An Update from Burundi:
Starting to Sow the Seeds of Trees For Kibira!
We say it often but traceability and sustainability runs at the core of CMCR’s business particularly when it comes to sourcing our coffee. This year we took a new step to building a meaningful and lasting relationship with one of our origins by partnering with the Long Miles Coffee Project (LMCP) to support their reforestation project, Trees for Kibira.
The aim is to establish a new green belt to wrap around and through the coffee producing communities of the Kayanza region. This will help build soil health and bolster the existing microclimates against raising temperatures as well as give much needed shade to the farmers and coffee growers that call this region home.
How are we doing this?
The vision is to expand and renew life to the Kibira Forest by planting new seedlings and investing in the community to manage and protect the forest for years to come. This is not a short term project, it will run for at least 30 years and in reality it’s an investment in a community for a lifetime.
What’s been happening?
CMCR kicked off the project in May 2018 with a series of events across Singapore and Malaysia. The biggest event was our coffee day on 12th May on which we managed to raise $13,148.50!
We’d like to thank our amazing café partners who made the day possible in both Singapore and Malaysia - The Lokal, The Glasshouse, Whisk, Room 203, China House Penang and Milligram Coffee as well as our own cafes.
Five Senses Australia (FSA) followed up with their own coffee day across Australia which saw them raise AUD$9,140 with the support of Howdy Coffee, Hush Specialty Coffee, Three Bags Full, Touchwood, West Juliett, Regiment, Drummer Boy Cafe, Whistle & Flute & Bunker Coffee.
In June, the CMCR team met up with FSA and LMCP project in Burundi to learn a little more about the project, the community we are supporting and of course the coffee that this is all ultimately about. It was quite a bumpy road (literally) heading upcountry to see the Kibira forest but it’s amazing to see first hand the 1,360 seedlings that had been quietly growing in the nursery and the site of the project itself. It was also very encouraging to speak to the communities and rangers that live and work in this forest to hear what it means to them and how our contribution can help affect change in their lives.
On 27th September the project was officially launched with the appointing of Matthew Gates as Trees for Kibira Project Manager by LMPC.
Bringing with him a wealth of agro-forestry knowledge, Matthew pushed the project forward to the next stage with the planting of 60,000 seedling, including 150 indigenous cashew trees. These seedlings are now happily living in their germoirs awaiting the next stage of their exciting journey!
On 2nd November, the first tree was planted at the farm! LMCP’s team then spent the rest of November contouring and terracing the model farms on Nkonge and Gitwe, as well as using their network of ‘Farmer Friends’ to discuss tree planting strategies and design a community programme going forward. Soon 60,000 trees will have a home in fields and spaces in between the edge of the Kibira Forest and Heza washing station with a new network of ‘Farmer Friends’ emerging.
The plan is to building on this next year with the launch of a 'Forest Scout' programme alongside LMCP’s Coffee Scout programme with a team who are dedicated to the reforestation project.
It’s very exciting for us at CMCR to hear of the work that is being done in Burundi to ensure that this dynamic region continues to thrive, and selfishly(!), provide us with some of the most delicious coffee of 2018 – we’re looking at you Nkonge Hill! We’re looking forward to working with LMCP for years to come and sharing the stories of this amazing project with you as we aim to invest in not only great coffee but good people too!
Keith Yee, CMCR Academy Trainer
“Keith, are you keen on becoming a barista trainer?”
This was the question proposed to me by Matt (our GM) one and half years ago, my answer? For sure! what a great opportunity to work in such interesting position so I took up the offer and here I am today.
Some people might wonder what the job scope of a barista trainer is and what we do when there is no training, so this is an account of a typical day as a barista trainer at Common Man Coffee Roasters.
8am: I start my day just like everyone else, with a cup of coffee. I sit down and check my schedule for who I am going to train today so I can prepare mentally prepare myself for both the students and the content that I need to deliver. Today I have a public fundamental barista skills class and then on-site training for one of our wholesale clients in the afternoon.
Once I'm done, I take some time to check my emails for training enquiries from wholesale clients and public students and make the necessary arrangements to book them in. This can be really tricky as I have to prevent class clashes with the different clients, difficult when we have over 70 wholesale clients to manage not to mention public students too!
9am: Class begins! This is a Fundamental Barista class, it's going to last for three hours finishing around 12pm. What I love the most about my job is that I get to meet people from different industries and even countries but everyone come here only for one purpose, a passion for COFFEE!
