SCAA Symposium http://www.scaasymposium.org Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:13:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Colleen Anunu | What the Research is Telling Us About Gender and Agriculture http://www.scaasymposium.org/colleen-anunu-what-the-research-is-telling-us-about-gender-and-agriculture/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/colleen-anunu-what-the-research-is-telling-us-about-gender-and-agriculture/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:13:06 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3321

The traditional view of small holder farmers is that their households behave as one unit and that everyone has say in production, income, etc. The reality is that households are composed of individuals with different risk, profiles, access and opportunities. When we do not take these differences into consideration, in regards to the supply chain, it has negative affects on production and amplifies constraints for women’s participation. A recent study of the value chain analysis revealed that to address gender inequities improvements are needed in the following areas: control over access to assets, time and labor allocation, decision making over income, decision making over agriculture production, social networks and leadership in community. How can coffee professionals leverage their positions in the supply chain to affect change? When planning a coffee incentive program, like price premiums, or social project consider if it is actually enforcing gender equity. If we are are not considering the differences we are amplifying them.

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Daniele Giovannucci | The Business of Sustainability: Assessing What Matters http://www.scaasymposium.org/daniele-giovannucci-the-business-of-sustainability-assessing-what-matters/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/daniele-giovannucci-the-business-of-sustainability-assessing-what-matters/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 20:01:26 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3311

When we talk about measurement, we recognize that there is a lot of data. Earth’s careful and specific trajectory illustrates measurement’s finite edge. Varying one-ninth of an inch every 18 miles, the planet sustains a living temperature. Daniele’s five key principles keep the coffee industry on a trajectory similar to that of Earth’s orbit in importance. These principles include common indicators that reduce confusion, standardized measures improving project design and assessment, local capacity for relevance, multi-dimensional views that offer systemic understanding, and international validity. If we have the right metrics, we can understand real productivity, which is different in each region.

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Join SCAA for #SymposiumFriday http://www.scaasymposium.org/join-scaa-for-symposiumfriday/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/join-scaa-for-symposiumfriday/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 20:33:02 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3292 Friends –

Last week, we did our first SCAA Symposium Friday Lunch at Headquarters in Santa Ana, where we watched a Symposium video over lunch, then discussed it afterwards. A number of our colleagues who heard about it expressed their enthusiasm to try it themselves! To support this, we figured we could create a little discussion guide to help start the discussion. We’ll be following along with the hashtag #Symposiumfriday if you want to take the discussion to social media!

On June 5 we watch “A Simple Question” By Michael Sheridan

Discussion Guide:

Sheridan’s talk tells a story of investigating “a simple question”; which variety should certain Colombian producers plant. The process of finding the answer was not so simple, and led to some surprise discoveries. This underscores the nature of inquiry, and that sometimes you wind up learning things that were not anticipated.

  1. What are your favorite coffee varieties? Do you associate certain varieties with certain qualities? How have you come by these associations?
  2. Sheridan poses a pointed question: if we want farmers to grow particular varieties, should we pay a premium for those that are less productive or more disease susceptible? How do we determine this premium?
  3. What other questions might be addressed with this kind of research? Are there any other assumptions commonly made about coffee quality that you think might bear investigating?

 
Other Resources:

  1. Michael Sheridan’s Blog, detailing the background of this project and much, much more
  2. Dr. Helene Hopfer’s talk from the 2014 SCAA Symposium, addressing the wine industry’s challenges determining ‘goodness’ in wine flavor
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Flavio Borem | Beyond Wet and Dry: Breaking Paradigms in Coffee Processing http://www.scaasymposium.org/flavio-borem-beyond-wet-and-dry-breaking-paradigms-in-coffee-processing/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/flavio-borem-beyond-wet-and-dry-breaking-paradigms-in-coffee-processing/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 21:35:09 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3284

“I hope to inspire new discussion about old paradigms.” So began Dr. Borem in a talk that challenged specialty coffee leaders to rethink assumptions about wet and dry-processed coffee. Natural coffees are often perceived to be of lower quality and lesser consistency than wet processed coffees. Flavio explains that the most important factor in any coffee’s consistency is the integrity of cell membranes inside the coffee beans. Natural coffees are more sensitive to cell membrane damage than washed coffees. If the cells are damaged, the coffee can taste oily and fade significantly faster. But naturals are not inherently less consistent than washed coffees—with the right drying temperatures and drying rate, they are capable of great beauty and consistency. This matters not just for taste, but for sustainability. Natural coffees use 0 liters of water to produce per bag. Traditional washed coffees use an astounding 1,240 liters per bag.

