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The objective of PECA is to educate and train producers about the best practices so that they can succeed in the specialty market. Therefore, this year we introduced the Escuelas de Campo para Agricultores - ECAS (Farmer Field Schools). This new program has been implemented in the 32 municipalities where we currently source coffee from in Colombia. Once a month, in each municipality, our technicians organize an afternoon with local and regional producers. The program revolves around building community and participating in interactive and educational games and activities. The games all incorporate learning about to coffee harvest and post-harvest processes, encouraging learning in a fun and supportive environment.

We also conduct cupping and quality analysis sessions with the help of our quality analysts, in which we introduce defects to the producers and show them the physical and sensorial difference between commercial and specialty coffee. The idea is that producers understand our criteria to buy or reject their coffee. This activity also helps with the interaction and communication between producers, as they have the space to talk and share experiences and ideas with other producers. At the end of the activity, technicians hold a feedback session where each producer has the opportunity to share facts and ideas that can contribute to other farmer's operation. This new program has received an enthusiastic response by producers, with more than 50 producers participating in our last workshop.

The main harvest in the North of Ecuador started in early May after a small delay due to strong rains. The northern region includes the provinces of Carchi, Imbabura and Pichincha. Samples and lots are being delivered to our warehouse in Quito as we speak, as producers look for feedback about this year’s quality and how to continue improving. We are looking forward for great quality in this main harvest!

After yet another challenging year in El Salvador, our shipments are finishing up. In the face of difficulties sourcing quality lots, we managed to buy some very interesting washed coffees from small producers in Chalatenango, as well as honey and naturals from larger producers in Ahuachapan and Sonsonate.

Now that the harvest has ended, our PECA team is focusing our efforts on soil analysis and crop surveys to find potential producers who can possibly enter the PECA program this year. These producers will receive exceptional assistance on cup quality, sustainability, farm management and efficiency.

Rains are just beginning but still very sporadically and producers are waiting for stronger rains to appear to begin fertilization.

In April we were invited to the Galapagos Islands by the Ecuadorean Ministry of Agriculture (MAGAP) and the Cooperativa de Producción Cafetalera de las Islas Galápagos (COPGALACAF) to learn about coffee culture in Galapagos and cup the best lots of the harvest.

The archipelago of Galapagos is home to one the Earth's most diverse ecosystems, inhabited by many plant and animal species not found anywhere else in the world, and famously known for its 100-year-old giant tortoises. The archipelago is a natural reserve, and coffee producers strongly believe in the conservation of nature and environment.

Despite being grown at what is generally considered low altitude (between 250 and 500 m.a.s.l), coffee farms in the island enjoy similar climatic conditions as a coffee farm located in the continent at an altitude between 1,200-1,300 m.a.s.l. This is due to the strong and cold Humboldt Current that embraces the islands year-round. The blend of rich volcanic soils, abundant sunlight and rain creates an exceptional and unique tasting coffee. During our visit, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of various lots that we cupped, so much so that we ended up buying the very best we found. If you’re interested in buying one of these special lots that we have available, feel free to enquire.

2017 was the first year of operation for our Caravela Guatemala team. Our focus this year was developing new relationships with passionate, hardworking coffee producers and finding new and exciting cup profiles they would be proud to share with our customers worldwide. We searched the country for Guatemala’s best coffees and today, as harvest is finishing, we are very happy to say that they accomplished that objective.

We have sourced coffees from 5 of the 8 Guatemalan coffee growing regions: Antigua, Atitlan, Huehetenango, Nuevo Oriente, and San Marcos. This means that not only do we have a diverse array of origins to offer, but also some very distinct cup profiles to choose from. Coffees ranging from shiny, floral and bright, to smooth, sweet, and full-bodied. We are delighted to share these coffees with you and hope you like them as much or more than we do.

Mark Howard, our Australian Sales Director, visited Beneficio San Vicente (BSV) in the early part of May, which is technically the peak of the harvest, as the 'late harvest' begins July-August. This year the plantation's in the Santa Barbara region are looking healthy and plentiful. Weather has been favorable and consistent with the harvest cycle. Mark reported it was inspiring to witness both the push for quality and continual community impact work that Angel and Benjamin Paz and the whole BSV team have tirelessly sown into this super interesting region.

This year, our second year working with BSV, we are thrilled to present some new producers exclusive to Caravela Australia, most of whom are harvesting coffee for the first time! If you'd like to be a part of this unique and special relationships please get in touch with our Australian office.

The last week of April we hosted our annual ‘Aromas del Pico’ Cupping and Auction in Veracruz, Mexico. The objective of this event was to select some of the best coffees from all around Mexico and showcase to our customers the high potential of Mexican coffees. This year we saw a significant increase in the number of lots submitted to the competition, with over 40 lots making the 85-point cut for the final cupping round with the international cuppers.

After 3 days of cupping, half of the 40 finalists made the cut to the auction. The average scores of the top 20 samples on the table went from 85 to almost 90 points. At the auction the top 3 scoring lots all achieved prices above USD 20.00/lb. The winning lots are currently being milled and readied for shipping.

The Nicaragua Cup of Excellence 2017 Auction will be held on June 1st. We are very proud to announce that five of the coffee farmers we work with in Nicaragua, are finalists this year, having placed 3rd, 6th, 12th, 19th and 24th, from a total of 25 lots that earned the coveted Cup of Excellence award. We are very proud and happy to see the quality improvement being achieved by these farmers and the recognition that they are receiving for their hard work and passion.

The lowest score of the 25 winning lots is 86.08. This means that all these lots are truly outstanding. We wish the best of luck to the 25 winning farmers in the online auction, which starts at 9:00 AM EST. Please click here to follow the auction live.

The rainy season has ended in Peru as the country heads into the winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Early harvests of low to mixed quality from all over Peru are starting to trickle into the cupping labs. Our new Caravela Peru team of quality analysts and PECA tecnólogos have just returned from an intensive training period in Colombia and are heading out into field to work with farmers in Cusco and Cajamarca. We are continuing our work with producers and coops who we got to know last year, and everyone is excited to see what this harvest brings.

Good concentrated rains this year mean high expectations for quality and volume. Main harvests will begin in June, and continue into September. With our team on the ground we are excited to continue developing our relationships across Peru and continue educating producers about how to improve quality. Key focus areas for producer education here will be selective harvesting of ripe cherries, dialing in fermentation times, and improving the consistency of drying techniques. Stay tuned for samples from the Cajamarca region July onwards, and samples from Cusco August onwards.