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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Shade-Grown Coffee to Help Save The World’s Rain Forests

United States - The National Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit, environmental education organization that adheres the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees, has recently launched their own brand of triple certified shade grown, Fair Trade, organic coffee. This new blend assists in preserving the world’s rainforests by supporting more than 1,000 Latin American family farms that produce shade-grown coffee.

The Arbor Day Specialty Coffee also supports the organization’s Rain Forest Rescue program, an Arbor Day Foundation initiative that has existed since 1992. Through this program, the Foundation participates in conservation partnerships and supports on-location education for sustainable forest management in an effort to reduce daily destruction of nearly 100,000 acres of tropical forests. Unlike other sun-grown coffee plantations, production of shade-grown coffee has three main environmental advantages: save trees from clear-cutting to make room for sun-grown coffee plantations, eliminate chemicals used in sun-grown coffee farming operations and preserve rainforest canopies and ecosystems.

Many Foundation members have enjoyed shade-grown Arbor Day Specialty Coffee for several years. Today, anyone can enjoy Arbor Day Specialty Coffee, which is roasted by The Roasterie in Kansas City. The Roasterie’s system provides a unique air-roasting process that circulates hot air through and around the beans, roasting beans evenly and uniformly. Such a blend supports the Rain Forest Rescue program. To learn more about preserving the world’s rainforests, visit the Foundation’s website at www.arborday.org/coffee.

India to Promote Tea-Tasting Tourism

India - A recent international conference announced that India plans to focus on tourism in regards to tea-tasting. That, along with holding international conferences seeks to boost in-bound tourism in the coming years, Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni stated. Currently, there are plans to develop tea-tasting circuits similar to the popular wine-tasting tours offered in Europe. The campaign, entitled “India Incredible,” was launched at the International Tourism Exchange.

At present, India’s tourism is only about 8% of the annual global business of $280 million generated by convention tourism. India’s tourism promotion campaign as the “Partner Nation” at the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin has helped to generate a strong interest in the country’s tourism offers among the trade visitors from around the world, as well as among the German public. India’s ITB promotion is significant not only because it comes as the country marks the 60th anniversary of its independence, but it also recognizes India’s increasing prominence on the world tourism stage.

Even though tourism growth in India has not been staggering and the 4.5 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2006 was only a tiny proportion of the 842 million arrivals worldwide, the outlook is very positive for achieving higher growth in the coming years, Soni said.

The importance of tourism for Indian economy is evident from the fact that it contributed to 5.9% of the Gross Domestic Product and provided employment to 41.8 million people.

Soni also stated that the ITB provided a forum for presenting the one-year-old “Incredible India” tourism promotion campaign to a high caliber international target group of industry representatives, decision-makers, media representatives and potential travelers. Besides participating in the gala opening, “India Night” of ITB, Soni officially opened the Indian pavilion together with the German Federal Minister for Economy and Technology Michael Glos and held a series of meetings with tour operators and industry representatives from several countries.

Reducing Coffee’s Acrylamide May Affect Flavor and Antioxidants

Europe - According to a recent report, the world coffee production is currently on the rise, but stocks still remain low. A study by the European Commission and Nestlé Product Technology reports that efforts to reduce the acrylamide content of coffee also negatively affects flavor and nutritional benefits.

The results, published in the journal LWT – Food Science and Technology, sets up an interesting “risk-benefit” conundrum for ingredients such as coffee, with debate likely to focus on whether benefits outweigh the risks or vice versa.

Coffee is one of the world’s largest traded commodities and is produced in over 60 countries, generating more than $70-bn in retail sales annually. “Increasing the roasting degree led to a decrease in acrylamide concentration, as well as radical scavenging capacity,” wrote Carmelina Summa, from the EC’s Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements. “The results of this work indicate that any mitigation efforts must also take into account the potential loss of desired food constituents and consequently changes to the risk/benefit characteristics of foods.”

Acrylamide is a carcinogen that is created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or toasted. According to the information provided by Summa and co-workers, coffee contributes about 40% of the total acrylamide exposure in Sweden and about 33% of that in Switzerland, making it a significant contributor from dietary sources. The suspected carcinogen is formed during the Maillard reaction that is initiated during roasting.

However, the Maillard reaction also leads to the production of melanoidins, compounds with potent antioxidant activity. Coffee is said to contribute 64% of an average Norwegian’s antioxidant intake, and has been linked to a reduced risk of certain diseases, especially liver disease and diabetes.

The researchers ran a series of experiments and determined acrylamide production and invitro radical scavenging capacity (a measure of antioxidant activity) of Robusta and Arabica coffee samples after roasting over varying times to obtain very light, light, medium and dark roasted coffee.

Summa reports that more intense roasting to obtain darker colored beans reduced acrylamide levels, but also negatively affected the ability to scavenge free radicals, as measured with electroparamagnetic resonance (EPR).

“More intense roasting, i.e. greater thermal load of coffee beans, has been considered as a way to decrease the concentration of acrylamide in coffee, albeit with a major impact on the organoleptic properties and consequently acceptability of the product,” said Summa. “The results obtained in this study show that a reduction in the concentration of acrylamide with darker degrees of roasting is accompanied by a reduction of the radical scavenging capacity of coffee (within the same coffee species),” she said.

Reducing the acrylamide content in coffee has become a major target for the food industry, but this research suggests that removing a major source of antioxidants, as well as reducing flavor and therefore acceptability of the product must also be considered.

ASTEC, Tea Board Moves to Secure GI Rights of Assam Tea

India - The Patent Information Center (PIC) of the Assam Science, Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC) and the Tea Board of India have undertaken separate ventures to secure the Geographical Indications (GI) rights for Assam tea with the GI Registry, Chennai. The PIC is collecting information, which has written to several agencies, including the Tocklai Experimental Station, Jorhat seeking the required information.

The Tocklai Experimental Station, while supplying the information asked for by the PIC, informed the latter that of late, the Tea Board of India was also working on to register Assam tea under GI. In the past, the Tea Board had taken the initiative and obtained GI for Darjeeling tea.

The Director of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, in a letter to the State Government, stated that the Tea Act 1953 vested with the Tea Board that all authority to regulate the cultivation, production, sale and export of Indian teas, including the tea produced in Assam.

These powers were also the basis for registration of Darjeeling tea as a certification mark and as GI in the name of Tea Board under the Indian law, said the Director of the Ministry of Commerce. The Director also said that the Tea Board was already in the process of filing the application for Assam as a GI by securing industry consensus.

However, the Tea Board is trying to get Assam tea registered as a GI covering only its orthodox variety. Production of orthodox tea is a seasonal concern for the state’s tea gardens, even though some continue to produce this variety of tea throughout the year.

Meanwhile, the State Government has directed the ASTEC to place the matter before the State level Committee for Protection Registration of GIs, said ASTEC sources.

The GI defined as indications or appellations of origin and famous geographical areas. It originates from a definite territory in India. It should have a special quality or characteristics or reputation based upon the climatic or production characteristics unique to a geographical location. It is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating in the said area.

The benefit of GIs provide legal protection to the items securing GI rights in India and prevents un-authorized use of a registered GI by others. They promote the economic prosperity of the producers and enable them in seeking protection in other WTO member countries, among others.

Tea & Coffee - April, 2007

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