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Lindsey Bolger | A Sensory Lexicon: The Science of Flavor http://www.scaasymposium.org/lindsey-bolger-a-sensory-lexicon-the-science-of-flavor/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/lindsey-bolger-a-sensory-lexicon-the-science-of-flavor/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 18:59:46 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3281

The future of the coffee industry depends on being able to breed the next generation of coffees that are both climate tolerant and have all of the beautiful flavors and aromas we know are possible in specialty. In order for coffee breeding programs to succeed, the industry needs a universal vocabulary of flavor that is both rigorous and replicable.

In her 2015 Symposium talk, Lindsey Bolger discusses World Coffee Research’s partnership with Kansas State University to develop just such a lexicon. The sensory scientists at KSU—some of the best in the world—have identified 108 unique flavor attributes of coffee, with a manual that describes references for those flavors and their intensity. Researchers and breeders will use the lexicon to understand the genetic underpinnings of those 108 flavors, and to ensure that the next generation of coffee cultivars is both resilient and tastes amazing.

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The Next Evolution of Symposium is Re:co http://www.scaasymposium.org/the-next-evolution-of-symposium-is-reco/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/the-next-evolution-of-symposium-is-reco/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 22:44:14 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3273 Last month in Seattle, WA, delegates from around the world attended the 7th Annual Specialty Coffee Association of America Symposium, and what would be the last SCAA Symposium…at least under this name. This is not the end of an era, however, but rather the beginning of a whole new life for our beloved specialty coffee symposium. As an evolution of Symposium, Re:co – for Regarding Coffee – will come into being with its first event in Gothenburg, Sweden on the 15th and 16th of June this summer. Launching at the Nordic World of Coffee, this event will focus primarily on the new speciality coffee market in Europe, including the state of the market, the challenges we face, and some of the solutions we have. Re:co will also shine a light on opportunities for growth and development and will delve into how these can be approached.

This inaugural Re:co Symposium will be the first of many, which will be held around the world (the second in Guatemala City this August), and will continue to be a platform for the most innovative and inspirational industry leaders in coffee, science, economics, and academia to present ideas, solutions, and take a look at the issues that are impacting specialty coffee across the supply chain.

Organized by World Coffee Events (WCE) and supported by SCAA and SCAE – the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe – Re:co provides a place for coffee professionals to surround themselves with fellow thought leaders and decision makers, make important connections, and seek to better understand the issues that are affecting key players in the specialty coffee industry. Symposium attendees reflect on the significance of this event and what it means to our industry:

To learn more, please visit recosymposium.org.

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Michael Sheridan | A Simple Question: Caturra or Castillo? http://www.scaasymposium.org/michael-sheridan-a-simple-question-caturra-or-castillo/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/michael-sheridan-a-simple-question-caturra-or-castillo/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 18:38:59 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3257

It’s a simple question: Does a farmer choose to plant the caturra variety or castillo? To answer this question, Sheridan begins by comparing the controversy to the 1997 film “Men With Guns.” He recognizes the farms involved in making decisions on which cultivar to use we were persuaded with guns, but varietal opinions; they were not threatened, but offered incentives. They were offered the choice between the promise of disease-resistant, highly-productive Castillo and a shot at the big leagues with the already established Caturra cultivar, promising to deliver a quality product.

Using two panels to test each of these cultivars, Sheridan came away with some interesting conclusions. Find out the results in this video of his SCAA Symposium 2015 talk.

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Session Recap: Day Two, Afternoon http://www.scaasymposium.org/session-recap-day-two-afternoon/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/session-recap-day-two-afternoon/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 00:05:11 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3243 By Maria Hill

Gender Equity: Can Shifting Our Focus Improve the Supply Chain?

Hosted by Kimberly Easson, VP of Strategic Partnerships & Gender Program Advisor, Coffee Quality Institute

Kimberly Easson introduced the final Symposium session about Gender Equity that explored the issue of gender in producing countries. Recent data is showing that investing in gender inclusive value chain activities is integral to sustaining a vibrant industry, healthy families, and quality coffee. Symposium attendees were challenged to identify what opportunities they have to support gender equity within the coffee supply chain.

