Friday, November 27, 2009

coffee quintal and container revisited

As I continue to learn how this industry works, I wanted to correct my first post about 'what is a quintal?'.

When discussing green coffee, farmers, exporters and importers all talk about the price of 100lbs of coffee en oro, ready to be exported and roasted. 1 quintal (qq) is 100lbs. Coffee is exported in burlap bags and certain regions export in different bag weights: Colombia 70kg, Dominican Republic 60kg, East Africa and Indonesia 50kg (I think). The bags are all piled into a sealed container, put on a large boat, and shipped to consuming countries. Containers range from 320, 250, and 200 bags of 60kg. Moving coffee is expensive, so people try to decrease the price per pound of transport through volume.

In my experience in the DR, we talk about qq's as the measure of a production of a farm and buying and selling unit. The qq in the DR is a little different because the internal quintal is 110lbs, while the most of the world buys green coffee discuss a 100lb quintal. The weight changes on the coffee because of the level of water lost in drying in the coffee.

Here is the break down:
Humid Parchment Coffee - 100kg or 220lbs (low quality pictured)
Dry Parchment Coffee - 63kg or 139lbs (below the picture with my hand)
Green Coffee - 45kg or 100lbs

If one buys 100kg of wet parchment it should yield 45kg of green coffee. That is one of the maddening things about coffee processing. You start with a really heavy product and it yields about half the weight and size.

Those large bags behind the kids each have 1.2qq of coffee in dry parchment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Act 2

11/13/09 8:03AM Me. I'm waiting for yucca and fried eggs. I'm traveling to talk to some coffee coops.
ME
[I read in the newspaper about the crack down on a human trafficking operation involving Dominican and Haitians that bring in Haitian children to beg in the streets of Santo Domingo and Santiago]

11/13/09 3:23PM Me: arriving unannounced to talk with a coffee association. Guy at the bus stop: happened to have the phone number of the guy I wanted to meet. All in the back of a tiny truck with a steel frame to hold people on small benches facing each other. The "roof" of this transport is wooden branches and a tarp for rain. On top of the roof are several rice bags each weighing 125 lbs. With each speed bump and pot hole, the wooden "supports" flex downward about 1 inch. I turn to the Guy at the bus stop.

ME
What is the bus fare?

GUY AT THE BUS STOP
80. . .100

ME
To where I'm going

GUY AT THE BUS STOP
50


11/13/09 7:53PM Me: hungry. Coporino: the man I wanted to meet (above). Eva: his strikingly beautiful daughter. Eva's three boys: boys. Dinner: spaghetti and boiled green bananas. My second meal of the day. After eating all of mine and what Coporino didn't eat.

EVA
Are you sure you don't want more?

ME
No, but thank you. I've just killed what was killing me. I'm fine now.

EVA'S THREE BOYS
[running in and out of the kitchen and bedroom yelling and pulling on the curtins/doors]

COPORINO
How do you keep up with those little tigers?

EVA
I was made for this. This and two more. Two girls.

11/13/09 9:25PM Me. The MSG in the spaghetti leaves me tasting my mouth and craving water.
ME
[My mouth tastes delicious thanks to the MSG]
[I smile]

Act 1


11/11/09 at 11:01AM Nemo: 3 yr old, Atta: 3 yr old, Me: 29 yr old on a drying patio watching coffee dry.
NEMO
Bairon . . . caca
ME
Go home and shit in your latrine
NEMO
[looks like he doesn't understand, then reluctantly waddles towards his house]
[he makes a pit stop at the bushes]
ME
GO HOME NEMO!
ATTA
[plays on the patio and asks me lots of questions]
NEMO
[while shitting] I'm going to slap you Atta if you take my my 5 peso piece!
ATTA & ME
[we ignore him]
NEMO
[nearly shouting]
DID YOU HEAR ME? I'M GOIN' SLAP YOU IF YOU TAKE MY MONEY!
ATTA
[starts to play with the money and smiles]

11/11/09 2:07PM Diomedis and I watching clouds post big rice and bean lunch pre cafecito

ME
Do those clouds offer rain?
DIOMEDIS
Rain doesn't fall from clouds that high.

Explanation



I'm not a fan of disclaimers. They sound like excuses to me. But when used as an explanation they add meaning. Reading back over my blog it might sound like whining. DISCLAIMER: writing is my coping mechanism. So please know the doom and gloom you might read here is just me coping.

Part of the point of this blog is to illustrate the realities of origin life. So I have a new format that read as quick easy snapshots. It will read like a play the 'life' entry.

I'm back in Atlanta. It is nice. I will eat lots of turkey tomorrow. It is most likely that I'll be back in the DR in January for another month long trip. For now, I leave the next two pickings in the more-able-than-mine hands of Antonio.

Monday, November 16, 2009

life

11-14-09 3:41PM
My coffee exporter and I are in his Mitsubishi Montero en route to his dry mill.

ME: You know some buyers in the US don´t like to see bananas as intermediate shade on coffee farms. But they don´t own farms.
EXPORTER: You know Byron everyone has to have an opinion.
ME: Yup.
EXPORTER: And 50% of it is bull shit
ME: Opinions?
EXPORTER: Life. . . nothing ever seems to work.
ME: I like that. We are all living in eachothers´realities.

11-14-09 7:39PM
Post cupping some DR coffees that I´m sourcing, the rain is dumping, his Montero is plowing through puddles and we are on our way to eat pizza.

ME: You know what my beautiful problem is?
EXPORTER: No.
ME: I have no obligations to anyone. I can go anywhere with coffee. I don´t have to live on the farm. I´m single. All the advice I get from coffee people sounds really cool. And I´ve yet to get any clarity from my 6 weeks here!