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On the Floor at COTECA
Falk Ziegler, Europe representative of MamboCoffee (Tanzania) coffee at his COTECA stand.
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On the Floor at COTECA
Bruno V. Bruchhof behind his Café Gripinasspecialty coffee stand (Puerto Rico).
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On the Floor at COTECA
Sandra and Carlos Roberto Guillén, owners ofFinca La Dalia plantation (El Salvador).
COTECA Hamburg featured a diverse range of local and international exhibitors. For quite a handful of them it was either their very first international exhibition, or at least their first appearance on European or German soil. Their sensational offerings were vivid testimony to the global trend among increasingly sophisticated consumers who are turning their backs on run-off-the-mill coffee blends and instead focusing on the subtle tastes and aromas of single-estate and specialty coffees.
India may still be better known for its fine teas, but the Coffee Board of India (CBI) was already established in 1942, and during the past decades it has succeeded in transforming the country into a globally important coffee exporter. In 2011/2012 India shipped 333,181 tons of coffee worth $1 billion, its highest volume ever (all dollars in this report are US).
“Our largest export markets in 2013 and 2014 were Italy, Germany, Belgium, and the Russian Federation,” said director of finance and promotions, Aarti D. Gupta. “But we are also trying to explore new markets like South Korea, Australia, and Japan.” At CBI’s COTECA booth, STiR was able to experience how good Indian coffees really have become by attending a tasting that showcased the winners of this year’s Flavor of India Fine Cup Awards. Among these were truly impressive cups - primarily from the south-western state of Karnataka - such as the remarkable robusta from Harley ‘B’ Estate, a mind-blowing arabica specialty coffee by Badnekhan Estate (Devon Plantations & Industries Ltd.); the wonderful arabica produced by Badra Jagalikal Estates; and the subtle robusta specialty coffee of Devaracadoo Estate (Tata Coffee Ltd.). “Based on feedback from exporters who participated in COTECA together with Board delegates, the trade show was a very fruitful event for the Indian coffee industry”, according to CBI’s chairman Jawaid Akhtar.
Indonesia was represented with a large integrated booth exhibiting the country’s teas as well as coffees. Tati Büsing-Kock moved to Germany in 1996, where in 2012 she started her coffee import and distribution company IndoTatis UG. Today she distributes arabica and robusta crops grown by smallholders in the Indonesian regions of Aceh Gayo, Linthong, Sidikalang, Sinabung, Bali, Java, and Papua to customers in Germany and the European Union. “I recognized a very strong interest in organic coffee particularly in Germany, where demand is growing rapidly,” she said. Büsing-Kock also regards her company as a pioneer in Europe for single-estate coffees from Sidikalang, and Sinabung, and she told STiR that COTECA was an excellent opportunity for her to introduce these varieties to potential customers.
Vietnamese specialty coffees were represented at COTECA by Ho Chi Minh City-based trading firm Phucsinh Corporation. Yemen’s Al-Ezzi Industries Co. Ltd. showcased its intriguing range of grower-authenticated arabica coffees under the slogan “The Thoroughbred Arabica.”
Ethiopia, one of the oldest coffee suppliers in the world was represented by Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union Ltd. (SCFCU). The co-operative was founded in 2001 and today represents more than 80,000 farmers from southern Ethiopia’s Sidama region. SCFCU’s output is approximately 10,000 tons of high quality organic Arabica per year. Nearly the entire crop is shade grown in low density plantations. The coffee has been certified by Fairtrade International since 2003. SCFCU exports its extraordinarily high quality coffees directly to the international market.
Further down the East African coast lies Tanzania, whose highlands are ideal for cultivating the precious bean. The country’s Mambo Coffee Co. Ltd. was established in 1997 and primarily trades in organically grown and Fairtrade single-origin and micro lot arabica and robusta coffees. Since early 2014 the company has been represented in Europe by its German partner, Falk Ziegler. During the 2013/2014 season he imported 30 containers and projects volume to increase to 45 containers in 2014/2015. “The overall trend in Germany, the UK, and the EU is shifting towards single-origin and micro lot coffees, because the consumer numbers going for specialty coffees are rising,” Ziegler explained. “[Demand for] organic and Fairtrade produce is increasing fast, too, as policy changes in European countries necessitate sustainable production and trading practices in the entire supply chain.” He added that he plans to also launch another Tanzanian specialty coffee brand, Kiliman, in the near future.
At COTECA it was just a brief walk from Africa’s stands to reach those of Central and South America. A very welcome addition at this year’s event was the booth of El Salvador’s Finca La Dalia, owned and managed by Carlos Roberto Guillén and his wife, Sandra. A family business since the early 1900s, the Guilléns showcased their outstanding Bourbon and Pacamara coffees. “The way how we grow and produce our coffee is a time-honored family tradition,” the visibly proud couple said. “We always aim for the best, because that´s what we were taught [by our forefathers]. “My finca is located at 1,400 meters in the western part of El Salvador on the slopes of the Apaneca Ilamatepec mountain range, and is blessed with mineral-rich volcanic soil that yields wonderful coffee quality,” Carlos Guillén added.
Café Britt has been Costa Rica’s best-selling coffee brand for the past 29 years, holding several international certifications. But it was only in 2014 that it finally made its big jump across the Atlantic to Europe, where it is now being marketed and distributed primarily through e-commerce retail sales by Germany-based import and export company Lösung CR, co-owned by Alonso Rodríguez Villalobos and Adriana Pfleger Meza. “But we intend to soon expand to wholesale customers - such as retail gourmet stores and specialty HORECA clients – in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Austria, England, and Switzerland,” explained Villalobos. “Since we are located in Germany, we have easy access to transportation to supply potential customers located in neighboring countries. Our coffee is a single-origin product and we guarantee what is inside each bag: 100% Arabica grown, matured, roasted and packed in Costa Rica.”
A COTECA-first, coffee from the Caribbean U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was represented by import company Café Ponce PR UK and its German owner, Bruno V Bruchhof. The firm showcased its star product, Café Gripinas, a single-origin coffee from Hacienda Gripinas, an estate located at 1,300 meters at Cerro Punta, the highest peak of Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Mountains. Other Puerto Rican specialty coffees introduced by the included several Bourbon varieties like Orange Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, and Mundo Novo.
“Considering that rust disease continues to affect other Central American coffee producers, and that there is a limited supply of coffee worldwide, the Puerto Rican government decided the time was right to support Puerto Rican coffee farmers,” Bruchhof explained.
COTECA visitors could sample Peruvian coffee at a booth sponsored by the Hamburg branch of the country’s Economic and Trade Bureau. While the products of its giant South American neighbor Brazil are well known, Peru coffees are still a little under-promoted, so the COTECA appearance was most welcome.
The exhibition hall was naturally dominated by tea and coffee companies but one of the most interesting ancillary products was the ingenious range of vacuum-sealable TightVac storage containers for coffee and tea marketed by Czech Republic-based Tightpac Europe (a subsidiary of Tightpac America). Whole bean or ground coffee is notoriously difficult to store for longer periods without losing much of its aroma. TightVac jars and containers, in many sizes and designs feature a simple valve that creates a vacuum inside the container as soon as the lid is closed, effectively protecting the aroma for months.