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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Minas Gerais Crowned Winner of Illy Awards

Brazil - The 13th edition of the Illycaffé Espresso Coffee Quality Awards confirmed Minas Gerais as the leading quality producing state in Brazil, with the top 10 winners all growers from the Cerrado, Sul de Minas and Zona da Mata regions.

The Italian roaster began the Coffee Quality contest in 1991 as a means to ensure supplies of the Brazil quality that is required as the principal component of their espresso blends. President Ernesto Illy´s initiative and vision is recognized as one of the principal factors in encouraging growers to improve quality and promoting Brazil as a source of specialty coffees.

This year 914 coffees were received for classification, up from 263 samples registered for the first event. Lots of a minimum of 100 bags to a maximum of 650 bags of Arabica coffees, Natural, Washed or Peeled Cherry, grading Type 3 or better, screen 16 or above, are submitted for selection.

After a rigorous series of tests and classifications by trade experts and based on international standards, 50 lots are chosen to receive a total of $101,000 in prizes. Illycaffé is also committed to buy the chosen coffees at an agreed premium above going market prices.

This year the top 10 winners were all from Minas Gerais with six lots from the Zona da Mata region, including the 1st prizewinner from the town of Araponga. This was unprecedented in the story of the awards and it should be noted that the Zona da Mata region of Brazil has been historically known for producing inferior drinking coffees. This year’s results were another indication that the objectives of the Illycaffe Espresso Coffee Quality Awards are being achieved. - Harry C. Jones

Study Finds Green Tea Helps Kill Leukemia Cells

United States - Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that a component in green tea helps kill cells of the most common leukemia in the U.S., reports the Clinic’s web site.

The research using laboratory cell cultures shows that a component of green tea known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) helps kill leukemia cells by interrupting the communication signals they need to survive. The findings are reported in an early electronic article in the journal Blood http://www.bloodjournal.org/cgi/reprint/2003-08-2763v1.

The leukemia cells studied were from patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) - most often diagnosed in patients in their mid-to-late 60s. Currently, there is no cure for CLL, though chemotherapy is administered in the most severe cases. The Mayo Clinic study, led by Neil E. Kay, M.D., shows that green tea’s EGCG interrupted survival signals, prompting leukemia cells to die in eight of 10 patient samples tested in the laboratory.

Says Dr. Kay: “We’re continuing to look for therapeutic agents that are nontoxic to the patient but kill cancer cells, and this finding with EGCG is an excellent start.”

Mayo Clinic researchers focused on green tea for at least three reasons: Since the 1970s, studies have shown that in parts of the world where green tea is consumed, the incidence of solid tumor cancers is lower; mouse-model testing of green tea’s properties has shown they protect against solid tumors; and in the laboratory, the EGCG component of green tea has been proven to induce death in cancer cells from solid tumors.

U.N. Serving Sustainable Coffee

United States - The United Nations headquarters in New York City has begun serving sustainable coffee to the delegates and diplomats who walk its prestigious halls. Cafeterias and coffee shops in the U.N. complex will offer Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee, acclaimed both for its gourmet taste and its assurances for protection of workers and the environment. Java City, a specialty coffee roaster, wholesaler and retailer, will supply the coffee.

Coffee, the world’s second largest commodity after oil, is subject to price volatility and economic upheavals just as oil is. Over 25 million workers are employed by the coffee industry worldwide, but overproduction has caused a plummet in prices, forcing many of them into poverty.

“Serving Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee at UN Headquarters is a small, but symbolic step, on the long road to meeting the UN Millennium Development goals - a set of time-bounded targets for ensuring environmental sustainability, alleviating poverty, and promoting partnerships for global development,” says Sean Southey, manager of the United Nations Development Program’s Equator Initiative. “Purchasing this coffee supports the world’s coffee farmers, and also ensures that the natural environment of coffee farms can be conserved for the future.”

“We are very pleased that the U.N. has decided to begin serving Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee,” says Tensie Whelan, executive director of the Rainforest Alliance. “This signals a growing global awareness of the plight of coffee workers and the negative effects that unsustainable harvesting can have on the environment, as well as the important role consumers can play to assist farmers and safeguard ecosystems. By purchasing Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee, the entire U.N. community has a chance to support farmers who produce sustainable coffee, ensuring their livelihoods over the long term.”



Tea & Coffee - May/June, 2004
Tea Fair - China

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