AFCA Showcases New Taste of Harvest Portal at SCAA
In April, COMPETE and the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) launched AFCA’s newly-developed Taste of Harvest (ToH) web portal at the 24th Annual Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event in Portland, Oregon. AFCA opted to have the launch at the annual SCAA conference because it is the most important coffee event in the U.S. and draws more than 8,000 attendees from across the world, the majority of whom are roasters and retailers – target audiences for the new portal.
AFCA’s ToH program is the leading cupping competition in Eastern and Southern Africa and is held annually in seven producing countries in the region. The competition provides producers, millers, and exporters in AFCA member countries with a platform to showcase their coffee. While the main purpose of Taste of Harvest is to identify, catalog, and promote the region’s quality coffees, the program has a much broader impact on the development of the region’s coffee sector by facilitating linkages between African producers and international buyers. ToH coffees are evaluated by a panel of qualified judges according to the SCAA’s cupping protocol, which scores coffees on 10 key attributes: fragrance/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, clean cup, sweetness, and the overall cupper score. Taste of Harvest Coffees that receive scores 80 (out of 100) or above are considered specialty. In addition to cupping scores and flavor profile descriptions, AFCA collects contestant contact details and farm/producer information along with data about location, altitude, variety, grade, certification and size of lot. The ToH portal was designed to capture and present all of this unique data in a compelling way and allow users to interact with and search the data however they want to help better understand the region’s coffees, identify potential contacts/suppliers and aid in their buying decisions.
The importers, roasters and retailers that visited the AFCA booth at SCAA were consistently looking to expand their portfolio of African coffees but were struggling with how to go about finding new suppliers. They were therefore extremely excited by the functionality of the ToH portal and immediately recognized its value to their businesses. As it develops and evolves, the ToH portal will help AFCA in its drive to increase awareness of Africa’s fine coffees and bring producers and buyers together more effectively. While the ToH portal is certainly a useful tool to raise the profile of Africa’s best coffees and coffee producers, AFCA, through its ToH competitions, is having a tremendous impact on the coffee sectors at the country level. According to Ansha Yassin of the Duromina Cooperative in Ethiopia who won this year’s African Taste of Harvest (the regional event), “Coffee from Jimma Zone (Western Ethiopia) has historically been seen as inferior quality to coffee from other parts of Ethiopia. Winning the ToH has changed that view … Jimma coffees have finally gotten the recognition they deserve.”