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Costa Rica 2017: Single-Plot Tracking at Hacienda Alsacia

March 2. We've launched the 2017 traceability plan for Hacienda Alsacia in Costa Rica. Coffee ships this month, and GeoCertify will be mapping each bag to its original plot(s).

Hacienda Alsacia plants 5 main coffee varieties, along with micro-lots of other strains. The estate has 97 individual plots, ranging in size and elevation. Sometimes coffee from multiple lots is blended. But the high-end specialty lots will zero in on a single variety of coffee harvested from a single plot.

Case Study Rwanda: Tracking the Potato Taste Defect

March 6, 2017. Coffee in the Rift Valley region of Africa suffers a rare defect known as the "Potato Taste Defect" (PTD). Coffee attacked by a species of Antestia beetle takes on a distinct unpleasant flavor of raw potato. With one bean in a hundred affected, the disease is little understood and extremely difficult to isolate, but it's costing millions to the local coffee industries.

Since 2014, GeoCertify has partnered with Rwacof, Starbucks, and Sucafina, SA, to get a handle on this problem. Each year, separate teams from Rwacof and Starbucks evaluate approximately 20,000 cups of coffee from producers across Rwanda. GeoCertify tracks the samples, the cupping scores, and the related lots of coffee as they move from the drying tables through milling and on to arrival warehouses in Germany and the U.S. Catching the affected lots prior to shipment has proven to be a financial game-changer.

This year we're mapping the farmers--we've got the first 15,000 farmers underway.


Case Study Ethiopia: The Challenge of the Commodity Exchange

Much of the coffee in Ethiopia is traded through the ECX, the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. A commodity exchange facilitates trade by creating a fluid market for food or other products. Producers and traders benefit from a single, known price for a given product.

Despite its benefits, the commodity exchange presents a challenge for traceability. Any given unit of a product is considered equivalent to any other unit in the same classification, so the producer identity is lost when a product enters the exchange. For the specialty coffee industry, this presented a major problem--the many certification programs such as Fair Trade, for example, could not certify coffee traded through such a system.

From 2011 through 2013, GeoCertify worked with Starbucks and the ECX to implement traceability for Ethiopian coffee without compromising the function of the market. From 12,000 units the first year, to 50,000 the next, the pilot program grew to a volume of 250,000 traceable units in 2013.

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