A World With No Gender Gap
Lorena Aguilar, Global Senior Adviser, IUCN

90 percent of the world’s countries have at least one law that prohibits women access to things like bank accounts, land ownership, and education. Acknowledging and understanding the gender gap is crucial to inspiring a change. IUCN is empowering women in countries like Jordan, Egypt and Liberia by providing opportunities to collect and share data about climate change with government leaders and decision makers. Giving women a seat at the table leads to a more effective and efficient community structure, this is how transformation looks. Lorena closed her presentation with a powerful message: gender equality is not the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.

What the Research is Telling Us About Gender and Agriculture
Colleen Anunu, Researcher and Educator, Master’s Candidate at Cornell

The traditional view of small holder farmers is that their households behave as one unit and that everyone has say in production, income, etc. The reality is that households are composed of individuals with different risk, profiles, access and opportunities. When we do not take these differences into consideration, in regards to the supply chain, it has negative affects on production and amplifies constraints for women’s participation. A recent study of the value chain analysis revealed that to address gender inequities improvements are needed in the following areas: control over access to assets, time and labor allocation, decision making over income, decision making over agriculture production, social networks and leadership in community. How can coffee professionals leverage their positions in the supply chain to affect change? When planning a coffee incentive program, like price premiums, or social project consider if it is actually enforcing gender equity. If we are are not considering the differences we are amplifying them.

Gender Equity in Practice: The Bukonzo Joint Case
Paineto Baluku, Managing Director, Bukonzo Cooperative Union
Katherine Nolte, Coffee Marketer & Marketing Advisor, Twin

Gender dynamics in rural farming households has a direct impact on coffee quality and the supply chain, when you improve gender balance you improve your supply. In Uganda traditionally women would pick the coffee and men would sell coffee, and keep all of the profit. This lead to women picking coffee before it was ripe in order to sell it to support the household. This cycle led to low quality coffee and reinforced competition between men and women in households. The Bukonzo Cooperative Union is working to improve both gender equity and coffee quality in Uganda. Through a series of collaborative planning events that utilized pictorial brainstorming it was revealed that both women and men would rather work together instead of compete. The coop is supporting this goal by including women in leadership and training opportunities as well as offering them co-ownership of coffee growing land. This commitment to gender equity had a direct affect on coffee quality, the average cupping scores increased from 77 in 2011 to 85.75 in 2014. In the words of Katherine Nolte “balanced trees bear richer fruit.”

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Session Recap: Day Two, Morning http://www.scaasymposium.org/session-recap-day-two-morning/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/session-recap-day-two-morning/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 19:22:41 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3240 By Jesse Bladyka

Out of the Box: Unexpected Innovations in Coffee

This morning, rested after an extraordinary opening day, the Symposium audience reconvened to hear from a group of innovators who spoke about pushing boundaries, extending limits, and exploring the frontiers of the specialty coffee industry, both figuratively and literally.

A New Frontier: Coffee Farming in California?
Jay Ruskey, Owner/Grower, Good Land Organics

Jay Ruskey owns Good Land Organics in Goleta, California, and is proving that coffee can be grown in California! In the sensory experience area, he provided different varieties of coffee fruit to taste. He reminded us that coffee is indeed a fruit, and invited us to taste it next to other non-native fruits that he grows in Goleta. These included Cherimoya, Suriname Cherry and the incredible caviar lime. Ruskey has opened a nursery and is distributing coffee plants throughout California, to farmers and also for people to plant outside of their homes. He notes that “by farming in extremes, we can learn very quickly.”

Small But Mighty? Biological Rust Controls
Harry Evans, Emeritus Fellow, CAB International

Harry Evans took the stage and opened our eyes to a few important developments in the world of Coffee Rust. Evans studies classical biological controls, or ways to use co-evolved organisms to naturally control pests or pathogens. A critical point for biological controls is examining the “center of origin” and the enormously complex ecosystem of microbial life that has evolved together. There are natural “enemies” to the coffee rust fungus, but these enemies haven’t always traveled with the fungus, which may have aided the rust in its ability to succeed at the cost of the coffee. Perhaps the most astounding point he made was the revelation that coffee rust may not have co-evolved with arabica. He suspects that it might have actually evolved with robusta, and for that reason, expects that his search for answers will lead him further toward Central Africa.

