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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Cup of Excellence Returns to Original Campus Setting to Select Top Coffee

United States - The Cup of Excellence (COE) program returned to a campus setting for its annual Brazil competition. The first competition was held in 1999 on a university campus in Lavras, Brazil with only a handful of cuppers. Eight years later, 31 international cuppers enjoyed the final selection week on campus at the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, one of the largest and most well known agricultural universities in Latin America.

Throughout the week, students and professors were seen mingling with cuppers as they exchanged viewpoints on the complexities of top coffees. In her ceremony speech, Susie Spindler, managing director for the Cup of Excellence, agreed with the university team to partner the Cup of Excellence with Viçosa’s state of the art agronomics education, in order to complete the circle of coffee knowledge available to the farmers and students.

Of particular interest on campus is the study of specific varietals and how these affect quality. Coffees of the heirloom Bourbon variety won half of the awards in this competition, many more than would have been expected given their percentage in the Brazil specialty coffee production, indicating that its particular flavor profile may be critically important for top coffee.

The winning coffees did everything to live up to the expectations that the 2006 Brazil crop would have outstanding quality. After several weeks of very stringent cuppings, 29 coffee farmers received the coveted Cup of Excellence award. The first place farmer, Cicero Vegas Cavalcanti de Albuquerque of Fazenda Esperanca, was also a Presidential Award winner. The 14 of the 29 winners have won before, indicating that the quality of their coffee is not only great, but also very consistent. These valuable and rare coffee lots will be sold to the highest bidder during an open Internet auction beginning at 9AM Eastern standard time on January 16, 2007.

The Cup of Excellence program has become famous for the high prices paid to winning farmers, and for the rare and exemplary quality that these winning coffees represent. Last year the top coffee broke the record garnering $49.75/lb.

Utz Kapeh Named New Origin in El Salvador

El Salvador - Utz Kapeh recently announced that El Salvador would be a new origin in their portfolio, which brings the amount of countries producing Utz Kapeh-certified coffee to 18.

The first two coffee producers in El Salvador, Piemonte and Argelia, recently obtained their Utz Kapeh certification. Utz Kapeh certification is recognized by stakeholders throughout the coffee industry. This allows for a credible instrument for farmers, cooperatives and producer groups to demonstrate to their buyers that their coffee is produced responsibly. For coffee roasters and brands, Utz Kapeh is a tool to recognize and reward professionalism and responsibility in coffee.

The company cooperates with many local and international partners to implement responsible and professional practices, and to market certified coffee. The certification of Argelia and Piemonte in El Salvador is the first step towards a stronger presence of Utz Kapeh in the region. These Salvadorian Utz Kapeh pioneers mark the beginning of a closer approach between Utz Kapeh and the producers in El Salvador, which also paves the way for a much stronger position in the Latin American coffee sector as a whole.

On top of an expected demand, Utz Kapeh has already received registration for Salvadorian coffee from several buyers. Utz Kapeh is working towards certification with Coex, Fideicomiso, Walter Soundy Trust, and Muyshondt Avila (part of the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe). Joint plans for development workshops and training sessions, alongside cooperation with individuals and groups, such as Consejo Salvadoreño del Café, Sistemas Empresariales

de Mesoamerica (SEM), are scheduled for the near future. In addition, they are planning Utz Days to broaden the Utz Kapeh presence and the opportunities and value that Utz Kapeh offers to coffee growers.

Ooty Tea Gardens Hit by Severe Frost

India - According to a report recently published by The Hindu, a severe frost has become a major source of concern in many tea gardens.

Joint director of Horticulture, Nilgiris, R. Selvaraj told The Hindu that the harsh winter has taken many by surprise. The cultivable area of 80,000 hectares in six taluks of the district, and 60,000 hectares were devoted to tea. Many tea gardens in four taluks were affected by the frost. Out of 17,000 hectares in Udhagamandalam and Kundah taluks, 700 hectares in Nanjanad, Yedakkad, Ithalar, Nunthala and Kodhumudi were affected.

In Kotagiri taluk, 100 hectares out of 12,000 hectares in Nedugula and Milidhane were hit. In Coonoor taluk, out of 11,000 hectares, 102 hectares in Thambatty, Ketti, Palada, Katteri and Selas were affected.

Selvaraj, however, clarified that only traditionally frost-prone areas were affected. Assistant director of Horticulture, J. Haldorai said the yield in most of the frost-hit tea estates was likely to come down by 50%.

It is feared that if the present trend continued, per hectare loss would be about Rs. 16,000. A study of the records maintained by the department of horticulture showed that after a gap of about six years the hill station was experiencing a severe frost. Small tea growers had been advised to go for plant protection measures.

Tea & Coffee - January, 2007

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