Iridescent Holiday Blend (Counter Culture Coffee)
Each year as the holidays approach, Counter Culture Coffee creates a special, limited-edition winter blend dedicated to celebration and good cheer. They earmark $1 from each pound of Iridescent sold for a special project fund. The themes of those projects vary year-to-year, but the overall concept stays the same—a focus on increasing the resilience of coffee farmers and their communities. This year, they’re using the Iridescent money to fund three projects that will increase farmers' access to the market. Iridescent offers an approachable flavor profile that is still complex with sweet notes of chocolate and berry.
Knowledge is power, and not having access to information about how coffee is evaluated, bought, and sold puts many farmers at a disadvantage compared to others in the coffee market. This imbalance often has economic consequences when farmers don’t have the information, infrastructure, or communication tools needed to assess the value of their coffee, make informed economic decisions about their farm, or reach new prospective buyers. That’s why this year, we’re using the Iridescent funds for farmer-identified projects that will increase market access for producer-partners in Colombia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
A portion of the money will go toward the construction and outfitting of a cupping lab in Embu, Kenya. The Kenyan auction system limits the feedback farmers get about their coffee—quality tiers, defects, cup scores, etc.—which makes it difficult for them to decide what to do differently with their harvest for the next season in order to receive higher prices. In order to facilitate better access to this type of information, Peter Mbature, manager of the Kamavindi Estate in Embu, Kenya and quality director of the Kushikamana group in the Mt. Kenya region, is using Iridescent project funds to help construct and outfit a cupping lab on his property. With this lab, Peter will teach farmers about physical and cup quality analysis of coffee and how they can use it to get a better understanding of the practices on their farm.
Taking advantage of recent changes in Ethiopian coffee laws, 30 farmers from the Gedeo zone have joined together to form the Jabanto group. Acting as their own exporter for the first time this year, one of the biggest challenges for this group is lack of access to communication infrastructure. Jabanto is using their Iridescent money to fund the rental and outfitting of a shared office space. Having a computer and internet access will not only help these farmers find additional buyers and facilitate the logistics of exporting their coffee, it will also give them access to national and international market information to inform their pricing decisions, information about new agronomic technologies, and the ability to communicate—in their own words—the stories they want to tell about their coffee.
Counter Culture will use the last portion of the Iridescent 2018 funds to host Angela Patiño Findlay at our Headquarters in Durham, where she’ll learn about U.S. coffee culture, how we evaluate and sell coffee, and spend time taking English language classes. Angela works with her husband Carlos to develop new supply chains for us in the Santa Maria and Santa Fe regions of Nariño, Colombia. Knowing how coffee is evaluated, roasted, and sold remains a knowledge gap for many coffee farmers. Angela wants to use what she learns here to think about what she can change in their cupping lab in Colombia in order to give farmers better information about their coffee and what practices will help them sell higher volumes of high-quality coffee. By learning English, she hopes to serve as a connector and bring more clarity to the communications between farmers and buyers.
Although the exact blend components will change in order to keep Iridescent tasting its best, it will always have at least one coffee associated with these projects. For more information about these projects, visit our blog.