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The first ECHO Asia coffee cupping was organized on March 10, 2016 at the Torch Coffee Lab located on the second floor of Omnia Café & Roastery in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Zachary Price, ECHO Asia Technical Advisor and Q-grader (certified coffee cupper) led the activity and also shared some knowledge about the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) cupping protocols, coffee processing, and tasting.

The purpose of this event was to host a small gathering of local ECHO network members, nonprofits, and business owners who work with smallholder coffee farmers—in order to share knowledge and skills needed in evaluating coffee. Each participant was asked to bring 100 grams of light roasted coffee beans for the cupping in order to analyze the quality of the beans and to discuss the attributes of each coffee.

ECHO Asia is working to support and strengthen the capacity of our network members in Asia where high value niche crops such as coffee have become of economic importance. Developing the skill of cupping coffee in order to evaluate its quality and unique characteristics is essential in helping ECHO network members succeed in endeavors to empower smallholder farmers. The end goal is to equip these farmers with the knowledge needed for high-value specialty coffee production. If ECHO network members understand how to produce and evaluate quality coffee it will enable them to speak up for fair treatment of smallholder farmers within the coffee industry, and guide these farmers to a more sustainable path. ECHO Asia Technical Advisor, Zach Price, works with NGOs and coffee business owners who work with smallholder farmers to provide both knowledge and skills that they can, in turn, share with the farmers they work with. Future trainings centered on topics such as best agricultural practices for coffee production, coffee processing methods, and coffee evaluation are all a part of ECHO Asia’s plans to better equip our network.

Thai farmers participate in a coffee cuppingThailand has established itself as one of the major coffee producers of Southeast Asia, producing an average of 900,000 60 kilograms bags of coffee each year since 2004. Thanks to the work of the Thai Government and the Royal Project, as well as domestic and international coffee companies, Thai farmers now have access to several coffee varieties and basic production knowledge.

Internationally, 80% of the world’s coffee is grown by smallholder farmers, 50% of those farmers are living in poverty and are able to provide basic living necessities for their families. As the international coffee market is beginning to push for speciality coffee and higher quality coffee, as opposed to commodity coffees or instant coffees, there is substantial opportunity for smallholder farmers to increase their position and benefit from the market.

One of the core areas of the ECHO Asia Foundation’s mission is to provide technical training, materials, and support to community development workers, organizations, grassroots networks, and farming cooperatives in Southeast Asia so that they can reduce hunger and improve the lives of poor farmers in the region. As a part of this mission, by training smallholder coffee farmers and the community development workers that support them with additional knowledge and skills to increase the quality of their coffee, ECHO Asia seeks to empower these farmers to increase the selling price of  and be able to compete against other internationally recognized speciality coffees. In order to achieve these goals,  involves training that focuses on farming practices, harvesting practices, processing methods, and sensory skills for farmers to be able to evaluate their own coffee. More training for farmers about speciality coffee means not they are both less vulnerable to be exploited by coffee purchasers and able to improve their crop and coffee product.

Currently, ECHO Asia is looking to identify interested network members to become a part of an “ECHO Asia Coffee Network.” This network will be contacted for upcoming trainings and events, receive first notice of resources pertaining to coffee, be notified of availability for coffee consultations from ECHO, and connect with organizations doing similar work and facing similar challenges. To sign up for this network, please fill out this form today!






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