Nordic Roaster Forum 2011 Talk: Menno Simmons

Menno got a university degree in law in 1997. He worked with trade of spices/seeds/nuts untill 1999, where after he raised an organic coffee department and brought the first organic certifiers to Ethiopia. In 2003 he founded Trabocca and focussed only on Ethiopian coffees.

With in the next couple of years Trabocca implemented a project supported by the Dutch government to improve quality for Ethiopian farmers – and at the same time to increase volume. This was done by purchasing environmentally friendly pulping machines, graders, drying tables, cupping labs etc, and to invite agronomists and experts, and eventually focus on packaging and training in farm managment, banking etc.

Menno talked about his experiences (challenges) in Ethiopia and how the Ethiopian coffee world changed a couple of years ago. In the old days the farmer could sell his coffee to whom ever he wanted. If the private guys paid more, he would bring it to the private guys instead of the cooperative.

After the rules for buying and selling green coffee were changed the private miller/exporter could not own the coffee any more. The coffee has to go through the ECX warehouse, there the government cups the coffee and sets different quality levels and blends the coffees, and then it gets out on the trading floor.

“In that process we loose all traceability!” said Menno. “It’s painful!”