STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 4, Number 4

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STiR tea & coffee industry international 29 Caspersen with Counter Culture buyer Tim Hill, center, and Ismael, right, cupper at La Coopérative de Café Muungano Photo Courtesy of Twin Caspersen: When I arrived at the lab, it was a white build- ing with electrical wire hanging out of the ceiling, people were painting the walls, and there was dust and it was just an absolute shell of a lab. There was no equipment, there was no running water, and the contractor who was supposed to have been done a while before, weeks ago, was busy working on making sure the electricity was being installed. STiR: Those do not sound like ideal conditions and at that point, there was not much time to prepare, correct? How did you deal with that? Caspersen: All of the things that we take for granted in a lab, I had to do that in my four days. We went and we found butcher paper, a marker, and I got all of the people, the contractor, the electrician, the people from the International Coffee Organization of Congo, everybody in one room and said, "Okay, we need to draw out what we have." So we started drawing up all the electrical requirements on the butcher paper and said, "Okay, we need outlets here, we need outlets there. When can we get the electricity installed? And on top of that, can we please have generators? Okay, great. How many generators do we need and how many machines overall?" It was something I had never, ever done before, ever, and this was on day one. [That first day], there we are on a double-barreled Joper and we're roasting by flashlight and head lamp and trying to figure out the best roast profile for all of these wonderful coffees that we don't want to under roast or over roast, and we need them to be perfect because the following Tuesday there were 10 in- ternational jurors coming and we were going to have a coffee cupping competition. By the time we finished up the roast and got to the actual competition day, I had three perfectly organized tables ready to go. It was so gratifying! STiR: Once you got to the competition day, did everything do smoothly? Caspersen: We had the coffee samples ground out. The whole team did everything they were supposed to do. And then—Boom!—the electricity doesn't work, and then— Boom!—the generator doesn't actually support the amount of water we need to boil. STiR: You were not alone in working through issues. You had help- ers from On the Ground, the Eastern Congo Initiative, Catholic Relief Caspersen cupping with Caleb Nichols, buyer for Kickapoo Coffee Roasters, Viroqua, Wisconsin. Services, OSC (the national Congolese coffee organization), UGEAFI, SOPADCI, Muungano, and from other experienced cuppers like Caleb Nichols, buyer for Kickapoo Coffee Roasters and Dan Bailey, owner of Amavida Coffee and Tea to name just two. What was it like working with all those volunteers? Caspersen: [Volunteers from the coffee cooperatives] really listened and they really did an awesome job. We wanted them to see the back of the house, how a real competition would work. [Though] they didn't participate in the cuppings themselves, now they know how to execute, and for me that is a really pow- erful tool that we were able to leave behind.

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