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ExpoEspeciales: Roundtable generates $1.6 million
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ExpoEspeciales: Roundtable generates $1.6 million
Roundtable participants met 39 buyers.
ExpoEspeciales was four intense days of simultaneous activities with one goal: to promote Colombian specialty coffee. Organized by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros FNC (National Coffee Federation), the Feria Internacional de Cafés
Especiales (ExpoEspeciales) was jointly produced with the Antioquia Government.
FNC, which is owned by 500,000 Colombian farmers, has worked with Antioquia governors for years but “this initiative is different as it presents to the market a regional Colombian coffee with its own identity and builds on the work we have done in other regions on terroirs and denominations of origin,” said FNC c.m.o. Luis F. Samper. During its 87-year history most of the work focused on infrastructure and farm support programs. “We also have worked in conflict resolution and environmental protection initiatives,” said Samper.
The show’s 70 exhibits covered 13,000 sq. ft. (1,200 m2). There were lectures and workshops and local crafts (jewelry and art) on display along with agricultural machinery and equipment. The event drew 7,000 attendees. Three quarters were small coffee growers seeking greater knowledge about coffee cultivation and processing and machine innovations. Coffee lovers were entertained with tastings, the national barista championship competition and food pairing activities.
ExpoEspeciales also hosted its first business roundtable, an opportunity for growers to personally present their harvest to 39 international buyers who purchased $1.6 million of coffee during the event. The 528 face-to-face meetings are expected to yield commercial agreements worth $10.8 million in the near future, according to organizers. Buyers from 15 countries participated.
“The business matchmaking forum offered us a platform to make direct trade with growers,” said Colombian Coffee Growers Federation commercial manager, Carlos Gonzalez. “We want to facilitate access by coffee producers to international markets in an efficient, business-friendly format, and it was deemed a success.”
Colombia has marketed its coffee collectively since the 60’s, a strategy that has not presented Colombia’s best estate and single-origin coffees to the world.
“This is our strategy to make our presence in the market stronger,” explains Luiz Genaro, manager of FNC.
The roundtable is a partnership between Proexport (the Colombian government’s promotion agency) and FNC. The matchmaking forum was a unique opportunity to make new contacts, allowing exporters to promote their products and discover new business opportunities, market needs, trends, and interests of potential clients.
“Colombia has the right conditions to successfully compete in the specialty industry: a widely recognized, high quality origin, an institutional framework that allows to overcome 21st century challenges such as climate change, and the ability to showcase different regions and high quality cup profiles that suit different industry needs,” concludes Gonzalez.
Competition for Colombia’s 9th National Barista Championship and the 6th National Cup Tasters Championship drew enthusiastic crowds as did the Academic Agenda, Foodpairing Show, and (hammer) auction of specialty coffee. Diego Fernando Campos was named Colombian Champion 2014 and will advance to the World Barista Championship next year.
The event’s 15 sponsors included supporters from several coffee associations, food service and governmental organs including SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje), and local governments.
Coffee scientists in the academy met to discuss techniques, research, and equipment to make the crop more productive and sustainable. These sessions brought to light the work of the Toma Café Program (www.tomacafe.org). Founded in 2010 by FNC, this project aims to encourage coffee consumption within Colombia, especially coffee prepared in the home.
Colombians drink about 200 cups of coffee annually; even a tea-drinking country like England averages 360 cups per person. Consumption is rising according to program manager Ana Maria Sierra, who attributes the positive results to support from producers and roasters and a growing network of allies for education.
Designation of origin, final product quality, sustainability, market trends, market research on internal consumption, introduction of new technologies, geographical indication, controlled fermentation techniques, certifications, and presentation of different coffee producing regions of Colombia were among the topics discussed. All culminating in a common denominator: specialty coffee as a commercial strategic route in the country.
Stimulating and increasing the coffee consumption includes strategies in the gastronomic market too. FNC introduced FoodPairing: science based food suggestions, which includes different ingredients pairings. The idea is to show how Colombia’s diverse coffee can enhance dining.
“We are not talking about coffee only as an ingredient,” explains FNC gastronomic project manager Marcela Jaramillo Asmar. “We are thinking more like wine in terms of enriching the coffee experience by pairings with food.”
FNC worked with a Belgium company whose specialists analyzed flavor characteristics of millions of ingredients via chromatography.
Juan Valdez first appeared in advertisements for the FNC in 1958. The goal was to distinguish 100% Colombian coffee from blends using coffee from other countries.
This information is contained in a database cross-referenced to aromatic data for coffees from six regions in Colombia: Santander, Sierra Nevada, Narinho, Cauca, and Huila along with a region representative of central Colombia. Culinary professionals and home chefs can access the basic information at www.foodpairing.com.
“This tool opens a sea of opportunities, harmonization, tastings, and sensorial experiences in the gastronomic world,” said Marcela.
“We hope that one day we will open a restaurant menu and find more options for coffee; not only cappuccinos and espresso. And why not find recommendations of food pairings with coffees from Narinho, Huila, Santander as an experience to enhance the palate?” exclaims Marcela.
The entire coffee chain was well represented in different workshops, lectures, tastings, and negotiations, cuppings in official spaces or in presentations that some exhibitors offered in their own booth.