I must have been crazy? Young? Foolish? to have the nerve to take my coffee, produced on a very small farm, to the world’s largest organic Marketplace – BIOFACH. Biofach 2020 (https://www.biofach.de/en) is just ending in Germany and Shutterfly reminded me with photos that 16 years ago Rowan’s Royale was there!
In 2003 I applied to an EU programme– Cariforum- for funding for improving markets and exports. I got funding to take Rowan’s Royale to All Things Organic in Austin Texas and to Biofach in Nuremberg, Germany. At All Things Organic we got named “the Cadillac of Coffees.” Well, being a Rolls Royce person myself I wanted my RR to be just as prized as the Rolls Royce.
So, on to a bigger stage. With my husband in support, many, many bags of coffee, posters, and bags of booth materials we set off. We were the sole representative of Jamaica, and indeed CARICOM.
And there we were among all the greats of the organic movement. We had a booth in one of the then 9 football-field sized exhibition halls ( there a more pavilions now). A little overwhelmed, very nervous – suppose they didn’t like out coffee. We were on the edge of the Spanish Pavilion, they had almost the whole hall and by lunchtime we knew… YES! Our coffee IS GREAT.. The Spanish served tapas every few hours. A few stallholders wandered over and tried the coffee. The word spread quickly and at each tapas break we faced what we began to call “the Armada”. Then the news spread to other pavilions and soon we had visitors from all around the world and many interested buyers.
A few photos of the booth below.
It was a wonderful and enriching experience and one that helped to seal our commitment to producing better and better quality organic coffee, spreading the word to other farmers and of course we hoped to have a Jamaica Organic Movement Booth in the next few years.
Dreams do end though.
I thought the exposure would mean sales contracts and getting the business on a sure footing. Unfortunately, coffee production in Jamaica was, and is, strictly ,indeed, over-regulated. Small producers who cannot guarantee production of at least 6,000 boxes 0f ripe cherries annually were/are deprived of the right to a licence to process and sell. A box of ripe cherries weighs over 30 lbs so you can get a sense of how impossible it would be for a small farmer on 2 hectares of land to grow the required amount of coffee to get a license.
So Rowan’s Royale R was not able to supply those interested. It has taken until 2018 for us to be able to market under the Jamaica Coffee Growers Association (JCGA) License. (JCGA represents a membership of over 5000 small producers).
Maybe it is time to visit Biofach again?