From Coffee to Currency

From Our Asia Network:

High-value coffee important for farmers

Developing the skill of cupping coffee in order to evaluate its quality and unique characteristics is essential in helping ECHO network members succeed in endeavors to empower smallholder farmers. The end goal is to equip these farmers with the knowledge needed for high-value specialty coffee production.

The first ECHO Asia coffee cupping was organized on March 10, 2016, at the Torch Coffee Lab in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Zachary Price, ECHO Asia Technical Advisor and Q-grader (certified coffee cupper), led the activity and also shared knowledge about the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) cupping protocols, coffee processing, and tasting. 

The purpose of this event was to host local ECHO network members, nonprofits, and business owners who work with smallholder coffee farmers—in order to share knowledge and skills needed in evaluating coffee. Each participant was asked to bring 100 grams of light roasted coffee beans for the cupping in order to analyze the quality of the beans and to discuss the attributes of each coffee. 

“It was my very first experience in joining a coffee cupping workshop. I found it very useful for a beginner like me because what I learned helped me to test and taste coffee better. I can also start doing my own cupping with more confidence. It would be great if there were other workshops on how to evaluate coffee. I definitely will join them in order to expand my knowledge in this area” said Sawang Thongdi, community activist and owner of Nomad Coffee. 

ECHO Asia is working to support and strengthen the capacity of our network members in Asia where high value niche crops, such as coffee, have become of economic importance. When ECHO network members understand how to produce and evaluate quality coffee, it will enable them to speak up for fair treatment of smallholder farmers within the coffee industry, and guide these farmers to a more sustainable path. ECHO Asia Technical Advisor Zach Price works with NGOs and coffee business owners who assist smallholder farmers to provide both knowledge and skills that they can in turn, share with the farmers. Future trainings centered on topics such as best agricultural practices for coffee production, coffee processing methods, and coffee evaluation are all a part of ECHO Asia’s plans to better equip our network.

After receiving positive feedback from this first cupping, we are planning to organize more events that will also incorporate other topics for both the coffee beginner and professional. One participant stated that the cupping event did not last long enough – by offering expanded events in the future we can provide more training opportunities!