Lets Talk Coffee has just concluded in Puntareanas, Costa Rica. A memorable event, hosted by Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, that brings coffee producers from all over the world together with Roasters and Bankers from all over the world together to talk about coffee and issues at origin and the solutions that are possible.

This was my first year to attend Lets Talk Coffee as an invited guest and I certainly look forward to future events. What an awesome way to get people together and talking the same language. The language of cupping coffee, the language of finance, the language of Spanish and even the language of Swahili from our friends in Tanzania. With translation available at all times communication this weekend was exceptional. But enough about the languages, I really want to tell you about the newest project we at PTs Coffee Roasting Co. are going to be involved.

It’s one of Sustainable Harvest’s newest developments to help coffee farmers living near the Gombe region of Tanzania, in a place called Kigoma. Sustainable Harvest has cuppers, agronomists and training staff that help the 2,700 growers learn how to create coffee that meets the standards of the specialty market, and get better prices for their work in the process. As a result, the farmers are being asked to protect the region around the Gombe chimpanzee reserve from further deforestation. The remote area of the Gombe region of Tanzania is a perfect coffee growing environment, but farmers traditionally used inefficient methods to soak, ferment and pulp their beans, wasting precious water and resulting in coffee of inconsistent quality that sold for a low price. With poor incomes from coffee, farmers were tempted to convert their plantations to other crops, cutting down the shade cover in the process. This results in encroachment on the Gombe Park and threatens its chimpanzee population – one of the few remaining in Africa. While the chimps can coexist peacefully with coffee, other crops such as corn or cassava result in a loss of tree cover and increased soil erosion; these crops also attract the chimps, bringing them and humans into conflict. To combat these issues, Sustainable Harvest introduced three technologies to increase the income of these coffee farmers:

Water-efficient coffee mills (“eco-pulping” machines) will enable the farmers to process coffee at a consistently high quality with relatively little input of scarce water;

Cupping equipment (for roasting and tasting samples) will enable them to appreciate the quality and value of their coffee; and,

Barcode readers linked to computer databases will allow them to record their quality assessments, manage coffee stores, and communicate with buyers and roasters outside of Tanzania, empowering the growers to manage their production for maximum profit.

The project was made possible in part by a grant from the Lemelson Foundation. The grant to Sustainable Harvest Specialty Coffee Importers and a program-related investment to EcoLogic Finance to introduce new coffee technologies to the Kanyovu growers’ cooperative in the Gombe region of eastern Tanzania. The technologies will improve the cooperative’s processing and handling of specialty coffee, increasing incomes while simultaneously encouraging protection of local biodiversity, including a chimpanzee reserve. A win win opportunity and PTs Coffee will be one of the few select companies to be involved with this project and offering the coffee in the United States. A big thank you to Allegro Coffee for sharing with us on this project.

The coffee should be available by December 1 and available through the holiday season.

Regards from Costa Rica

Jeff