December 2019 - Ethical coffee, Rock-star Sumatra Wahana Natural, 2019 in Review
Date Posted:2 December 2019
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Soren Kierkegaard
Just 3 weeks to go and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to a break after a huge year.
Please ensure you are aware of our closure period between the 25/12/19 and 1/1/20 - our store will be open to accept orders, however, no freight services are operating between Xmas and New Year.
Peak freight is upon us right now, so plan well to avoid frustration from shipping delays - this week and next week in particular are going to be stressful with freight congestion from the big online shopping events.
This month we take a look back at events and trends that affected our small corner of the coffee globe during 2019 - a detailed blog on the decline of specialty coffee in Australia, how we helped do our part to address the poverty trap afflicting coffee farmers, activism on environmental waste and the polarising rise in fake reviews.
December's Secret Label is all about doing more for coffee farmers and their communities. A fully certified FAIRTRADE Organic offering that proved a smash hit in September is backed up with a similar offering again this month. Berries, dark chocolate and that irresistible cherry ripe finish in milk, this lot is just as powerful and delicious. Incredible value at half the price of our competitors.
Our feature coffee for December is a rock-star lot from the revered Sumatra Wahana estate. This rare and exotic rasuna varietal has been full natural processed (most coffees in Sumatra are wet hulled) and scores close to 87 points ranking in the top 2% of coffees produced globally. Midori liquor, sweet spice, tropical melon, full and heavy body - incredible aromatics and flavours.
We have tasted pineapple, ginger and a broad range of amazing flavours. There is only a small amount of this special coffee, it's not going to last long - don't miss a true bucket list experience.
The ongoing problems our provider has experienced with yahoo and y7 emails bouncing is almost repaired with the latest fixes being applied this weekend.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Xmas.
December Secret Label
We wanted to share a special moment with you from this year's Secret Label program and hopefully it will make some sense as to what we have made available for this month's offering.
During 2019 we decided to build greater awareness of the plight affecting coffee farmers around the world, especially their communities and how we can help support their cause.
The FAIRTRADE system is the only genuine program that guarantees decent prices are paid to farmers and what is not always evident is the extensive, additional support work undertaken by FAIRTRADE within farming communities on education, training and assistance programs - on the ground in the areas that need it most.
Unfortunately, the global coffee industry is littered with many programs that are in fact hollow and useless paper exercises designed to garner a feel good moment and a "stamp or seal" without actually demonstrating any tangible benefits. When you see claims like "sustainably sourced", it's just an empty promise.
After more than a decade of experience in dealing with certification programs, it's only FAIRTRADE that has the complete end-to-end cycle managed - right from the bag of beans audited at the farm gate, through the transit on ships to brokers warehouses and onto the coffee roaster selling to the end-consumer, every single kilo is tracked and controlled, guaranteeing authenticity.
In September we crafted a Secret Label coffee blend from FAIRTRADE Organic lots that were not from our traditional portfolio.
It was a big challenge that at times we thought was not going to be possible as there were only a small, limited range of certified coffees available - a risk that we didn't have the same flexibility in crafting the finished product compared to the broader range of non-certified coffees.
The result exceeded our expectations. The coffee was lovely and the feedback was overwhelming - a win all round.
As customers asked for more after September, we decided to go back to the brokers and try to secure another bundle.
So, this month we are going to do a similar exercise to September - run fully certified FAIRTRADE Organic coffees, we pay the added levies to support the farmers and you enjoy the coffee - a great initiative that gives back to farmers.
Red cherries, dark cocoa, rich chocolate ganache, big bold body with a long cherry-ripe finish in milk.
This coffee punches dark chocolate notes through milk with surprising ease
For a limited time only - ending before the end of the month.
*** SOLD OUT ***
Sumatra Wahana Rasuna Natural
Back in the middle of 2012, I tasted a coffee that blew my mind - it was from one of Sumatra's highest regarded estate farms, Wahana.
But what was amazing about this coffee - a rare and exotic Rasuna varietal - it was prepared using a natural processing method, traditionally employed by farmers in Brazil and Ethiopia to enhance the sweetness, aroma, fruit, body and complexity of the coffee.
Natural processed coffees from Indonesia are a rarity and even today there's only just a very small amount of naturally processed coffees available from this origin that predominantly uses the wet-hulled method to process coffees.
