Tagged "Five Senses"


East Africa – Transformation Through Coffee

Posted by Keith Yee on



East Africa – Transformation Through Coffee
 
It was the middle of June and ripe coffee cherries were abundant, thriving at the peak of harvest season in the heart of East Africa. Without second thought we seized the opportunity to journey across the ocean and meet our producing partners and friends, good people with an adamant drive to transform farming communities through specialty coffee in this part of the world.
Our first stop was Burundi – landing in the capital city of Bujumbura – and visiting the team at Long Miles Coffee Project.  It’s the busiest time of the year with their washing stations running round-the-clock operations, farmers delivering coffee cherries daily and going straight into the sort, process and drying.
 
Sorting coffee cherries at a transit center to track quantity and quality of farmer’s harvests, before reaching the Bukeye washing station.
 
Raised drying beds at Bukeye washing station. Some beds are allocated for natural process coffee, others for washed process coffee.
 
Heza washing station perched in the middle of Gitwe hill.
 
Post-sorted coffee cherries running through a McKinnon wet pulper, outer layers of the fruit is removed and then separated by density.
While it all happens, various roasters and coffee buyers from all around the world are travelling in to taste and select fresh crops to eventually go onto their coffee programs in the coming months. To current day, the LMCP team works with farming communities of 12 neighboring hills that are within vicinity of the washing stations, Bukeye and Heza. Each hill expressed their distinct merits – and among hundreds of lots – we’d find the occasional off the wall coffee of astounding qualities, simply blessings for the tongue.
 
Various lots from the washing stations that were milled at the LMCP headquarters in Bujumbura, ready to be roasted and sampled.
Tasting through different lots and hills in a traditional coffee cupping.
 
The team at Long Miles is confronted with new challenges every harvest, yet there’s nothing under the Sun they wouldn’t better just to realize potential for their growing communities. As production scales so does the difficulty of managing a consistent process. This year we’re seeing new takes on controlled, measured, and monitored processing to ensure our coffee continues to be delicious and more.
 
Visiting Burundi held us spellbound, and we’ve recognized its contagious gift. As you step into the Long Miles office, it doesn’t take long to realize the potential for Burundi, the coffee, and the people.
 
As we said our goodbyes, the memorable coffees and luscious local avocados, our journey didn’t stop there as we took to the southern highlands of Tanzania to meet a remarkable couple that founded social enterprise and specialty producer, Communal Shamba.
 
Overlooking ripe coffee crops in Songwe, Tanzania’s southern region.
 
Keremba and Mkunde, the founders of Communal Shamba.
 
Keremba, passionate for agricultural development and Mkunde, an expert in medical research, both decided to return to Tanzania after living in Australia for many years. The goal is creating sustainable impact for farming communities in rural regions of Mbeya and Songwe. Enrolling themselves as farmers into the local farmer co-operative ‘Mkulima Kwanza’, they emphasize on collaborating with growers, connecting them to an international market for specialty coffee.
 
Here is Keremba with contributing farmers from Mkulima Kwanza. The farmer’s daughter, Rebecca, helps her father with translations now and then. Her generation of young Tanzanians study English in school.
 
Coffee cherries are being sorted before drying. The ladies at the producer level that help with farming and processing are known as the ‘Mamas’.
 
Communal Shamba is one of the youngest producing partners and exporters we’ve been so fortunate to meet. Last year was the first production, with just over 1 ton of ready-to-export green coffee, the least possible amount needed to start the ball rolling. Understandably, farmers take time to build trust in supplying their coffee cherries to a very new, completely foreign processing facility.
 
Let’s not forget to mention, they are the only recognized natural processing facility in Tanzania. The first year has proven the benchmark potential for a specialty grade, natural product for southern Tanzania. This resulted in an increased dollar value for better picked, sorted, and processed coffee. Inevitably motivating new farmers to collaborate with Communal Shamba.
 
This year’s production is projected at least a ten-fold increase to 10 ton of ready-to-export green beans and possibly more, allowing them to reach out to a wider international coffee buying market. With support for friends in industry – even Long Miles Coffee Project –
Communal Shamba knows how to break grounds for a new coffee community.
 
This is it, the Communal Shamba processing facility. Drying beds are being built as cherries arrive to cope with rapidly increasing production.
 
One of the most exciting moments from our visit was making conversation with members of the Mkulima Kwanza co-op, including heads such as the chairman himself. We discussed opportunities and challenges for farmers. A big challenge was the picking as farmers have plenty of coffee trees and many other crops to tend to. Labor is expensive so the picking is often done by the farmer and maybe with help of his family. Sometimes cherries are picked with less attention for a time efficient harvest, resulting in a tedious sorting.
 
 
After speaking to the co-op farmers that were helping at the drying beds when we visited, where we conceived initiative ‘Champion Grade’.
 
An idea was brought to the table of producing a single ready-to-export bag (70kgs) of only a specific ripeness and color of cherries that were at full fruit maturation and sugar development. This meant harder work for farmers, but it was just one bag to see how high the cup quality bar could be set. Humorously the name ‘Champion Grade Cherry’ cropped up and that name stuck. There was an amazing response from Mkulima Kwanza farmers as they take the leap of faith, promising 500kgs – if not more – for this special project.
 
The chairman of Mkulima Kwanza taking the charge on his ‘Champion Grade Cherry’ pick at his own farm, only a day after our conversation.
 
These boys are pushing some freshly picked coffee cherries to the Communal Shamba processing facility, while striking a candid pose.
 
