Michael Sheriden, of CRS Coffeelands, just shared the story of a really awesome project spearheaded by Portland Roasting to help improve the quality of the coffee cherries being picked. The idea is a simple slap bracelet the color of a perfectly ripe cherry. Since picking coffee cherries at peak ripeness is an important part of producing better coffee (and coffee cherries on the same tree ripen at different rates), this is an ingenious device for helping farmers improve quality.
During the SCAA Strategic Leadership Summit in Seattle back in September, I noticed that Mark Stell of Portland Roasting was wearing a red plastic slap bracelet … The best 60-cent investment I have seen in coffee quality. Mark bought them and distributed them to the workers who harvest the coffee on his estate in Tanzania as a quality-control measure. The bracelet’s “Red 22″ color was carefully selected to match the red of optimally ripe cherry, so each time they reached for cherry the bracelet provided an instant quality check. I have heard of lots of worker training initiatives and color-coded quality-control cards for use in the field, but they seemed expensive and clumsy in comparison with this elegant solution. – Coffeelands.
Even more awesome than the bracelet itself is that Mark Stell, from Portland Roasting, donated 10,000 bracelets for Michael to distribute among coffee farmers in Colombia who are participating in his Borderlands Coffee Project.