18-19/02/2010 4th Ethiopian Coffee Roundtable

The 17th of February 2010 I arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia to participate at the 4th Ethiopian Coffee Roundtable “Branding & Marketing of Ethiopian Coffee“ and the 1st Ethiopian Cupping Caravan. The Ethiopian Coffee Roundtable is a meeting where Ethiopian coffee is promoted through presentations, market analysis, cupping and direct contact with the Unions & Coops.
My arrival in Addis was one day before the beginning of the Roundtable and as a result, I had the chance to watch the first DST Bidding Session. Let me say a dew words about the DST.

The DST is the Direct Specialty Trade and it was established by the ECX (Ethiopia Commodity Exchange). The DST bidding session is intended to provide a fair, efficient and transparent price discovery platform for facilitating direct exports by Ethiopia’s coffee producers to the international market.
Buyers are registered in order to participate at the DST bidding session and give a price offer. Buyers and sellers should be physically present or represented by an authorized agent. Prices quoted in the bidding session are FOB USD/pound based on exportable quantity. Bidding is conducted on a lot by lot basis. Each lot is identified by its DST lot number. The order of lots to be presented in the bidding session and the timetable of the bidding session is provided to buyers and sellers one day in advance of the bidding session. Prior to the start of each bidding session, the seller must provide the Exchange with a sealed offer reserve price that is the minimum acceptable price. The highest stated bid price prevails.
At the conclusion of the bidding session buyers and sellers receive a floor report providing details of prices, volumes, and counterparties of each of their agreed trades.

After the Bidding Session, Heleanna Georgalis, of Greek origin and President of Moplaco Trading CO LTD invited me to her company for a cupping with new crop coffees.

The next days, 19-20/02, during the Roundtable I had the chance to watch very interesting presentations and to meet other specialty roasters, mostly from the US, with whom on the 21st of February we were about to participate at the 1st Ethiopian Cupping Caravan.
During the last day of the Roundtable, unions and exporters presented new crop coffees that were cupped from us.

1st Cupping caravan 21 – 25 /2 2010

This 1st cupping caravan was organised by Boot Coffee Consulting & Training, financed by USAID and implemented by FINTRAC, while 18 people participated. The objective was to establish a direct contact between roasters from different parts of the world (US, Canada, Taiwan, Greece, Holland, Germany) and coffee producers at the cooperatives’ facilities, the coffee evaluation through cupping as well as the discussion with producers for problems that they face and for the new coffee culture.

We began our trip on the 21st of February with 2 vans and with a mobile cupping equipment for our daily needs. Our destination was Sidama & Yirgacheffe.
During our two daily cuppings (morning & afternoon), 4-5 different cooperatives participated. The cupping scores were based on the Q protocol, 27 washed coffees were cupped and I sun-dried coffee. All coffees were new crop coffees.

We were divided into 3 groups in each destination to prepare the cupping table, the coffee samples and to discuss – with Willem Boot in charge- with the producers and the Coops & Unions representatives the new coffee culture, while were also listening to their problems.

During the whole journey, children were repeating “you you you you you you” that sounded like a song!

All the coffees were scored 80 – 90 except one private coffee from the Aleta Wondo village that was scored by all of us more than 90, that was the best coffee of the trip.
The impressive thing is that the processing equipment in many cooperatives is not advanced at all; nevertheless, nature offers unique coffees in the Sidama & Yirgacheffe regions.
In Ethiopia there are thousands varieties that have not yet been “codified”, there may be over 50,000.

A special moment was when we visited the Aleta Wondo school which is financed by the sales of the coffee from that region.
The earnings from coffee finance directly education, health, water supply as well as quality of life for the community. Our company supports this social program since 2008 and buys coffee from the Aleta Wondo village, contributing to Common River’s cause.

Another special moment was when visited the Schilcho cooperative in the Sidama region because I had the chance to meet the producers of the coffee that we buy in Taf! Eleonora from marketing showed them the coffee brochures that we use to promote their coffee at Taf Coffee and they were really surprised with all the information to which consumers have access.

On 26 February, one day after our return from the cupping caravan, we had the chance to discuss with journalists that visited us at the hotel and to share our experiences and impressions regarding the coffees that we cupped and our trip to Sidama & Yirgacheffe.

Frankly, my trip to Ethiopia was a unique experience in terms of knowledge gained and interaction with the other roasters of the group and I am looking forward to the next one next year!

Yiannis Taloumis