Champion Grade Cherry
 
As specialty coffee roasters, it’s humbling and enriching to be reminded that it’s good people producing great coffee, transforming communities along the way.
 
We’re happy and proud to share these coffees with our partnering cafes and of course the people that enjoy them as much as we do.
 
Burundi: With Ben Carlson (LMCP) and Ben Bicknell (Five Senses) on Ninga hill, where a third washing station will be built and the nursery for Trees For Kibira.
 
Tanzania: With Mkulima Kwanza, Communal Shamba, and Five Senses.
The talented Tanzanian photographer Osse Greca Sinare, who accompanied us on the trip, captured these beautiful photos. See the rest of his work online – and while you’re at it – the work of our partners, Long Miles Coffee Project and Communal Shamba;
Otherwise, please do find yourself a brew from one of these producers at our stores, because the coffee is delicious.
Read more →

Burundi's coffee future is bright (and sweet!)

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

As we come into a new season (at least in terms of coffee) here in Singapore, let's take a closer look at one of our new exciting beans from a little known region of East Africa. I am of course talking about the honey process bourbon from the Heza Washing Station on Nkonge Hill, Burundi with its delicious notes of syrupy raspberry, vanilla bean and a smooth, lingering body.

Some of you might be scratching your head in confusion as to where exactly in the world Burundi is; I know when I first heard of this fine bean I had to have a quick Google geography brush-up. Let me be your search engine and give you a little run down on this small but promising coffee growing country.

Nestled between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in East Africa, Burundi is a small country with a population of about 10 million people. It is one of the five poorest countries in the world with the lowest GDP on earth. Agriculture is their biggest industry, accounting for 58% of GDP and coffee is Burundi’s largest source of revenue, making up 93% of exports. So coffee is a big deal there!

Burundi has been producing coffee for decades, but has only recently looked to enter the specialty market. The underlying quality is undeniable and the producers’ desire to produce world class specialty coffee in this relatively young industry is encouraging. 

One such star is a set down a winding six kilometre walk from the Heza Washing Station on Nkonge Hill, where water from the natural springs find its way to these hillside coffee farms, making sure the soil is always well irrigated. Nkonge’s high elevation, at 1200masl, fosters a denser, slower growing coffee bean which, coupled with the nutrient rich soil, produces some of the most floral and sweet cups in the Long Miles Coffee Project collection. Unlike coffee from well-established origins, the ‘typical Burundi coffee character’ is hard to isolate especially since the region has battled with the the greatest and smallest bug, the Antestia bug. This bug infects coffee cherries by drilling a small hole into the skin, once roasted and ground the overall effect is to make the coffee taste like raw potato. However, through schemes like the Long Miles Coffee Scouts, farmers are given the training and support they need to spot this defect in the beans before they reach the packer, creating a more reliable crop and producing the clean, fruity, sweet and complex cups that we have now come to expect from Burundian coffee.

Have you tried a cup of Burundi yet? Head down to the cafe from Thursday to try out a filter brew or grab a bag of your own from CMCR Online shop. Trust us, you won't be disappointed it's UnCommonly good.

Photo by Long Miles Coffee Project.
Read more →

CMCR x SCF

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

Last weekend saw Common Man Coffee Roasters attend the inaugural Singapore Coffee Festival at the F1 Pit Building. Overall the event was a great success with the mini Common Man cafe selling over 1,500 coffees alongside our signature Turkish Common Man breakfast and fluffy pancakes. 

We also had an overwhelming response to our Lab classes which sold out every day over the weekend. Over 700 people attended to learn about the fundamentals of being a barista and giving some latte art a go. We also had informative talks from Five Senses' Director of Coffee Jacob Ibarra, not to mention an amazing talk from Leo Purba and Lisa Lyles owners of the Tiga Raja Mill and Lisa and Leo's Organic Coffee in Northern Sumatra. Their talk gave a detailed insight into coffee at it's origin, from planting, processing and packing. 

We would like to give a huge thank you to all of you who braved the rain and queues to make this such a great event and if you didn't make it, we hope to see next year! 

For any further information on our Academy classes please see the 'Academy' tab of the website or email training@cmcroasters.com.

Read more →

Ice, Ice Baby: Exploring Cold Coffee

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

CC Cold Coffee

Summer is coming and it’s time to step up your cold coffee game! Cold coffee can be refreshing and fun but we also want to make sure it can champion unique origin characteristics, a necessity for specialty coffee.

In the next edition of our Curated Cupping, we explore the concepts and science behind the various methods and recipes for preparing cold coffee drinks — everything from chilled espresso to cold brew, cold drip and beyond.

This is a free public cupping where everyone is welcome. Join us to level up on cold coffee!


Curated Cupping

Ice, Ice Baby: Exploring Cold Coffee

When
6:30pm, Thursday 29 October

Where
Common Man Coffee
22 Martin Road, #01-00
Singapore 239058

Read more →

Nordic Coffee: Stand, Cup & Conquer

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

NordicVikings, Abba and Ikea — the northern kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden strike fear into the hearts of thousands.

For the coffee world though, they’ve often been mystical lands where filter coffee reigned supreme and people drank litres of specialty coffee daily. We’ve reached out to our friends roasting up a storm across the oceans, to curate an exciting cupping showcasing a tasty snapshot of the Nordic scene — join us to learn more about this influential coffee culture!


Curated Cupping

Nordic Coffee: Stand, Cup & Conquer

When
6:30pm, Wednesday 30 September

Where
Common Man Coffee
22 Martin Road, #01-00
Singapore 239058

Read more →