A Better Brew
Fair Trade USA is pleased to announce its participation in the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual event this April. To commemorate the occasion, we’re taking you behind the scenes at SCAA and highlighting the strong, dedicated and hardworking farmers behind Fair Trade coffees. Follow us on the blog and social media all week to meet the producers, roasters, and baristas behind Fair Trade coffee. Grab a cup of joe and read on!
The average American drinks over two coffee-based beverages each day. No surprise there, right? Whether it's a shot of espresso or flavored Frappuccino (hold the whip) we love our coffee.
For members of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), this love is rooted in more than caffeine addiction or the need for a quick pick-me-up. To them coffee is an art. As such it can’t be described as merely “good” or “bad;” what is sought after are clean, sweet and consistent coffees with notes of fruit and chocolate and distinct types of acidities. Experienced coffee “cuppers” know how to tell exactly how your coffee was produced. And they will do just that during a series of cuppings at SCAA’s annual event, running April 14 to 17.
This year, Fair Trade USA will host its third annual cupping at SCAA. Cuppings are the process through which coffees from different regions, varieties and even roast levels are graded and defined. Professional tasters, called “cuppers,” analyze each coffee’s aroma, fragrance and flavor. They then compile complex flavor and aroma profiles that are used to gauge the quality of each sample. The goal of most cuppings is to discover new and exciting coffees of quality. For Fair Trade USA, the cuppings are also a platform to showcase the people behind the coffees.
One such group that will be featured in the cuppings is the coffee cooperative Ketiara. Nestled in Aceh, Indonesia, where women seldom have a voice or visibility in the business sphere, Ketiara is unique. It was founded by widows of the Aceh civil war and remains sixty percent women-owned. These women have become respected leaders in the local coffee community thanks to their wise uses of Fair Trade premiums, or community development funds earned for every pound of coffee sold. Trainings funded with premium dollars have allowed the cooperative to offer microlots – small quantities of quality differentiated and high value coffees – to their roaster partners. Ketiara has also invested premium dollars in wet-milling processing facilities, designed to extract pulp and other impurities from the beans. In addition, Fair Trade USA partnered directly with Ketiara over a period of three years (2012-2015) as part of its Coop Link Program to invest in productivity trainings and quality improvement projects. The result of these investments? Higher yields, higher quality beans and higher market prices for members of Ketiara, and a better cup of coffee for you.
The next time you go for a cup of coffee (and heck, it can’t be that long until it’s time for Cup #2), make it Fair Trade. Whether your coffee is “sweet,” “fruity,” or even just “good,” there’s an empowered group behind the flavor. And that’s something we can all love.