Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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P U L L : E V E N T S A), noted that while we were talking about farmers and how to get them more mon- ey, we were holding an event in a non-producing country with speakers primarily from non-producing countries. During her discussion, she made the analogy that the value stream (a term from speaker Keba Konte of Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, Calif., who discouraged the use of "value chain" for its association with slavery) should run horizontally, not vertically. She asserted that each member of the stream should be treated equally. "If the seed doesn't survive, the cup won't either," Vanúsia said in reference to how coffee buyers are looking to pay the least amount of money for coffee but still demand social sustainability with a good story to boot. "But fi rst off," she said, "we need economic sustainability." Ted Fischer, a professor of anthropology from Vanderbilt University, tackled the question of value, asking attendees how they think value is created. "What are the values that go into a cup of third-wave coffee?" he asked. He followed the question by showing a map of a mountain in Guatemala where a Cup of Ex- cellence winner earns $4 per pound, but the farmers next door were bringing in just $1.25 per pound. His intent was to push people to consider whether what they value or believe actually contributes to the perceived quality of coffee. Value—who adds it, how we transfer it, and where it comes from—was a theme throughout Re:co. Michelle Johnson of The Chocolate Barista hit on it in her talk profi ling the commitment McDonald's made to buy all its coffee sustainably by 2020. Al- though we might not think of McDonald's as a force for change in the industry, Michelle's discussion showed that the company was incorporating many of the big ideas (like independent certi- fi cations, which Janina mentioned as a way to create differentia- tion for coffee producers) into its practices. The idea of value permeates the "supply stream"—even to the baristas and coffee professionals who serve coffee and those who consume coffee. This was when Keba Konte made his case for this terminology as mentioned above. His lecture, "Creating a Space that Empowers and Brings New Consumers to the Ta- ble," was part of the larger session hosted by Phyllis Johnson of BD Imports called "Growing Consumption: Letting Go of Same- ness." Before inviting Keba to the stage, Phyllis talked about the gap between coffee consumers based on race and ethnicity, and showed that ethnic minorities are catching up to white consumers, and that Black consumers have all but closed the gap. Keba talked about creating value in spaces that have been historically underserved, and how inviting new potential consumers and coffee pros to the table can create value. "As part of the culture at Red Bay, we want to decolonize the process," he said. This was when he brought up the importance of language, and how "value stream" is an appropriate way to reference the journey coffee takes. Keba encouraged attendees to step outside the echo chamber of their familiar spaces and consider approaches to coffee that encompass bigger groups of people. Other highlights of Re:co 2019 included Vera Espíndola Rafael, who tackled the term "producing countries" in such places as Brazil and Colombia, which boast exponential growth as consuming nations. She pointed to a startling statistic courtesy of the Coffee Barometer: "Cur- rently the average green-coffee export value is less than 10 percent of the $200 billion revenues generated in the coffee retail market. The fi nal Re:co speaker was Peter Roberts, a professor of organi- zation and management at Emory University. "My weight would be a better benchmark than the C market," he said, calling into question how value is measured. Peter worked on the recently released Spe- cialty Coffee Transaction Guide, and told the audience in no uncertain terms that while price transparency is a cute idea, it doesn't matter if more people aren't transparent and if they don't consider their prices in context. "Simply being transparent doesn't matter—information has to go somewhere," he said. So what does this all mean? After the talks—which were, for the fi rst time, available simultaneously in Spanish thanks to portable devices that attendees could wear—attendees were split into groups, and asked to pledge something they could do in the immediate future to address the coffee-price crisis. At lunch, I talked to a producer who told me that while Re:co was a good learning experience, it wasn't enough. She said not enough was being done to address the price crisis. She told me that one of the leading farms in her region had to lay off a fi fth of their workforce, and hearing numbers like that—numbers that I wished to see more of at Re:co and one of the reasons I pulled information from the "Cost of Production" event—were startling. ÑAshley Rodriguez The 2019 Re:co event included a daily "Sensory Experience," which covered sensory elements from taste to touch to texture. Presentations included tasting a batch brew fractioned into stages of the brew process, delivered by Mackenzie Batali, a Ph.D. student at University of California, Davis; exploring anticipatory senses, which integrate not only properties of food and drink, but from the environment such as color, texture, and shape of serving vessels; and examining the fl uctuations in tea fl avors that come with aging, as demonstrated by Rishi Tea (top photo), which off ered a endees an opportunity to experience the diverse fl avor profi les of a single Pu'er tea aged to diff erent maturities. Lower photo: The 2019 Re:co fellows assembled on stage to tell a endees a li le about the program, which aff ords selected applicants the opportunity to a end the symposium. Fellows are selected based on their potential to drive the future of coff ee. PHOTOS BY JORDAN SANCHEZ, SCA 32 barista magazine

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