Sorry its been so long for me to close this week off, but I have my reasons. Firstly its been a nightmare since my return, a mixture of Jet lag and not feeling well with it being mega busy, has meant the blog has gone by the by. Also one thing Bolivia taught me was my laptop was rubbish. My love for my Iphone made me decide to swap 100% across from evil Bill to Steve Jobs apple. People who have been there in the past will feel my pain. Getting a printer to work is now a major time consuming task. But enough of that I’m sure I’ll talk more in later posts but this is my first apple post.
So The final day was great, everyone liked the winning coffee, not my favourite, but the whole top ten was great, I mean truly great. This competition has proven to me what I thought I already knew. Bolivia has the potential to be one of the best producers of coffee in South America and should be getting more for there coffee in the market place. With the correct organisation (some one like Anacafe in Guatamala or the Conservo of El Salvador) to get the whole marketing and introduce sellers to buyers, would mean they could clean up, really clean up. The typical profile is so geared towards espresso, its sweet balanced big body but diverse enough to have challenging acidity and make it complex. The unique high altitude farms mean every cup has character and is of high quality.
Its problems are its land locked so no ports to ship from everything has to go across land, it is an incredibly poor country, and very disorganised. I wish and I hope they can get there act together. Some of the people I meet I think are well up to the Job and are stepping up to the plate, good times are ahead.
I also think big props to USAID (United States Agency for International Development) who helped the program to go ahead this year (there were others too but too many to name). The people I met from the agency were so forward thinking and such nice people, I must admit when I set of I was worried with all these guys involvements but there was no need a great job.
But the biggest plaudits have to go to the COOP’s and the growers organisations who set a new president in signing a document to say they would work together on the cup of excellence program. These people have lots to loose. But they looked at the bigger picture and realised that by working together the prize was far bigger.
I think a head judge to a jury member really make or break a competition, but this time there was some one else. The work done by Erwin who was going to be head judge until family circumstances meant he was unable. You could see when he arrived at the competition on the Thursday how pleased everyone was to see him. The reason the competition happened this year, and was such a success.
So final thoughts. The people were the same as 2005 many treated me like an old friend and I hope that is what we are good friends. The coffee is simply fantastic and it is somewhere we will be doing some very close work this year and more so next. The potential in this country is huge. I also feel a very close bond to the country, the only place I’ve been able to go back to twice, the football passion we share, but also our passion for coffee and the passion for the quality of coffee. I loved Bolivia in 2005 and I love it in 2007, I hope to go back soon, and if time tables allow next year. Cup of excellence competitions are hard work and I don’t care hat any one says. We cupped 524 bowls of coffee over the five days, and filled in endless cupping sheets, and endless evaluation discussions to get to the winner. But I’ve come away a better cupper, a more tolerant person and a lot calmer (in bed most nights at 10pm) and blessed with being able to try some of the finest competition coffees I’ve ever tasted. Viva Bolivia!!!