Haitian coffee

growing, harvesting, processing, cupping, purchasing

Haitian coffee

Postby Daniel Humphries on Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:34 pm

I have been reading up on coffee in Haiti. Does anyone have cupping notes to share on coffee from Haiti? My understanding is that production is way, way down over the last 20 years, but that over the last 10 years a few medium-to-fair quality processing stations have brought some decent, sweet, Caribbean-style beans to market, which have gone over fairly well in the markets they have reached.

Anyone been on a buying trip there? Or cupped out a representative sample? Very curious...
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Postby jmc on Wed Sep 19, 2007 7:27 am

I haven't cupped any Haitain coffee but I've tasted it a few times, we had one a few years ago. When it was good, it was very creamy and soft, it reminded me of what little Hawaiian coffee I've tasted. Haiti could use a development project but I wouldn't hold your breath - the country is a mess and although they may have some of the right conditions to grow nice coffee the infrastructure is in shambles....
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Postby Sean Starke on Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:00 am

It's been a few years since I've cupped any Haitians. Good body, medium acidity coffees that have a big screen size and a very flat bean, iirc.

The problem as has been noted is the non-existent infrastructure and the very existent counter-party risk.
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Postby phaelon56 on Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:21 pm

As far as I know the limited amount of better quality coffee that is currently produced there appears to be all processed or at least exported and marketed by a government supported trade group. In theory it has to meet certain quality requirements to be sold as "Haitian Bleu". Quantities are limited at present.

I think back in the late 1990's there was a Christian missionary organization with a US contact who was attempting to establish some sort of direct trade program that would benefit Haitian coffee farmers by connecting them more directly to US markets. There were some samples received from one particular woman farmer that were said to be exceptionally clean, nicely processed and free of the contaminants which were typical of other Haitian coffee at the time.

But before that program could bear fruit Aristide was ousted and things fell apart.... again.

Haitian Bleu is a washed coffee - unlike the naturals that have traditionally comprised most of that country's output. But the FACN - an organization established under the auspices of USAID - has a specific list of roaster sin each country that have multi-year contracts and are prohibited from selling the greens to other roaster - thus preventing a second tier of smaller roasters.

A pdf outlining the entire program is available here:

http://www.dai.com/pdf/developments/HaitianBleu-DAIdeasDec05.pdf

In rural areas of Haiti the traditional coffee prep method involves roasting in a skillet over an open fire until the beans are dark, smoking and beginning to exude oil. Sugar is then added and once it has caramelized and coated the beans they're pulled off, ground with mortar and pestle and steeped before serving. I'm guessing that this technique covers a multitude of sins in the beans
:wink:
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Postby Daniel Humphries on Wed Sep 19, 2007 7:53 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Jay, Sean, and Owen.

Sounds like Haiti is ripe for some development projects. That's what I was expecting to hear. But the notes on the qualities of the beans in the instances that good, clean coffee has made it to the export stage is a big help. Thanks!
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