By Angela Becaty and Nicholas Watson
Coffees from Africa are some of the most desired in the world, because of particular growing conditions and varieties that contribute to distinctive tastes of African coffees. In an effort to promote and market fine African coffees, the Africa Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) has been hosting a Taste of Harvest competition to recognize the best cupped coffees around Africa for the past 6 years.
Internationally, specialty coffees, high quality coffees with unique flavors and characteristics, are able to fetch premium prices in the specialty coffee market, but in the past winners of Taste of Harvest did not have a window for direct access to this niche market.
For the first time ever, AFCA in Partnership with Bean Auction, an initiative supported by SITA, has launched an online auction platform, where the best cupped coffees, can be sold in the international specialty coffee market. Cupped coffees that receive 80 points or above, qualifying as specialty coffee are then placed on the online Bean Auction, where international buyers are able to bid and buy. What is more, even micro lots of a few bags can be sold in the auction, opening up a huge opportunity for farmers and cooperatives to participate and benefit directly.
Thirty entrants participated and 1000 bags were entered for the 2016 Tanzania Taste of Harvest Competition, with only 200 bags of 4 lots, qualified as specialty. The International judges observed that there were certainly issues with the quality of coffees, but with challenges alsocome opportunities for increasing the value of the industry.
Unlike previous years where competition winners were awarded trophies and certificates, the Launch of the Bean Auction in November enabled participants to realize the financial benefit of their good quality coffees. The winning lots were able to fetch 58% above the market prices, with the top quality lot achieving 108% above the market price.
“Higher prices for farmers will teach people to work harder to improve the quality of their coffees. The Bean Auction is expected to have a positive impact and appeal for farmers to improve the quality of their coffee. We expect that there will be a lot more entrants in the next Auction.” – Primus Kimaro, Director.