Things We Like:Culture’s Impact on Preference
Charlotte Biltekoff, Associate Professor, University of California Davis

Charlotte Biltekoff challenged us to reframe the way that we think about food and culture by considering the politics of nutrition. What does it mean to be a good eater? How is that the same or different than being a good citizen? She presented a World War II era nutritional guideline aligning eating healthy with good citizenship and poor nutrition with supporting Hitler. She then compared this to the current popularity of fresh squeezed juices as it compares to campaigns against drinking sugar loaded soft drinks. She argued that health is not only scientific, but it reflects and measures social values. History helps us because it changes how we see things, it’s easy to see the cultural context of history, can we apply that to how we are thinking and talking about specialty coffee today?

During a coffee break, in the Swiss Water sensory area, we were able to experience some very cool things. Three different Colombian coffees were paired with three different exquisite chocolates in the pairings outlined by Bernard Lahousse and Luis Fernando Samper during yesterdays sensory session. Tasting coffee and chocolate seems to be almost always a complimentary experience, but it was amazing to see the effects of highlighting very specific shared flavor notes and how that helped differentiate the coffees. We were also introduced to some of the WCR sensory lexicon reference standards that were discussed by Lindsey Bolger yesterday.

The program thus far has been swift moving and deep in content. This afternoon in the discussion Salons we will have the opportunity to delve deeper into all of these topics with the speakers and with the powerful minds present here at Benaroya Hall today.

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Session Recap: Day One, Afternoon http://www.scaasymposium.org/session-recap-day-one-afternoon/ http://www.scaasymposium.org/session-recap-day-one-afternoon/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 15:34:52 +0000 http://www.scaasymposium.org/?p=3235 By Hanna Neuschwander

The Cutting Edge of Sensory Science

Hosted by Emma Bladyka, Coffee Science Manager, SCAA

Emma started us off this afternoon with a reminder that this is not the first time Symposium has tackled the issue of sensory science—and it’s unlikely to be the last. The complexity of describing coffee flavor and aroma is a central challenge for the industry. But it’s also a primary source of our passion for coffee, and a site for some of the richest research and innovation happening in the industry right now.

A Sensory Lexicon: The Science of Flavor
Lindsey Bolger, VP of Coffee Sourcing & Excellence, Keurig Green Mountain

The future of the coffee industry depends on being able to breed the next generation of coffees that are both climate tolerant and have all of the beautiful flavors and aromas we know are possible in specialty. In order for coffee breeding programs to succeed, the industry needs a universal vocabulary of flavor that is both rigorous and replicable. World Coffee Research has partnered with Kansas State University to develop just such a lexicon. The sensory scientists at KSU—some of the best in the world—have identified 108 unique flavor attributes of coffee, with a manual that describes references for those flavors and their intensity. Researchers and breeders will use the lexicon to understand the genetic underpinnings of those 108 flavors, and to ensure that the next generation of coffee cultivars is both resilient and tastes amazing.

Turning Good Science into Good Business
Luis Fernando Samper, Science Director, FNC
Bernard Lahousse, Co-founder, Foodpairing.com

What potential does flavor have to drive business? Luis Semper introduced us to a current project in Columbia to define denominations of origin. The idea, borrowed from wine, is a way of defining coffee regions with identifiable differences in flavor and character that emerge from the environment—coffee terroir. To do this rigorously is hard enough from a scientific perspective, but Luis suggests that the bigger challenge is to communicate those differences clearly to consumers. One solution is to engage chefs, baristas, and other “influencers” to play and experiment with coffee’s flavors and pair them with food and spirits.

To that end, the FNC engaged Bernard Lahousse from foodpairing.com. Lahousse reminds us that 80% of taste perception is really smell, so aroma is essential to any project related to flavor perception. (To demonstrate this, Lahousse handed everyone in the audience a capsule of sugar mixed with cinnamon. Each person was instructed to pinch their nose and put the sugar in their mouth—it was sweet and crunchy with no trace of cinnamon. After release their noses, the audience collectively gasped—a flood of cinnamon, imperceptible without smell, inundated their senses all at once.) The best pairings come from elements of overlap in chemical aroma signatures—kiwi and oysters, for example, have shared molecular elements that make them both fruity and sealike. Lahousee used complex algorithms to map the unique aromatic signature of Nariño coffee and match it with food items that have critical overlap. The result? An ideal dessert to pair with Nariño coffee: Lemon custard with a garnish of raspberry. The foodpairings.com website lets chefs, baristas, and others see what other flavors pair well with coffees from the different Columbian denominations.

