservation Agriculture Network.
Primary among these criteria is the requirement that coffee be
grown beneath a diverse canopy of native tree species --
providing habitat for everything from frogs to howler monkeys,
orchids to caterpillars.
The managers of El Jute must also protect the soil and forest
resources on the farm, reduce or eliminate chemical use by
implementing integrated pest management (IPM), and control
stream pollution by making improvements at the farm's coffee
milling facility. And certified farms such as El Jute must care
for their workers by paying livable wages, providing access to
medical care and minimizing exposure to agrochemicals through
modern management training and education. In addition, farms
much implement systems to reduce, reuse and recycle -- such as
using coffee pulp as a source of organic fertilizer.
Once a year, coffee plants will flower, covering their branches
with beautiful, delicate white flowers. These flowers, if
pollenized, will bear coffee fruit (called cherries, for their
similarity in size and color). Each cherry contains two seeds
(coffee beans). The cherry will ripen to a bright red color
before it is hand-picked from the branch. The average coffee
tree will produce 4,000 coffee beans per year. El Jute employs
hundreds of seasonal workers to pick the coffee cherries from
the trees each year. Most of the farm's workers have worked at
El Jute all their lives, some for three generations. Many
workers and their families live on the farm -- where they are
provided decent housing, space to grow vegetables and a medical
To remove the coffee beans, the cherries are put through a
depulping machine and deposited into large tanks with water to
ferment for a number of hours. The fermented beans are then
dried on open-air patios in the sun for several days. The drying
beans must be regularly turned to prevent uneven drying. Often,
the beans are also dried mechanically, using large commercial
Beans from El Jute, after being milled, dried and bagged, are
transported to markets in North America and Europe. Coffee
brokers in the coffee consuming countries endeavor to sell the
beans to discerning coffee roasters willing to pay slightly more
for these great tasting, shade-grown beans. Upon sale, the
premium added by virtue of its ECO-O.K. certification goes
directly to the owner of El Jute, Mr. Fausto Aguilar, giving him
direct financial incentive to maintain the traditional coffee
growing practices that he and his family have practiced since
the turn of the century.
Published with kind permission of Rain Forest Alliance
"I do not create; I merely pass on the wisdom of those who have
gone before." Confucius
7. Calling All Coffee Newsletters
Please do our readers and me a favor and send me links to all
the coffee newsletters you know about.
Send the links to: mailto:email@example.com
Coffee/Tea Guide at About
The Coffee Chronicle
African Coffee Newsletter
Coffee Chronicle TM
"There are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy,
especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing."
Herbert Hoover, 1947
8. Links to My Friends
Visit the links page on our website to get the latest links to
both coffee related and unrelated sites of interest. Check it
out. You might find some old friends and make some new ones.
"A flaw in a diamond stands out while a blemish on a pebble goes
unnoticed." Rebekah Baines Johnson, 1958
Tell me what you think. What do you want more of..less of...what
would you change, add, or delete? mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Please direct all inquiries, comments, article submissions and
suggestions to: Robert Badgett mailto:email@example.com
(c) Copyright 2000 Robert L. Badgett. All Rights Reserved.
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