LITTLE ROCK, ARK. — On Tuesday, August 23, Winrock International, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Coffee Quality Institute celebrate the arrival of Burmese specialty coffee on the world stage with a special cupping of Myanmar Community Coffee at La Colombe Coffee Roasters, 900 Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Chris Miller, lead roaster at La Colombe, will open the event celebrating Burma’s distinctive new Arabica coffee and La Colombe’s purchase of it for their selective clientele. Speakers from Winrock International, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) and Atlas Coffee Importers will tell the story of Burmese coffee, how in just three years the beans were discovered, improved and introduced to a worldwide coffee-consuming public with help from the USAID, Winrock International and partners as part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative.
The remarkable story of Burmese coffee, which coincides with the nation’s transition to democracy, began with Rick Peyser, a volunteer with the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program at USAID who identified the potential of Burmese coffee in 2013 and wrote an influential trade article about it. This led to visits from other volunteers and eventually to the creation of a new USAID project in 2014, which taught new production methods to eager growers — many of them women smallholders — who took quickly to seemingly simple but effective methods such as drying coffee beans on raised tables rather than on the ground.
A collaboration with CQI and local partners led to nationwide coffee cupping events that identified the country’s best specialty coffees and introduced a tea-drinking populace to a good cup of java. Earlier this year, the project and CQI teamed up with coffee businesses to bring global buyers directly into Burma’s remote coffee-growing areas. By mid-June, 36 tons of prime Arabica beans purchased by Atlas Coffee Importers were steaming their way from Rangoon to North America.
“I’m thrilled to be celebrating the arrival of Myanmar Community Coffee in the U.S.,” said Winrock President and CEO Rodney Ferguson. “The story of Burmese specialty coffee is the story of development’s power to change lives. This is the real thing, a perfect illustration of creating new opportunities for farmers and opening new markets for consumers. I’m so proud of the part that Winrock and its partners have played in it.”
“The pace of improvement in Burma has been unlike any other coffee-producing region where I’ve worked before,” said Andrew Hetzel of the Coffee Quality Institute. “They’ve been waiting for this opportunity. Burma has the potential and the drive to be on par with the best producer nations in the world.”
“Through Feed the Future, we have seen time and time again how investing in smallholder farmers and helping them connect to international markets helps developing nations like Burma grow their economies while reducing poverty and poor nutrition,” said Justin Finnegan, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security. “In post-conflict situations around the world, a robust coffee industry is a particularly powerful means to jump-starting local economic growth, while helping lift communities out of poverty and giving them a stake in a better future. This is the vision for our work in Burma.”
“I was invited to the initial cupping of the Myanmar coffees at a Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) session. What struck me was the enthusiasm for the project and the massive turnout. The sense of community was palpable, as was the passion for encouraging specialty coffee in a developing market. The coffees were delicious with clarity, balance, acidity and fruit flavors that were surprising for a first offering. I immediately knew that this was something that La Colombe could get behind,” said Chris Miller, lead roaster at La Colombe.
Event speakers include:
Where: La Colombe Coffee Roasters, 900 Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001
When: Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 4:00 p.m.
About Feed the Future
Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future—which is led by USAID—supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.
About Winrock International
Winrock International (www.winrock.org) is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake, Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock’s mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe.
About La Colombe Coffee Roasters
La Colombe is a Philadelphia-based coffee roaster known for ethical, long-term trade practices with growers. It provides signature classic blends and exceptional single origins to cafes, hotels and restaurants around the world. La Colombe owns and operates cafés in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
About the Coffee Quality Institute
The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) is a nonprofit organization working internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of people who produce it.
About Atlas Coffee Importers
Atlas Coffee Importers is an independently owned trading company founded in Seattle in 1998, with the intention of connecting growers and roasters in a common language of quality and mutual benefit.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016
CONTACT: Dave Anderson