Sprudge.com's favorite new blog is Hodi, Karibu! from Sprudgie Award winner Stephen Vick. He just reported on the first ECX DST Cupping and Auction. For those of us who have been following the evolution of Dr. Eleni's ECX direct specialty trade “second window” system since it was announced last year, Mr. Vick's report makes for an insightful and fascinating read.
One of the major protocol changes that came out of that meeting was that the the seller, upon stepping onto the trade floor, is now required to submit a sealed, confidential reserve price to the auctioneer prior to the start of the bidding session for their particular lot. While the premise of this makes total sense, there should have been a follow-up session explaining to the sellers the reality of how reasonable market prices correlate with quality. I think that a number of farmers walked into the auction expecting prices à la Cup of Excellence. The first coffee up for auction in the morning I had scored a 78; the reserve price was set at $3.50. Needless to say, the auction was pretty rough to watch first several rounds.
Folks could say (and are saying) a lot about the inaugural DST auction. It wasn’t perfect and things could be (and will be) improved for the future. However, considering that this was the first ever bidding session, things went more smoothly than I had anticipated. Simply put, coffee was sold at a fair price that, for perhaps the first time ever, was completely transparent to the farmer as he shook hands with the buyer when that closing bell rang. Contracts were signed and buyers and sellers were happy. If the coffees get successfully consolidated and to Djibouti with the proper paperwork in a timely fashion, then the first DST was a great success, regardless of how many coffees may have been sold.
If this is the first time you've encountered Ethiopia's new specialty coffee auction system, here are some must-sees and must-reads to fill you in on the ECX, Dr. Eleni, and the whole Addis Abbaba crew: