Another month has flown by, and here we are in March already. We did however manage to get all of the materials for the solar coffee drying tents lined up, and they all have a waiting space in San Ramon for installation in May.
Meanwhile, we’re focused on the move. Just to bring you up to speed, our place in Lima is going to be needed by the owners, so we’ve decided to relocate home base in Peru to the cloud forest region of San Martin province and the tropical city of Tarapoto. Everything is lined up, we’re just waiting until the last possible moment to do the final wrap. It quite literally is a wrap, as we’ll be covering up everything that’s not in a box (and those too) in shrink wrap. Everything goes tomorrow!
We had wanted to go to Chanchamayo this trip personally, but there were many washed out roads & even impassable river crossings, so we just decided to focus on the growing season ahead (see Massive Flooding in the Peruvian Rainforest, and Torrential Rains & Mudslides Continue to Plague Peru.)
Real People, Really Good Coffee
Work continues on the book, “Real People, Really Good Coffee.” We return to the US on Wednesday, and the next couple of months will be spent writing, preparing slideshows for the growers (who are thrilled by the fact that their coffee is being sold abroad,) and ramping up our coffee buying (and selling) strategy for 2015. We will be focused on the Curibamba project (link below,) and trying to work with the growers to improve quality at every step in the coffee chain.
Besides creating our little “dog & pony” show, the work will continue with interviews, stories, and updates from coffee professionals as time allows.
The philosophy behind what we are doing is this: helping the farmers is not so much an act of charity, but rather a win-win for all. We get better coffee that our customers will pay a little more for, which in turn leads to better, more consistent earnings for the farmers and their families. This of course allows the grower to be able to spend the extra time to really pay attention to quality & still be able to feel it was worthy of the extra effort. It’s a virtuous circle where everyone plays a part. Meanwhile on our end of the coffee chain, we’re able to economically gather and bring to market micro-lots of specialty coffee & still make a living.
What Will this Year Bring
This year the focus will be on coffee quality over all.
For the growers, it’s educational workshops & our incessant “nagging” on proper fermentation and drying. We’ll be trying to get solar drying tents into as many hands as possible, and store the freshly dried coffee in Grainpro bags literally as soon as the harvested beans have reached proper humidity. More than anything, to try and reinforce the importance of everything in the chain of coffee custody which starts in the fields.
We’re currently shopping for a good coffee processor that will be local to the (San Ramon/La Merced) area, and also that has strict quality control & the machinery that we need for size classification etc. Reducing the overall rate of bean defects is a top priority.
We’re working to streamline the process & get the coffee out faster. We have good local transport from San Ramon to Lima, and with the conclusion of a new contract, US western ports should be back up to normal capacity by the time we make our first shipment this July. The long delays in 2014 definitely hurt us this past year, so a resolution was very welcome.
We’ve had the good fortune to encounter especially helpful people in the entire shipping process, both in Peru & in the US. This makes the experience all the less stress free and smooth. Skynet in Peru & OHL in the US made the entire customs process transparent & facilitated everything. Our warehouse partners in California, East Bay Logistics have been exceptional to work with, always communicative & ready to help us at any time.
We’ve learned a tremendous amount in the past year, and we’re learning more every day. One 30 year coffee veteran recently told us that he is amazed at how much that he still needs to learn. We’ll be at the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) conference in April. We’re looking forward to lectures and classes as well as the wonderful opportunity to make more friends in the industry.
Thanks for Your Support
We at A Little Further South thank you for your support of this fledgling venture. It may seem like a little thing, but I believe that a cup of really good coffee can make a difference. The very real farmers thank you, and it is from their efforts that comes the very best coffee.
© 2015 Ben Gangloff
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