So last Thursday night Rols and Anthony went out to a very special cupping with our dear friends from Toby’s Estate at their magnificent roastery in Chippendale. The focus of this event - aside from slurping some fuggen sensational coffees - was to learn about new growing regions, and the importance of supporting them as they begin supplying the world with truly dynamite beans.
Here’s the juice: as we bang on about here at Steamo quite a bit, climate change is real, and poses very serious implications for the future of the global coffee industry. The geography of countries who contribute the most specialty coffee are incredibly susceptible to changes in climatic conditions. African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, Central and South American countries like Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala - these are nations most vulnerable to the threats of climate change, and sadly with the least amount of resources to adapt.
What’s more, the world’s demand for specialty coffee is increasing, just as the production capacity of these regions is diminishing. If you’ll pardon a non-PC barista pun, obviously this is a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully, there are considerate legends like the team at TECR who are tackling the future sustainability of the coffee industry head on. Fronted by the highly acclaimed Charlotte Malaval, Toby’s have been exploring previously-ignored growing regions, capable of producing specialty coffee to a microlot standard traditionally exclusive to long-established stalwarts like Panama and Ethiopia.
Some of these places are way out of left field; think countries like China, Uganda, Malawi.
These regions haven’t just started producing coffee out of nowhere; those familiar with the horticulture know that coffee trees require a minimum of three years before they begin bearing cherries worth picking, processing, roasting and drinking. It’s just that the quality control hasn’t been there - improper management has meant that amazing harvests were being mixed up with crap harvests at the same processing mills, ripe cherries weren’t being sorted from underripe cherries, etc. Consequently the overall output was being compromised by a lack of both knowledge and facilities.
That’s where Toby’s has come in - propagating local industries in impoverished nations requires significant human and capital investment. By engaging local farmers directly, roasters can contribute significantly to implementing new techniques, supplying infrastructure, improving their existing practices and then enjoying an insanely good finished product.
Of particular note were some unbelievable estates from Myanmar whose beans found their way to the Chippo cupping tables last week. We were blown away by the quality of these coffees, and are incredibly excited to showcase them in the coming months and throughout 2018. Toby’s are leading the charge in this extremely progressive movement, and such efforts are critical to guarantee supply of the highest calibre specialty coffee into the future. It is impressive stuff and we are super excited to be the bridge between this initiative and those that will benefit - ie you, as you gulp down long black after delicious long black here in good ol' Chatty.