12pm After the session ends, I head up to Grounded for our weekly sales meeting with the team.
Then it's time for lunch which I normally spend hanging out with the Grounded baristas and enjoying the CMCR staff meal!
2pm It’s time to head out of my usual training ground for some on-site training with one of our wholesale clients, Atlas Coffee Embassy. On-site training can be very challenging because the cafe's equipment can be differ from place to place so I have to be adaptable to different machines and spaces. On top of this we sometimes, like today, I have to deal with live orders coming in as we conduct the training. Today we are mainly about the calibration and the workflow of the bar which helps when you have live orders to work with. It's a great feeling when everyone seems satisfy after a session!
Being a barista trainer in Common Man Coffee Roasters is really fun and full of challenges; it's not as easy as many people think and it can be tiring talking to so many people and drinking so much coffee (!) but still I really enjoy it nearly two years after that question kicked the whole thing off!
May Espino, CMCR Account Manager
Two years ago when I took up the role, I didn’t exactly know what an Account Manager did. At the time, I was looking to do something different, something challenging yet exciting and of course still involved coffee. I remember how anxious I was when I went on my first solo visit; I wasn’t very bold but I do remember wanting to do well and yearned to understand my role more. As with most things, as time has passed I’ve shaped this role to be my own and now love every minute of it!
One of the reasons my role is so much fun is because every day is different. In my previous role as a barista, things had become pretty routine, I would know what time I would start, would I was likely to see during the day and then knock off at the same time every day. Now as an Account Manager, my job requires me to travel all over Singapore to catch up with clients and show them lots of love and support in form of great service! I know lots of people who might wish they had my job but not everyone really understands what it takes to do it; so here is here’s a recap of a typical day in a life of me, an Account Manager at Common Man Coffee Roasters!
7am: It usually takes me just an hour to prepare for work so waking up at 7am sharp is essential. I need to make sure I have enough time for a quick bite because my day is usually 80% espresso tasting so missing breakfast and starting the day with empty stomach is probably not the best idea. Today’s menu? A quick ham and cheese brioche!
9am: One of my favourite accounts to visit early in the morning is The Clueless Goat in Novena. One, because I’ve never had a bad coffee from Zach (one of the co-owner, he really embodies perfection on every shot!) and two, it’s on my commute to the city so an easy stop off for my first coffee. They are always super crowded when I visit but after the rush-hour buzz calms down I try to catch up as much as I can.
10.30am: From Novena, I take a bus straight to my second destination, Upper Thompson. A vegan place called Brownice is finally getting their very own Synesso MVP. I am meeting Darren (CMCR’s superstar tech) here for the scheduled installation. While he’s getting the machine installed, I take the opportunity to get to know the team and talk about the new coffee programme they want to launch. When Darren finishes up, I jump in and do a quick recipe tasting to ensure that the machine is working fine and the coffee tastes amazing.
1.30pm: Next stop is Holland Village. This time to check out on Tiong Bahru Bakery’s new outlet at Chip Bee Gardens, it’s the soft launch of the outlet so a good time to say hi to the team. Really diggin’ the whole vibe of it and I can already tell that this place is gonna rock!
2pm: I’m not far from Open Farm Community on Minden Road so I decide to drop in to change the coffee machine gaskets here as it doesn’t look like Darren will be able to make it down this week. My job is not all about tasting coffee, sometime I have to get down and dirty with the machines too and let me tell you it isn’t easy to repair an Expobar without the right tools - the soup spoon definitely saved the day!
3pm: My next stop is will be City Hall and as I hear my stomach growling, I decide to have a quick stop for my favourite comfort food, Pho!
4pm: I’m within walking distance is of The Glasshouse so head over there to catch up with the team. I swear this place is always packed when I visit, though I’m happy to find an empty bar seat so I settle myself in and pass over a sample bag of Acacia Hills, Tanzania for them to try out on their next single origin brew.
5pm: For my last stop, I’ve decided to say hello to another Tiong Bahru Bakery team, this time at Raffles City. I have a brief chat with Sean (the barista), then use the rest of my time to check on my emails, do the necessary service reports and plan out my upcoming week whilst enjoying a delicious piccolo.
6pm: By now I know I am probably way over my caffeine limit of the day and already feeling the jitters, so I jump on the bus from the Capitol Building, which goes directly home and finally I can call it a day!
East Africa – Transformation Through Coffee