Water: The Invisible Driver of Coffee

Hosted by Kim Elena Ionescu, Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager, Counter Culture Coffee

From the illusory nature of sensory science to the easy-to-overlook importance of water. In a city like Seattle, where any tap will deliver unlimited qualities of clean, safe water on demand, Kim Elena Ionescu asks: When water is seemingly ubiquitous, is it possible to see clearly how essential it is, and how fragile? Can exploring coffee’s relationship with water help prepare our industry for a future where water is more scarce? Kim suggests that the fact that we so rarely attend to the central importance to our industry represents a huge opportunity to do better.

We All Drink Downstream: Water and Ecosystems
Paul Hicks, Water Resources Coordinator, Catholic Relief Services

Globally, water scarcity and cleanliness is one of the biggest future risks humans face. Coffee farms are upstream of drinking water sources for over 9 million people in Central America. But Paul tells us there is massive potential for the specialty coffee sector to have a positive impact here: “There is no agricultural system more effective at managing a healthy water cycle than shade grown coffee.” What can roasters and coffee buyers do? Help producing partners to focus on soil management, work with certifiers to make sure that farms aren’t contaminating downstream drinking water sources, and buy coffee processed with water-saving technologies, among other possible solutions.

Drought is the New Frost: Water and the Coffee Market
Keith Flury, Head of Coffee Research, Volcafe

How does water—or the absence of it—affect the business of coffee? As Keith Flury points out, it has come to have a massive effect on C prices. “Drought is the new frost.” In recent years, Brazilian frosts have been on the decline and droughts are ascendant. Because Brazil represents so much of the globe’s coffee production, when Brazilian coffee yields decline due to weather, the C price often goes up. The price increase prompts coffee farmers elsewhere in the world to plant more coffee. This coffee takes 3-5 years to mature, usually well after the price has fallen again. So, while increased prices may on the surface sound like a good thing, it often isn’t. Brazilian droughts are exacerbating the boom-and-bust cycle of coffee all around the world, creating more volatility and less stability for producers.

Beyond Wet and Dry: Breaking Paradigms in Coffee Processing
Flavio Borem, Professor, Federal University of Lavras

“I hope to inspire new discussion about old paradigms.” So began Dr. Borem in a talk that challenged specialty coffee leaders to rethink assumptions about wet and dry-processed coffee. Natural coffees are often perceived to be of lower quality and lesser consistency than wet processed coffees. Flavio explains that the most important factor in any coffee’s consistency is the integrity of cell membranes inside the coffee beans. Natural coffees are more sensitive to cell membrane damage than washed coffees. If the cells are damaged, the coffee can taste oily and fade significantly faster. But naturals are not inherently less consistent than washed coffees—with the right drying temperatures and drying rate, they are capable of great beauty and consistency. This matters not just for taste, but for sustainability. Natural coffees use 0 liters of water to produce per bag. Traditional washed coffees use an astounding 1,240 liters per bag.

The Simplest Ingredient? The Complexities of Water and Flavor
Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, Director, Colonna & Small’s

UK Barista Champion Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood had a mystery on his hands. A coffee that should have tasted amazing tasted “like rubbish.” The culprit turned out to be water. Colonna-Dashwood teamed up with a scientist at the University of Bath to try to understand why his water was causing his coffee to taste all wrong when the standard industry metric for water quality—TDS—said the water was all right. It turns out that TDS is a profoundly imprecise way to measure the most important components in water: Calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Two waters could have the same TDS reading but wildly different quantities of these individual minerals, meaning that the same coffee brewed in different cafes could taste profoundly different. Without realizing it, coffee roasters have been creating roast profiles that are suited to their particular water terroir. But, as Maxwell said in closing, “I’m interested in the terroir of the coffee, not the terroir of the water,” pointing to a possible opportunity for the specialty industry to explore water standardization.

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