|Starbucks quality manager Anthony Carroll.|
Photo by Ralph Gaston
Dr. Robert Hollingsworth, a research entomologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, talked about the farm side of quality. Keeping farms clean and free of fallen and overripe or dried out coffee beans is the most important preventive for infestation of the coffee berry borer, he said, acknowledging that the pest has devastated some farms on this island. He told farmers at Ka`u Coffee College that coffee berry borers can live only a few days outside the coffee cherry and bean. If farms are clean between harvests, borers have nowhere to live, said the entomologist. He said that some farmers in studies elsewhere task pickers to clean fields every few weeks even when they are not harvesting. The cost of paying pickers to clean up fields could be less than the cost of chemicals and labor to apply chemicals to fend off coffee berry borers, he said. During harvest, he recommended, pickers can carry two containers, one for old and overripe beans that are considered trash and one for beans going to the mill.
|Jeff Taylor, of PT's Coffee Roasting Co., talks about picking as one of the most|
important aspects of quality coffee. Photo by Julia Neal
Jeff Taylor, of PT’s Coffee Roasting Company in Topeka, Kansas, said that Incentivizing pickers to refrain from picking green beans leads to a much better product and higher prices. He was one of the speakers in a Reverse Trade Mission for which coffee experts and buyers were brought to the Ka`u Coffee Festival. He and his colleague from Finca de Las Planas gave examples of giving prizes like bicycles and chickens for those who pick the best coffee without the green beans. Counting on the floating and separation of green and ripe beans by machinery at the mill “won’t have a good quality.” Said Taylor, “you have to draw the line somewhere. You can’t let your pickers run your business and pick green beans.” Taylor said that farmers can also give orientation classes to pickers before putting them in the field to help them understand why picking the best beans will help everyone become more successful.
Taylor, who is a nationally renowned micro-roaster, talked about roasting coffee light, saying that dark coffee is like giving someone a well done steak. He contended that medium light and light roasts bring out the true taste of the coffee.