Quality; McReality; Certification; Tabi the wunder-coffee

Revue
 
You may have seen a BH job offer flying about in January. That position is now filled by two awesome
 
March 3 - Issue #92

Barista Hustle

Views and news about the brews. Unique and relevant information for coffee professionals and enthusiasts.

You may have seen a BH job offer flying about in January. That position is now filled by two awesome humans: Michael Cameron of Strivefortone.com low-pressure-espresso-freeze-your-beans fame; and Nathan Hart, a welcome import from the film industry with solid Barista experience and ninja web skills. These monthly emails are now written collaboratively by the whole team. 💞
PS - For the hordes of people emailing us about it: the tamper will be in stock and shipping worldwide early next week!

Quality is a Moving Target
In a clearly articulated and brilliantly presented talk, Katie Carguilo lays out a large problem within the specialty coffee industry. She leads with a deceptively simple question:
“Do coffees that taste good do good?”
It’s deceptive, because a prevalent narrative in this industry is that high quality of coffee = high quality of life for the farmer. The truth?
We talk about passion for our jobs, passion for coffee, passion for the industry. Travelling to origin, speaking with farmers Katie discovers something different:
“You know what farmers are passionate about? Making more money”
To do this we need to pay more to the farmers, and we need to charge more for their coffee. Katie outlines three possible ideas to achieve this: Quality, Certification, and Relationships. Here’s three recent and relevant bites on this trio.
Quality
James Hoffmann talked about this; the idea of quality, and charging consumers more for coffee. He argues we’re trying to sell $15 burgers in a $5 burger shop. McDonald’s parody a hyperbolic version of when this call to action goes the wrong way; when we turn the value proposition up to eleven via superfluous hipster wankery. If the ad had you laughing out loud, that might be because so much of what is parodied is recognisable. But don’t miss the value proposition McDonalds are selling:
“Great tasting coffee. Simple.”
This should be a clarion call. Alarm bells ringing. We’ve lost the narrative. It’s not a joke, it’s not a compliment — it’s a warning. Conflating complexity with quality doesn’t work. And it doesn’t help the farmer.
Certification
Certifications have their own issues, as laid out by Michaele Weissman in her article “Is Direct Trade Fair?” She shines a light on the issues inherent in certifications, and Direct Trade in particular. It is a thorough and well written piece:
“Direct Trade is the worst system for buying green coffee we have, except for all the others Yes, there are problems, especially problems of scale, but it’s the best we have.”
With statistics from Michael Sheridan’s work with the Coffeelands Project along with Counter Culture’s own research, Katie Carguilo found only 22% to 31% of farmers reinvest in their farms. In other words the best case is that one in three farmers, upon collecting the premium paid via focusing on quality and direct trade relationships, fulfil the prophetic promise of “coffees that taste good do good”. 
Relationships
Katie lays down the gauntlet at the end of her talk. The ‘and’ and the ‘what’ are you:
“At the end of the day two people that actually want to work together, and make something work, that’s really gonna be the key to breaking away from global market forces.”
Every time you drink a coffee it represents an incredibly strong chain of humans working with other humans. Each month we celebrate a different series of these unique relationships with our Superlatives subscription. This month is no exception.
El Tesoro's Tabi, by Koppi
This month’s Superlatives coffee is a new world variety called Tabi. Perhaps one of the best arrows in our quiver with which to fight leaf rust’s global-warming-fuelled progress. Bonus: it also tastes incredible!
It represents a “real” relationship between roaster and farmer; namely Victor Barrera of El Tesoro with Anne and Charles of Koppi. They don’t just visit the farm to take instagram snaps or play “white Jesus saviours” as Noah Namowicz calls it. They’re committed year after year; fulfilling the promise of direct trade.
Victor Barrera of El Tesoro
We only have 50 bags of this super special coffee left and they’re going to disappear fast. You can either grab a one-time purchase of Superlatives or -even better- subscribe to the monthly schedule to get your hands on it. US$22, shipped anywhere in the world with DHL Registered mail.
Thanks for Reading!
Superlatives coffees always have an interesting story that extends beyond the people in that one relationship chain. We’ll be using these stories as inspiration for the monthly emails; sharing content and discussions that are relevant and important to everyone in the industry.
See you next month, where we’ll be taking a trip to Geisha-town! 🏳️‍🌈🦄

To the boundaries of coffee,
Barista Hustle
Did you enjoy this issue?
Thumbs up 1ae5a7bdfcd3220e2b376aa0c1607bc5edaba758e5dd83b482d03965219a220b Thumbs down e13779fa29e2935b47488fb8f82977fedcf689a0cc0cc3c19fa3c6bb14d1493b
Carefully curated by Barista Hustle with Revue.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.