STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 4, Number 4

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30 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 4, 2015 (August/September) Caspersen, with Todd Caspersen, at Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia in 2011 Photo courtesy Equal Exchange Caspersen cupping at Gumutindo in Mbale, Uganda in 2011 Photo courtesy Equal Exchange [Buyers spent] their own time, their own money to come to this competition. They got there and they got to see 90 plus cof- fees, and were excited about them. STiR: Africa was an interest of yours early on. Would you share a bit more about that? Caspersen: I was fascinated with Africa from the time I was in sixth grade. I wanted to go somewhere there were African studies. [There] really were not a lot of universities that had African studies, but at Wheaton they had an African American study minor. STiR: You studied anthropology there. How did you move from that to becoming a quality manager in coffee? Caspersen: I was an apprentice. I learned how to cup and grade coffee from someone else, which is what we used to do in the old days before there were these awesome classes by SCAA and barista camps. STiR: You have been involved in many projects involving coffee and women in Africa. Serving on the organizing committee for Java Jog for a Cause is one. Would you share another example from earlier in your career? Caspersen: In 2010, I was with all of these women in Ugan- da and I saw them building fires in the corner of their houses and breathing in the smoke. I thought, "This isn't right. People shouldn't be inhaling the smoke and burning fires in the corners of their houses to cook a meal for what could be five or 15 people." So I did a fundraiser to raise money to build energy-effi- cient stoves, which basically looked like adobe and they had two places for pots, but the idea is that it vents smoke out of the house or out of the cooking area, and it's more energy-efficient because they use half the amount of firewood. They're saving money, they're saving their lungs, and it actually cooks faster, [which means] less time in the kitchen [and more time] to do other things. We built 50 of stoves in the first part of the project and after raising money for more stoves, we will complete 75 more at the end of August. What is really exciting to me is that more than 15 people in three different communities have been trained to construct the stoves and now they have the power and ability to build the stoves themselves. STiR: Why do you get involved in projects like these? Caspersen: My goal is peace. If we can somehow get to a more peaceful place, it has to start with a discussion, it has to start with talking about it, and so coffee has really been part of that, a really strong part of that which is exciting. STiR: What do you want to do next in your career? It's my dream to teach the very first Q class in DRC.

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