Shan State Roasting Workshop Drives Myanmar’s Quality and Confidence

CQI’s Coffee Corps Volunteer Tim Heinze recently had the opportunity to teach a cupping and roasting workshop at Lilypad Coffee Co. in Pinlaung, Myanmar as a part of the Value Chains Development project, funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International.

Located in Shan State, Lily Pad is working with nine Pa-O villages on specialty coffee production for both domestic and international markets. During the 2016 harvest, this group produced 17,000 Kg of sun dried cherries and are expecting to see their production grown in the next few years. For years the Pa-O people and their coffee have been hidden in the mountains of Southern Shan State, Myanmar, with family farms growing coffee at at 4,700 feet.

This workshop , the first of its kind in this remote corner of Shan State, reached 29 people from the local communities, roasting businesses, and Lilypad staff. It focused on the basics of coffee cupping and specialty coffee standards, the principles of sample roasting, production roasting and quality control parameters, and how to develop a roast profile for the local market. Over ¾ of the participants had never cupped coffee before this opportunity.

The workshop started with an introduction to cupping then proceeded to cupping different roast profiles. The lessons from the workshop were on understanding green bean defects, proper roasting technique, sample roasting and cupping. The hands-on training each day made the biggest impact: each student was able to use the roaster for two to three batches themselves.

There was a lot to learn, and while most of the students had very little experience, this week-long workshop sharpened skills beyond expectations. One participant told Heinze, “Everything about roasting I had been doing previously was wrong. Now I am equipped to roast my own coffee at a high quality and sell. I’m excited to return and begin practicing.” This sentiment was shared by many other participants as well.

During the cupping training, a male Lilypad staff member, who had never cupped before, shouted out “TOMATO” as one of the flavor notes in the Kenyan AA coffee. Heinz states, “It was awesome! He absolutely nailed the flavor profile.”

The outcome of this workshop is to empower local individuals by giving them new skills and to grow the domestic coffee industry, providing another stream of revenue for farmers, and in turn, creating jobs. Heinze left the week confident, “I believe anyone who came to this roasting training is now equipped with the skills to begin roasting their own coffee and selling within the domestic market.”

Myanmar continues to impress us with its hard working individuals dedicated to producing quality differentiated coffees - from immaculate harvest and post-harvest processes to a willingness to master cupping, roasting and designing products for a domestic market - Shan State communities are working hard to produce high quality coffees to benefit community growth and development. For more information about CQI’s work in Myanmar, click here.

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