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Papua New Guinea's Coffee Context I wrote a brief blog before travelling to Papua New Guinea for the first time. Now I am back after a short trip to the Highlands, and thought that my armchair article (here) could benefit from a recap. There are a few points I made which deserve different emphasis. Not so much misstatements as understatements, lacking in context. And so, those of you interested in smallholder specialty coffees from PNG, read on for context. --  Jake Elster, Crop to Cup Coffee Importers. August 5th 2016.  on airstrip coffee and geography Unlike other coffee-growing areas I’ve been too, once you get there, PNG is incredible accessible. Ninety percent of the country’s coffee comes from the Highlands region, which stretches between the Southern Highlands, Western...
Papua New Guinea's Coffee Denominator The coffee denominator How to talk coffee in Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (PNG) has over 800 languages. This fact is cited so often because it’s one simple phrase that speaks to the island’s incredible diversity of language and culture, in crops and climates. To describe such a country risks oversimplification, but if you were looking for one word to describe modern-day PNG then ‘Kofi’ might not be a bad choice. It means ‘coffee’ in almost every local language (such as Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu), employs one out of every three people in PNG and is the sole source of income for up to 400,000 households. Coffee cuts through clans, languages and geography, connecting remote regions to one...
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Reflections: seeing through the smoke surrounding Sumatran coffee My mind is deep into ‘Terminator Genesis” –as intriguing an idea as time-travel can be, it inevitably just annoys me in films. Jake gestures to the window. We’re descending into Medan, I squint to see that we’re under the cloud-cover, but still in midst of a smog, hundreds-of-feet-thick. It leaves a trail of itself, stretching out far to the south of us. We knew what we we’re getting into. But like many things in Sumatra, the scale was humbling. We’re arriving in Sumatra’s largest recorded wildfire. Dense peat ground cover has been set aflame by would-be farmers. Strike the match, and leave the area. Come back a month or three later. Valla, a tree-less, tillable earth greets you. Now plant...
Importing the Improbable - coffees from Western Uganda At Crop to Cup we got our start in coffee trying to make a name for specialty coffees from Uganda. Said no one ever. It wasn’t smart, it wasn’t easy, but it led to a fruitful learning curve. We focused on traceability, driving lot separation down in pursuit of the best beans. And in support of our mantra - that ‘good coffee comes from good people’ - we made headway, year over year. If you’re reading this email you’ve seen some of the names: Sebei: Sipi, Kapchorwa. Bugisu: Gibuzaale, Manafwa, Buginyanya, Bulaago. These are all ways of slicing up coffees that come from Mt. Elgon. Coming from a time when Ugandan Bugisu AA was the best you’d see out of...
INTRODUCING BULAAGO  FROM MT. ELGON IN EASTERN UGANDA These farmers produce some oft he best coffee on the mountain. That's Mt. Elgon in Eastern Uganda, right across the border from Kenya. This is the heart of coffee country, and Bulaago is one community that has been doing right by coffee for generations. While these farmers never lack for buyers, they want the recognition and reward that comes from putting that extra effort into their gardens. And they don't their coffee mixed before it gets to the final customer.    Those were the driving forces behind the creation of the Bulaago Coffee Farmers Association (BuCoFA).  BuCoFA operates a collection center where they separate farmer lots, measure moisture and store all parchment in...
INTRODUCING BIFTU GUDINA  World class coffee from Ethiopia's Agaro Region Biftu Gudina Cooperative operates in a remote pocket of the Agaro Region in Western Ethiopia.  There are no all-season roads, so as recently as 2012 farmers would walk their cherries over 5 miles to the nearest town, Beshesha.  On the way, cherry would bruise, break and over-ferment resulting in poor prices.  When the Coop was founded in '12 it immediately built a wet-mill and constructed a gravel road connecting the mill to Beshesha - with assistance from Technoserve.  Today 155 members within a 2.5 mile radius deliver cherry to their own washing station.  Meticulous processing leads to a floral, bright, honeyed cup that shines as an example of world-class coffee from Ethiopia’s western...

August 07, 2015
Category: in Monthly Updates
LATIN AMERICAN MICRO-LOTS  //  SIGN-UP FOR SAMPLES SPOT COFFEE OFFERS  //  AUGUST 2015 JULY UPDATE  | There was a time when summers were slow, right? Not this one. July was a big month for new coffees and cupping events, and we are only picking up speed as we enter August. With so much going on let's start by sharing the biggest news first. GUATEMALA, HONDURAS & MEXICO MICRO-LOTS are available through a first-of-its-kind partnership with Axiom Coffee Ventures. That's 32 lots of 2 to 70 bags each arriving mid-August at the Oakland Annex. We initially learned about Axiom through their expertise in helping emerging farmer groups in Central America to access pre-crop financing. Later we learned they have Q labs in Guatemala,...
THE RETURN OF LEYVA MANCILLA ABOVE THE TOWN OF ZIHUATANEJO IN GUERRERO, MEXICO ARE THE SIERRA MADRE DEL SUR MOUNTAINS Back in the 1960's a fisherman by the name of Caesar Galeana Sortiz left the coast in search of better work. He eyed the mountain range behind him - these are the foothills between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains. Sortiz knew that coffee was popular further south in Oaxaca, and saw opportunity to bring coffee home.   Within a few years Caesar and a handful of his neighbors would make the 12 hour hike up to tend to their new fincas, staying up there for weeks at a time, having to make-do with local resources for food,...
INTRODUCING BUKONZO ORGANICS FAIR-TRADE ORGANIC ARABICAS FROM UGANDA'S RWENZORI MOUNTAINS On the slopes of Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains, on the western border with the Congo's Kivu region, you will find 1,200 members of the Bakonzu tribe who have come together to form Bukonzo Organics (BOCU). These are amongst Kasese's first farmers to produce Fair-Trade Organic Certified coffees. While the region once had a rich history in producing Natural Arabicas, farmers had to leave their homes in the 1990s, returning to find their coffee trees uprooted.   Now the farmers of Bukonzo Organics are back, and organized. They have created 12 micro-washing stations to help with quality control and lot separation. They achieved their Fair Trade and Organic certifications after three years of work on...

July 07, 2015
Category: in Monthly Updates
VIEW OFFERINGS //  JUNE 2015 JUNE UPDATE  |  In June we welcomed three lots from Uganda Bukonzo Organics to the Crop to Cup family. I encourage anyone to get to know this community and it's coffee, as it's going to be on the specialty radar for years to come. This, however, was their first export to the US...and while we are very pleased with the cup, we have noticed some slight grading issues that we'll work to address for the 2016 harvest.  Don't let that get in the way of getting to know these great FTO options from a community that's on the rise.  Buthale & Burangwa (FTO) - 84 // cocoa, cranberry, caramel, bright, thin body Nayabirongo (FT) - 85 // fig, raisin,...