Shade and elevation bring out distinct qualities of coffee beans grown in the Dominican Republic

Shade and elevation bring out distinct qualities of coffee beans grown in the Dominican Republic

Professor Payne (center) with students Margot Rankins-Burd and Brittney Gross, who registered people for the taste testing event.

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The location of coffee bushes grown on mountain slopes and the amount of shade they receive during the growing season create variations of taste in brewed coffee. How the beans are harvested and processed also affect its taste.

Coffee connoisseurs learned more about coffee tasting, coffee cultivars and how Lycoming College faculty and students have been helping farmers in the Dominican Republic increase production and quality during a taste-testing event on Oct. 17.

College faculty and students have been collaborating with coffee growers in the Dominican Republic for three years to help them improve the quantity and quality of their coffee and to help them ease into the global coffee market. As part of this effort, the College offers its own brand of coffees, known as Warrior Coffee.

The taste-testing event focused on the three existing Warrior Coffees, which include Warrior One, Warrior Decaf and Warrior Blue, as well as three new Warrior “microlots.” Unlike mass produced coffees, which ensure consistency of taste by blending beans grown from a number of regions, microlots showcase the unique qualities of beans grown in a specific area in a single season.

“By working directly with coffee farmers, our students learn about the very local impacts of a global product most of them drink every day,” said Caroline Payne, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at Lycoming. “These projects connect people across the food production and distribution system — farmers are no longer faceless. They’re very real people experiencing the same joys and sorrows we all do and directly affected by local and global trade practices.”

Taste testing stations were staffed by organizations that have been crucial to the success of this project including: Golden Valley Farms, Parkhurst Dining and Streeter Campus Store, ACES North America and its campus chapter LACES, and students who traveled to the Dominican Republic as part of their educational experience. Parkhurst offers Warrior Coffees during catered events to support student education.

Every May, students travel to the Dominican Republic to complete a variety of projects that improve the coffee grown in the Naranjito and Peralta regions and also help improve quality of life for farmers by working on things such as access to clean water.

“By sharing our story with others, we hope other businesses and colleges will duplicate our efforts, not just with coffee, but with any global commodity that warrants a boost to fairly balance the needs and efforts of everyone involved, producer and consumer alike,” Payne said.

Get a jump on holiday gift shopping by purchasing Warrior brand microlots, which are now available from the College bookstore, either on campus or online at http://bookstoreonline.lycoming.edu/MerchList.aspx?ID=30692. Single bags can be purchased for only $15 and gift sets of all three microlots are available for only $25. Proceeds contribute to projects helping improve farmers’ quality of life and help offset travel expenses for Lycoming College students to the Dominican Republic. Coffee from the Dominican Republic also can be purchased from Jay Ducote: www.jayducote.com.

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