Auction Season

Were just about to go full on into the busiest auction season known to the Specialty coffee world ever. In the space of the next six weeks there are six auctions all from Central America. Having just seen the successful Colombia Cup of Excellence competition where prices reached an average $6.73 per pound, we now move to Nicaragua next week, then Guatemala and then Costa Rica and then El Salvador and ending up in Honduras. I expect an expensive few weeks ahead for Has Bean so no asking for discounts !

One auction I’m keeping my eye on is the one this week from Panama. The Best of Panama (BoP) auction last year reached dizzy heights with the wonderful La Esmerlda reaching $50 a lb fob price the highest auction price for coffee ever. This was very special coffee that was reported by a friend and I completely agree “the most uncoffee like tasting coffee I’ve ever tasted”.

The rest of the auction didn’t excite in the price department (although number two and three I tried were very good coffees and reports from others in the industry were favourable). The best of Panama is run by the SCAA and isn’t a cup of excellence event, so I really need to find out more about it as a competition but it will be interesting to see how bidding goes. Will I be bidding? I’m not sure with an array of fantastic coffees from 5 countries, from a competition and system I know lots about taking the lions share of my coffee budget for the year, is the BoP a bridge too far? There are lots of things to consider when spending a large amount of money on coffee, and yes taste Is number one but things like shipping, milling, transparency, aims and goals of organisation, what happens if things go wrong the list is endless and something I lose sleep over regularly.

It’s a shame I wish things like this fit under one umbrella, that the coffee world could pull together for the good of the coffee farmer, and also for the good of someone who gets forgotten a lot in these discussions for the good of the consumer. But ego’s and politics mean people want to empire build and things split off in different directions, and not always for the better.

Good things to happen in recent years was Last Year Guatemala coming back to the Cup of Excellence auctions after trying there own thing realising the format and the organisation bring something special to coffee competitions and most importantly high prices for all winning farmers. Another great sign is this year Costa Rica coming back after breaking away with another type of competition., all that’s left to do is to keep growing on that solid platform.

So I’m grumpy over the next few weeks, you will know why, but come July/August when they start arriving in port and we start getting out hands on these wonderful special coffees, I’m sure I’ll cheer up.

But one thing I do know I’m looking forward to cupping this one.
Panama La Esmerelda

Kenya Gethumbwini

OK time for a coffee post (at last I hear you cry).

All good things come to those who wait its true I’ve experienced it myself. Last year Kenya coffee for me was poor. They suffered droughts and a real drop in the huge quality its become renowned for.. Lots of other coffee roasters stocked coffee that was ok or all right just so they could offer a Kenyan. We resisted and didn’t give in, it was tough as Kenya is one of our biggest sellers, but I couldn’t compromise on our quality.

Well this year its better than ever, our old favourite Gethumbwini from the Kiambu region hit our cupping table a few weeks to early but even then I could see how good it was. We sat on it for a little while longer and as it calmed and became less green we could see how fantastic this coffee is. In the cup its full of Blackcurrants and creaminess with wonderful acidity. This is Kenya coffee at its very best.

The football day

So my big day came and went. It was for sure one of my best days ever 90 minutes at the Stadium of Light. It started with a really early car journey of 200 miles. On the way a blow out on my back tyre but all was well. Me

I was never a great footballer my head was always better than my feet. But on the day I had one of my best games ever, set up our first goal and scored (yes that’s right SCORED) our second. I picked it up on the half way line and ran, and they back off so I ran some more into the area into the box and thought I’ll have a go into the top left-hand corner. At first I couldn’t believe it then I ran all the way to the half way line pointing to my son sitting in the directors area going “that’s yours son that’s yours” at the top of my voice.

I'm the dangerman

The second half the professional that plays on each side for the opposition didn’t like the way we dominated them so scored two goals. Then they get a third so with 5 min’s to go three two down. Luckily we get a third to draw three three. So undefeated at the stadium of light and scored on my debut not a bad day.


I feel like I've won

Football and Coffee

I have two loves in life, coffee and football. They are both very time consuming and both very rewarding for me. This year my team Sunderland have had a great season finishing top of the championship and now into the premier league next season.

My coffee has also had a good year with some stunning coffees my trip to Guatemala and getting voted onto the board of directors for Cup of excellence. So yes I’m feeling quite happy this year that all is very rosey in my Garden I’m very lucky and I tell myself this every day. That’s not to say its forever and we need to keep working hard (as do Sunderland) but I’m a happy boy.

The final act in my football season is the chance to play 90 minutes at Sunderland’s stadium (The Stadium of Light). Earlier this year I won a Charity Auction to play a game there. Now I retired from football a few years ago mainly because I was rubbish, but this seems like one good reason to dust of my boots for one more game.

The Stadium of Light

The set up of the game is 10 vs 10 of people who won there chosen position at the auction. The other position is taken by the team captain that’s an ex professional. My favourite position is right midfield. This is the position I won, good new you would think. Well the professional on the team we are playing is in the left back position and is going to be marking me the whole game. His name Gary Bennett, and a hero of mine from the late eighties early nineties. So will I kick him? oh my no one of the hard men of the game, will I be in awe for the first half yes 100%, should he watch out the second half, you bet. Will this be an awesome experience that will be very special for me oh yes.

The managers are again ex professionals and my manager is Gordon Armstrong again another from my formative football years when I first started to follow them around the country, and this will be incredibly special too.

Inside the Stadium

Why am I telling you all this, well this blog is meant to be more than a vehicle for Has Bean its somewhere for me to share my thoughts and feelings, and for me to vent. But also we will be closed for the first time in 12 months on Friday for one day. So orders placed after 1 pm on Thursday will not go out until Monday. I hope you don’t mind and I hope you understand what a special day this will be for me. Of course I’ll share the photos on my Flickr account after the day, and thank you for understanding.

BBC world service download

Found this really interesting mp3 download from the BBC world service about coffee production.

Not so sure about the validity of some of the figures it throws out, and it’s uses some very simplistic calculations for its arguments but the point I guess is the same. I do like the chance for Starbucks to stand up for them selves. As I’ve said in the past there are green buyers that do a far worse job of looking after farmers than them.  They’re not blameless but get used as easy target by the press as they are so visible and people can easily relate to them.

The program has a really quite balanced approach to the whole argument rarely seen, but I shed no tears for the chain owners pleading poverty towards the end, kind of like saying I cant afford that Ivory back scratcher, I must be poor.