Cupping matters to farmers.

For six weeks this summer, the Liga Masiva team is based in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, partnering with our organic coffee farmers on a series of coffee excellence projects. As part of this project, we conducted the farmers’ first ever cupping of their coffee to introduce them to its smells and flavors.  In Part 1 of this series, we provide commentary on the tasting.  This section, Part 2 will outline why this coffee cupping might just revolutionize the way trade works for small-scale farmers.  Part 3 will enable you to join the farmers in your own in-home coffee cupping.

Yesterday, Liga Masiva brought a barista-style coffee cupping to farmers in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. Why? Well, we think it might just revolutionize the way trade works for small-scale farmers.

Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people are small-scale farmers. These farmers face three major obstacles to getting ahead: access to capital (to pay for improvements on farms), access to new markets (to earn more selling their premium products), and access to information (to hone their products to make them more marketable). Liga Masiva works to address all three obstacles, and yesterday, we worked on access to information in the form of… a coffee tasting!

Many of us enjoying morning brews of the world’s best beans don’t know that many coffee farmers never taste their high-quality coffee.  Rather, they export their best stuff because it earns the most. Farmers may brew lower quality beans on their farms, and drink it as it is drunk locally.  In DR, this means sugary and dark (which can be pretty darn tasty on a foggy morning, truth be told)!  They know more about growing coffee than anyone, but have little opportunity to learn what buyers look for in a cup.

This leaves farmers not knowing how to tune growing practices to buyer preferences. If you’ve been to a coffee cupping, you know coffee can smell like everything from tomato soup to chocolate (kind of like a wine tasting, only with more slurping, if you haven’t been).  For the farmers, this type of knowledge enables them to tweak their practices–say, choosing coffee cherry pulp fertilizer or immediately fixing a damaged depulper–to create the best coffee, and get the highest price they can.

Tasting their own coffees helps farmers understand the qualities of their coffee… and what makes it worth top dollar. We’ll keep up the farmer workshops in coming weeks, but in the meantime, we’re glad to know that farmers have a better sense of what we consider a cafecito delicioso. We’re glad to share one with them, and with you.

Check us out tomorrow for info on how to follow in the farmer’s footsteps and do your own tasting at home.