• Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Amazon tribe protects rainforest through coffee and tech

    Less than half-a-century ago, first contact from the outside world was established with the indigenous Surui people of the Amazon rainforest. Ever since that fateful moment, the community has been facing an existential crisis as tree logging and mining companies seek to exploit their ancestral lands. Almir was just ten years-old when the loggers first arrived, but his fight to protect his people’s culture and territory has become a lifelong struggle for survival.   At the age of 17, Almir Narayamoga Suruí was the first person from his tribe to attend college when he inherited the title of Leader of the Suruí Paiter Indigenous People from his father. He grew…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Going the extra mile

    Behind the curtain of the coffee supply chain is a herculean challenge that requires efficient logistics backed up by an accurate flow of information. From the time it leaves the farm gate to the moment it is brewed, the bean has more than likely spent months in transit crossing borders, clearing custom checks and even continents. Out of the estimated 159m bags (60kg) of Arabica and Robusta coffee that was produced last year, a large volume will have been transported large distances by land, sea – and occasionally by air – from the country of production to its final destination in your cup.   Vollers, a family-owned business that has…

  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Hondouras’ coffee producers bridge the digital divide

    For a relatively small country, Honduras’ reputation as a producer of high quality Arabica coffee is a big success story. It is estimated that more than a quarter of the Central American country’s population – or approximately two million people – are engaged at some point in the seasonal coffee harvest between November and March each year. And since the turn of the late 20th century, production has steadily grown to the point that the country now ranks in the top ten of exporters of coffee globally. However, the Honduran coffee sector has also faced its fair share of setbacks and challenges. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated 80% of the…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Switzerland goes bananas for sustainable trade

    In the early 1970s, a group of forward-thinking women in Switzerland were brought together by a simple but far-reaching question. They wanted to know why bananas imported from the tropics were cheaper than apples grown in Europe. The question went to the heart of the exploitative trading practices of the banana trade and a movement was born. Led by social activist, Ursula Brunner, the Banana Women – as they came to be publicly known – continued to ask questions about unfair trade and how to address it. Their campaign grew to become the Working Group for a Fair Banana Trade – or Gebana for short.   Today, Gebana has diversified into other foodstuffs but…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain

    One family’s gift to the coffee world

    Still recovering from a brutal civil war in the 1980’s, the eventful story of coffee production in El Salvador stretches back to the early 19th century. It starts when Bourbon, a classic cultivar, was introduced to the Central American country in the early 1800s and first grown for domestic consumption. But the favourable climate, mountainous topography and volcanic-rich soils offered the perfect conditions and coffee production went on to become one the most important permanent cash crops for the countries’ economy.   Bound to the history of El Salvador’s coffee production is the celebrated Pacas variety, a natural mutation of Bourbon that has established a reputation for being high yielding,…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Opening the black box for a sustainable coffee future

    Supplying more than a third of the world’s coffee production each year, developments in Brazil have the potential to affect coffee markets worldwide. And due to its sheer size as a coffee producing powerhouse, the country has earned – rightly or wrongly – a reputation for quantity over quality. But the reality on the ground is a different picture as producers respond to market pressures by setting their sights on specialty, rather than a race to the bottom.   Henrique Dias Cambraia, the current generation of a century-old family tradition and Head of Fazenda Samambaia is one of the early pioneers of specialty coffee in Brazil. In 1999, he established San Coffee with a…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain

    Reinventing the coffee menu for restaurateurs

    The disconnect between the attention to detail in the kitchen and the coffee on the restaurant menu can be a bone of contention for many coffee professionals. After all, the disappointment of a bitter-tasting espresso rather than the sensory climax to conclude a gastronomic experience can be all too common. Considered by many in the hospitality industry as an afterthought, this disconnect is what drove Olga Sabristova of Die Kaffee Privatrösterei to make a difference.   “For a lot of restaurateurs, coffee is still a stepchild. It is prepared without love or passion and where nobody attaches great importance”, says Olga. Her fightback came after more than a decade’s worth of experience…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    We are what we drink

    Although times have changed since his grandfather and father ran a coffee house more than three decades ago, Honorio Garcia Delgado of Cafetaza has became one of the early pioneers in specialty coffee in the Basque country capital of Northern Spain, Vitoria.   “My father taught me about coffee culture”, says the current Spanish Barista and Micro-roaster Vice-Champion. “In Spain, we still drink torrefacto coffee and robusta – a lot of robusta. Yet, thirty years ago my grandfather and father had cafés and would only serve 100% arabica coffee, nothing else. This paved the way for my life in coffee”. Honorio followed in his father’s footsteps and opened his first cafeteria at…

  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Tim Tim makes a direct comeback

    When Dutch traders introduced the Typica cultivar to Indonesia in the 17th century, coffee production underwent a rapid expansion. This was aided by a particularly favourable microclimate near the equator and mountainous regions across its many islands. But in the late 1880s, disaster struck when coffee leaf rust swept through large swathes of the country; virtually wiping out the varietal with the exception of the higher slopes of Sumatra. In response, the hardier Robusta coffee plant species was cultivated in much of the low-lying regions and the species flourished to account for nearly three-quarters of the Indonesia’s total coffee total coffee production today.   However, standing tall amongst the twenty…

  • Demystifying the coffee value chain

    Digital dialogue in transparent trade gathers steam

    To catch a glimpse into the coffee value chain of the future, let’s take a quick look at some of the pioneering developments that are dramatically reshaping the landscape today. In a digital age of big data, powerful algorithms, just-in-time logistics and more interconnected communities globally than ever before, a revolution in coffee is taking place – and it is gathering a powerful head of steam.   In a climate of consolidation where eight major trading houses now control more than half (60%) of the world’s coffee bought and sold on the global market, there has been a tectonic shift in the supply chain that now seems unstoppable. Driven by…

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