From the Editor - Issue 6, 2014
In this issue STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International explores the pursuit of excellence at opposite ends of the supply chain.
Our cover story describes a remarkable advance in cultivating tea in colder climes.
The rocky vales of Scotland are yielding important insights into growing tea at higher elevations where insects pose less of a problem and globally there is less competition with food crops for land. Agricultural chemist Tam O’Braan is harvesting tea from 4,000 plants grown with the aid of biodegradable pellets that warm the soil, retain moisture, and deliver fertilizer
and micro nutrients. The pellets also reflect the sun’s rays to the underside of the plants.
Tea grown with these methods generates significantly greater antioxidants, a primary health benefit that will be described in detail next year in a peer-reviewed article in The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal. Jane Pettigrew traveled to Dalreoch farm near Amulree, Scotland to explain and explore the Wee Tea Farm (See pg. 58)
The Cup of Excellence (COE), a competition hosted by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), in October celebrated its 100th evaluation at the University of Viçosa in Brazil.
The milestone event brought together some of the most highly regarded coffee tasters in the world. They surprised the coffee community by awarding growers in the Piatã producing region the top five honors. In fact, Piatã and Matas de Minas growers took home the majority of the 21 awards, signaling a new destination for specialty coffee buyers who usually schedule their first visits to Brazil’s legendary Carmo de Minas region.
Since 1999 COE, in partnership with the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA), has shined a bright light on exemplary coffees from mostly unknown farms. BSCA executive director Vanusia Nogueira praised the program for having created “transparency to the farmer, rewarded them for their hard work, promoted our country’s great coffees globally, and is responsible either directly or indirectly for well over $120 million dollars in extra quality premiums… just in Brazil.”
ACE has recognized more than 2,000 winning coffees since its founding, said Susie Spindler, one of the three founders. “Cup of Excellence has revolutionized what is possible for coffee farmers,” said Spindler (See Kelly E. Stein’s account on pg. 16) At the other end of the supply chain STiR Tea & Coffee spent the past six months exploring how sorting specialty grade coffee by color provides roasters with a useful method for coaxing the perfect cup from good quality beans.
A series of experiments with the generous support of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, Nossa Familia Coffee, Loring Smart Roast, and Satake USA led to the discovery that sorting good coffee by hue and roasting the sorts individually can improve cupping scores by two or more points. This, in turn, can generate several thousand dollars in additional profits from an ICE lot of specialty coffee. Using the latest technology, once the coffee is defect-free, additional sorts can be accomplished in 1.5 hours per sort at a cost of $35 per hour or about $100 for two sorts. (See pg. 42 Uniformity: Sorting by Hue).
Sorting by hue does not guarantee a quality cup but it can assist roasters in removing beans that dilute the distinctive character of the coffee and it also permits them to blend uniformly colored beans prior to roast.
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