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Lessons from coffee tasting competition

Recently, EAFCA in partnership with Tanzania National Taste of Harvest Committee, Tanzania Coffee Board and the US-based Coffee Quality Institute, through USAID – COMPETE Programme, held the annual Taste of Harvest Coffee Competition at Sal Salnero Hotel in Moshi. The annual Taste of Harvest (TOH) was then held at Mazao / City Coffee Facility through their generous venue sponsorship, under the tutelage of highly trained and experienced facilitators from Coffee Quality Institute Coffee Corps and the Coordinator from EAFCA, Ms Mbula Mutahi.

According to the Executive Secretary of Tanzania Coffee using standard protocol and procedures Association, Mr James Lema, the TOH event was Head-Judged using standard protocol and procedures by the regional EAFCA Secretariat, that has acquired years of experience in running the annual TOH events in all EAFCA coffee producing countries. Mr Lema hinted that over the last eight years, EAFCA has worked closely with the Tanzanian coffee industry members to organize several training programmes to address the knowledge gap in the coffee value chain right from planting to harvest and processing.

To-date, Tanzania can call upon resource pool of over 100 skilled coffee cuppers, qualitygraders and millers to sow the seeds of knowledge received from those training programmes in the country’s coffee industry, he noted. Mr Lema revealed that several organizations based in Tanzania have worked hard in the last few months to organize those important events in the coffee calendar, and for the first time have formed a National Taste of Harvest Committee which has brought together representatives from the entire Tanzania coffee sector.

“The purpose of the TOH annual coffee competition is to identify and deservedly recognize coffees that will score highest in overall quality that is judged on intrinsic quality characteristics, such as aroma, acidity, clean cup composition, uniformity of cup and aftertaste,” Ms Mutahi said. During the event, there was a judge’s calibration session for the TOH judges panel consisting of the best cuppers from various areas in Tanzania and all licensed G-graders. That arrangement was intended to enhance their professional expertise as well as contribute to the identification of the best quality coffees harvested in the 2001 coffee season at the National Taste of Harvest (NToH) event.

The TOH Competition brought together all the leading coffee producers and exporters who were required to submit their best coffee samples for testing by a panel of local and international judges. All coffees which secured scores of 80 plus were evaluated, profiled and publicized/promoted if they meet cup, green grading and roasted coffee criteria, according to Ms Mutahi, saying EAFCA will provide feedback to farmers who submitted samples, EAFCA members and database as well as buyers from around the world through the EAFCA website.

EAFCA Coordinator revealed that key benefits to the coffee producers and exporters that participated in the TOH competition included potential higher premiums from coffee buyers and the opportunity to explore and consolidate new marketing channels, including the still nascent domestic coffee market that has the prospect of expanding to unprecedented heights. “Coffee buyers benefit by gaining access to producers of high quality, specialty coffees and establishing business relationships that would require extensive resources to create otherwise,” she said.

At the end of the TOH competition, Tanzania hosted a ‘Coffee Club,’ which took the form of a cocktail reception that brought together all the EAFCA members and coffee stakeholders in the public and private sector. During the function invitees had an opportunity to network and share experiences while the winning TOH coffees and participants received recognition in the forms of prizes, trophies and certificates.

Established in 2000 and with its Secretariat in Kampala, Uganda, EAFCA members include both public and private sector coffee stakeholders that include producers, exporters, international importers, roasters, policy makers, transporters and trade  representatives, according to Ms Mutahi. She says EAFCA collaborates with a host of development partners, such as USAID, CFC, European Union, International Coffee Organisation and others to increase the trade in fine and specialty coffees in the region, improve quality and boost domestic consumption of coffee.

Ms Mutahi revealed that EAFCA has hosted seven successful African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibitions in 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya; 2005 in Livingstone, Zambia; 2006 in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 2008 in Kampala, Uganda; 2009 in Kigali, Rwanda; 2010 in Mombasa, Kenya and last year in Arusha, Tanzania. “EAFCA is thrilled to be organizing yet another world class event that promotes productivity, quality, trade of fine coffees and their consumption which will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” she beamed.

Tanzania’s coffee production increased to about 917,000 bags during last season, a six-year highest record, compared to 810,000 bags recorded during the previous season. An official of one of Tanzania Coffee Association (TCA) recently said, the fall in export is due to less demand for the commodity in importing countries, especially US and Japan. Coffee exporters faced a double tragedy as they could not export in time due to congestion at the container terminal and drop in prices in the world market.

A coffee dealer who preferred anonymity told this paper on Sunday over the phone from Moshi this week that, congestion at the Tanzania International Container Terminal (TICTS) in Dar es Salaam is a big concern because exports are not meeting schedules. He said they do not go for new contracts because of congestion of the product. The TCB’s official Mr Desderi Mboya was quoted recently as saying that, a total of 33.1 million kilos of coffee comprising 16million kilos of arabica and 27 kilos of robusta were sold between August and December.

JULIUS Mugasha (52) a resident of Butulage village ...

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Author: PETER TEMBA

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