In order to assist multiple entrepreneurs at the same time, PUM organises seminars on a frequent basis. The PUM expert involved can share the necessary knowledge at a seminar and follow up with the companies directly. Or individual companies can be visited first so common problems can be identified, forming the basis for a joint seminar. Please read about our expert Sipke de Schiffart who conducted a seminar in Peru to provide training to local coffeefarmers.
PUM’S COFFEE CONNOISSEUR
PUM expert organises seminar for coffee cooperatives in Peru
Sipke de Schiffart knows all about coffee and taste. To use technical jargon: he is an expert in sensory analysis. Two coffee cooperatives in Peru wanted to know how their coffee, in terms of taste, quality and price in particular, compares with coffee in the rest of the world. Also, they wanted to have their own people trained in tasting. The PUM expert gave a seminar to transfer knowledge to small farmers who hope to earn more with their coffee.
Cupping is the practice of observing the taste and aroma of coffee. This process starts with the green coffee bean and ends with assessing the aroma and taste sensation of brewed coffee. While coffee cupping must be as objective as possible, personal taste obviously plays a role.
So many people, so many opinions
Sipke de Schiffart: “It’s impossible to train people to become expert coffee tasters within just a week and a half. Just consider that 20 per cent of the global population has a basic tasting deficiency (but nevertheless has an opinion). And that 60 per cent can taste and has an opinion, but that you cannot call that group ‘expert’. Only the last 20 per cent has that potential, but identifying them is a challenge. Tasters were of course already at work there and I could further improve their skills. Assessing how their coffee compares with that of the rest of the world was the other aspect. That’s important to know as it enables you to determine the value of your coffee on the global market and how to market the commodity.”
During that same PUM mission, Sipke visited another coffee cooperative in Peru, to which some 900 farmers are affiliated. What could he achieve within the limited period of two weeks? Sipke: “I indicated what they could do to improve agriculture – pruning, fertilising – and sales, especially as regards the quality of the coffee beans. The roasting process is especially important, just consider the temperature/time curve. Knowledge of this relatively technical matter can help create a better product.”
Global coffee market
Coffee is the world’s most important commodity, second only to oil. Like oil, the price of coffee undergoes volatile fluctuations on the global market. For coffee cooperatives, access to knowledge about product and market demand is essential for ensuring a constant quality and steady income flow. PUM can help cooperatives who do not have direct access to that knowledge by offering easily available expertise.
Sipke de Schiffart was first a purchaser at Kanis & Gunnink, then later became the head of the quality department. After gaining experience at several places abroad, including a Douwe Egberts plant in France, he returned to the Netherlands, where he turned his attention to product development. He was involved in the introduction of Senseo, for example. Later, he furthered his career in the USA and Brazil. He has in the past forty years been responsible for the ‘sensory quality’ of all Douwe Egberts coffee products worldwide. “That was a lot of coffee, a lot of people and a lot of production plants.” Incidentally, his training is in agriculture, namely at the University of Guelph (Canada). Only later during a test did he find out that he had a skill for tasting. He has since performed around thirty missions for PUM. The combination of his sensory talent and agricultural expertise is rare.