August 2020

In February we understood that we wouldn’t be able to buy coffee as we usually do this year and we have made a lot of changes. One of the biggest was to cancel our competition in Nariño and rely on Lucia (our person on the ground there) and the Condor team (the exporter we work with) to direct-buy from 24 farmers we know and have been working with for the last seven years.

The lock-down in Colombia happened in March and is expected to continue through to September. Airports and borders are closed and there is a curfew in place from 4pm to 5am during the week and no travel permitted on the weekends. This has restricted the movements of all farmers trying to harvest their crops and get them to market. The farmers delivering to us all have documents issued with an ‘intention of purchase’ which outlines who they are, where they are going, and the amount of coffee they are moving. We help any farmer who can’t get back home before curfew with accommodation and transport if needed.

Once the farmers arrive at the coffee laboratory and warehouse they have their temperatures taken, have access to hand washing facilities, and a designated area to wait while their coffee is graded, profiled and bought. The farmers are understandably nervous coming into town; there aren’t many cases in the smaller villages and there is a real and warranted fear that going into towns could mean exposure to the virus.

At time of writing Lucia has almost completed all our buying in Nariño for this crop. Thankfully as we have been able to keep our online shop open over our own lock-down, and keep supply running to our shops and wholesale customers, we have been able to buy all the coffee we were contracted for and a bit more. We are really grateful to all the farmers for making the commitment to deliver to us and we look forward to the coffees arriving, usually just in time for Christmas. The effort everyone has put in over the last seven years of competitions and the work that Lucia has done during this time means that we know and have faith in the quality of the coffee that is delivered.

At the same time as the Nariño crop is processed, the Brazil one happens too. Typically we would spend a couple of weeks tasting with the team at Carmo Coffee in Brazil just before or just after our competition. This year all the samples are being sent to our roastery and we have just confirmed our first container of coffee which will be arriving in Autumn. We really enjoy the Yellow Bourbon, pulped natural process coffees from the Carmo area and there are some beauties arriving full of caramel sweetness and chocolatey goodness. Thinking of sweetness and goodness, the new crops from Suke Quto (Ethiopia) and Ndaroini (Kenya) arrived a couple of weeks ago and are both tasting super. We work with Trabocca in both countries and are proud to participate in their industry shaping projects. There is a lot of information about both sources on trabocca.com including nascent block-chain traceability for the coffees from Suke Quto.

Next month we will have an update on the new crop coffees we have chosen from Bolivia, but that’s it for now. If you’re taking a summer holiday this month, here or abroad, stay safe and have a lovely time.

With our thanks and best socially distanced wishes,

Monmouth