We used a limited amount of Wahana natural from September 2012 through to early 2015 for feature coffees in cafes.
The cost of the coffees has always been high and the availability limited - it's exotic and rare lot with small volume imported.
A fresh lot of Wahana Natural Rasuna arrived into our warehouse last Thursday afternoon and it's a jaw-dropping coffee scoring close to 87 points, placing it into the upper-echelon of premium grade specialty (less than 2% of coffees score above 86 points).
We have only a small amount of this coffee, it's expensive but well worth the bucket list experience - a true rock-star offering and unlike any Sumatran or Indonesian coffee you have tasted previously.
Notes of Midori liquor, sweet spice and tropical melon with winey, citric acidity and a heavy body, leading to a spicy finish.
We've even tasted pineapple and ginger along with some seriously sweet fruits.
The aromatics of this coffee will astound you, flavours will amaze you - fruits exploding in the cup.
This will not last long, we have barely 20% of what we would normally hold for a feature coffee, so don't miss out, once it's gone, that's it.
A superb finish to a big year.......go on......indulge and enjoy !
1kg Whole bean packs only. Sorry, no 500g and no ground packs.
*** SOLD OUT ***
2019 - year in review
Events and trends that shaped our little corner of the coffee globe over the past 12 months.
During 2019 we helped out a few of our colleagues when their systems broke down. It's hard to imagine close to 16 tons of coffee was produced for other companies on top of our existing volumes throughout the year.
We have some exciting plans for 2020 with additional infrastructure projects that will further enhance our speed and competitive performance.
Specialty Coffee has lost it's Mojo
It was bound to happen - a loss of interest in the "noise" around the term "specialty coffee".
Read our detailed blog on how and why specialty has been losing it's mojo in Australia - Lost Mojo
Tipping Point - the crisis in coffee farming
2019 provided an opportunity for the effects of extreme poverty in coffee farming communities to be heard across the globe in a far wider audience - namely consumers.
Broader commentary, greater insights and many improvement initiatives were generated around the world to help rescue the plight of coffee farmers from the effects of commercial pressures caused by commodity trading.
We put in place a clear strategy throughout 2019 to source a higher proportion of certified FAIRTRADE coffees, ensuring farmers received a better price and the essential support from this incredible program - in our opinion, FAIRTRADE is the only genuine initiative with a visible and measurable track record of helping coffee farmers - everything else is just paperwork and hollow credentials with no follow-through or tracking.
In total, we increased our FAIRTRADE sourcing by a massive 85% throughout 2019 as a sign of our commitment to help coffee farming communities.
We expect to continue this strategy throughout 2020, or even increase as our focus in FAIRTRADE as a critical element in our corporate values.
Impact of upon the environment
Waste became one of the hot topics in 2019, especially in some parts of Australia that grappled with the scandals resulting from restrictions for handling the disposal of recycled materials.
Most responsible companies are taking a serious look at their packaging and trying to reduce the use of plastics in moving to eco-materials where there are negligible effects upon product integrity.
It's now a serious matter for producers, especially those operating in the food sector. Some products can be easily transitioned across to alternatives whilst other, like fresh roasted coffee require some steps and further development of the eco-materials and resins in order to provide adequate barrier protection.
During 2020 our coffee bags will migrate to a product with less plastics - it's the beginning of our transition to a full eco-material solution for coffee bags towards the end of 2020, or early 2021, subject to results of testing and compliance.
Our capsule products will also undergo an exciting change as we release our 3rd generation capsule in 2020.
Fake likes and followers on social media have been something that people seem to just deal with as it's often not materially impacting much that affects us in the "real" world.
These days consumers seem more reliant than ever on trusting anonymous reviews before making decisions.
Read our blog on why you can't always believe what you read with companies "buying" reviews or bribing customers in exchange for glowing testimonials - Fake Reviews
Xmas and New Year Trading Hours
Our final dispatch is midday Tuesday 24th December - there will be no freight services operating until Thursday 2nd January.
The mycuppa store will remain open accepting orders, however, customers need to be aware any orders placed after midday 24th December will be sent on the 2nd January - freight services between Xmas and New Year are too unreliable and frustrating.
Peak freight period is occurring right now - in fact it's the last week in November and the first week of December from the big online sale events (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) that result in extreme congestion - it's the worst time of the year, so please plan well and exercise patience - freight performance is not getting any better as it continues to operate in a capacity deficit.