August 17th, it was back in the air after a nice “summer” break at home while waiting on a new passport. I flew KC to Detroit, (2 hours) then Detroit to Amsterdam (8 hours), Amsterdam to Nairobi (8 hours) and Nairobi to Kigali (1 hour). Once I arrived it was late the 18th and time to go to bed. The next day, we began at OCIR preparing the room for the 21 students enrolled in this 3 day intensive cuppers training. On the 20th the classes began and we administered a series of olfactory, sensory skills, triangulation and cupping rounds. Sunday the 23rd we took the day off for students to spend with their families.
I met up with Tim Schilling the East African representative of SPREAD a USAID backed project. Tim invited me to ride along and visit farms, not coffee farms but alternative crops farms to help empower rural Rwandan’s to sustain. This particular day we visited chili pepper farms, averaging a couple of hectares, all are picked by hand, and only the ripe peppers are picked. Which means bending over hundreds, maybe thousands of times per week. To pick tiny peppers (2”) with their finger tips.
Another chili pepper farm sported a drying table, similar to a coffee drying table, where the moisture continent was dried to 10% before shipping. Needless to say I was impressed with Tim’s project, and admired the effort that went into it by the farmers.
Monday the 24th, I offered re-takes of all the test we had given in the past few days, interestingly only 6 of the 21 showed. In the OCIR lab there are two ladies that sample roast all day everyday. Their experience shined as I gave them a roast protocol for the upcoming “”Taste of Harvest” coffee competition. Not one coffee was off by more than 2 shades, clearly these ladies experience has made them amazingly gifted roasters. August 25th, all of the prior training came together seamlessly, I chose 3 students to join 3 Q graders and myself to make up the jury of the TOH. After time well spent we did a solid calibration round to insure consistency for the responsibility of the day. Proudly, the scores were as harmonious as I have ever witnessed. Less than 10 points separated 1st and 23rd place coffees, really nice coffees to say the least sophisticated fragrance and aroma, solid body, pleasing acidity, a wide array of flavors most based with dark chocolate and caramel notes with notes of tropical limes, black currants, maple syrup resonating throughout the cup.
After a classy awards reception I was off to Burundi to teach “Q” school, and judge their “Taste of Harvest”