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Coffee and Tea Reports
from the Front Lines

Second Annual Brazil Coffee Internet Auction Held
SANTOS, BRAZIL - The Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association, together with their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe and the Agropecuária Research Company of Minas Gerais, with the assistance of Cooxupé, the Guaxupé Coffee Growers Cooperative, are holding the second Gourmet Coffee Quality Contest. The 20 coffees that win this contest are auctioned on the internet.

The contest follows regulations and selection procedures similar to the Illycafé Brazil Quality Awards. A minimum of 50 bags and maximum of 300 bags of coffee may be submitted as samples. The hundreds of samples received are classified by a panel of trade experts and, by consensus, reduced to 50 lots. The finalists are further reduced to 20 by classification and testing. These coffees are then be listed and described on the auction web site, and interested buyers will be able to examine and consider the various lots, which will be electronically auctioned.

The organizers are confident that the second internet auction will enjoy the same recognition as the first event last year, which brought premium prices for single origin gourmet Brazilian coffees of up to 150% over the market for traditional qualities at the time. The event also offered excellent opportunities for gourmet quality buyers worldwide to bid on and buy Brazilian coffees for their operations.It is further believed that the internet auctions confirm their objective of stimulating the interests and incentive among growers to increase the production and recognition in world markets of gourmet quality Brazilian coffees.

Shade Coffee Coming Into the Spotlight
ONTARIO, CANADA - Environmental and trade officials met in Mexico recently hope to expand consumer awareness to boost North American sales of shade coffee, according to the Toronto Star.

“We’re trying to find a way to support liberalized trade and protect the environment at the same time,” says Scott Vaughan of the Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

The commission, established under the North American Free Trade Agreement, would bring together more than 50 shade-coffee growers’ associations, Mexican farmers’ co-operatives, North American buyers (including Starbucks), and bankers for the two-day meeting.

The aim was to find a way to create a devoted niche market for shade-grown coffee, tapping into the economic and environmental benefits. Starbucks had purchased 34,000 kilograms of shade-grown coffee on the fair-trade market last year and sold it within a month.

“It was very popular. If you blinked, you missed it,” reported Sue Mecklenberg, director of environmental and community affairs at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Mecklenberg further note the company has bought another 34,000 kgs.

India to Boost Domestic Coffee Demand
CALCUTTA, INDIA - The Indian Coffee Board will try to boost their domestic coffee demand, partly as a response to an increase in crop yield over the 1999-2000 season from 55,000 tons to 285,000 tons, reported the Financial Times recently.

The Board, which prepared a Rs300m ($6.92m) domestic market promotion plan to popularize coffee drinking, hopes to secure partial funding from the Amsterdam-based Common Fund of Commodities.

The plan, which is in the process of being approved by the federal government, is to be implemented over a five-year period. The Board, which was conducting auctions until 1996, is now concerned exclusively with market promotion, research, and farm extension and labor welfare.

By 2002, India is expected to achieve production of 325,000 tons, against a target of 300,000 tons. About 65% of the country’s coffee are exported but growers need to get good prices for the coffee sold at home. Coffee’s main competitor in India is tea.

The Board feels Indian coffee, despite it distinctive character, is discounted by more than 20 cents a pound in the world market.

As well as the domestic push, it has set up a committee, which will draft an export promotion strategy and create a logo to relaunch Indian coffee abroad.

The Board is also in favor of India joining the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC), though it does not support the ACPC’s call for quotes to limit coffee output. What India wants instead is a marketing initiative that will be aimed at raising world consumption.

Tea and Coffee’s Caffeine Gene
LONDON, ENGLAND - Despite improvements in techniques used to strip the caffeine out of tea and coffee, decaffeinated versions often lack the flavor of the original, the Financial Times reported recently. The findings of an extensive study, published in the scientific journal Nature, holds out the prospect of growing a modified variety of tea and coffee that is caffeine-free,

Researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland have cloned one of the genes responsible for the production of caffeine in tea and coffee plants. Knowing the gene’s sequence is a first step towards deactivating it, which could lead to the production of tea and coffee that offers hope to hot beverage drinkers who can’t have caffeine.

Tea & Coffee - November/December 2000

Theta Ridge Coffee

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