Relationships with producers key to Canberra’s top coffee

Posted 11 Jun 2019

Story by CBR Canberra

Following her recent win at the Australian Brewers Cup Championships, we had a chance to catch up with Yanina Farreyra, green bean buyer at Project Origin.

Yanina is the first female to take out first place at this national competition and represented Australia at the World Brewers Cup Championship ranking in the top ten in the world.

Tell us about your role as a green bean buyer.

My job consists of helping source coffees for our clients, in Australia and internationally. This means I get to taste coffees in a blind environment (without knowing which one is which) and by filling a scoresheet, we assess the qualities of a coffee from 0 to 100 score. We buy coffees 83 points and above, which represent around 1% of the coffee produced in the world! So, I’m very lucky to be in constant contact with high-quality coffees.

High scoring coffees are delicious, but not all coffees need to be close to 100 to be perfect. We celebrate the strengths of each origin and our selection depends also on what our clients like. A good coffee is not offensive, it’s balanced and presents a pleasant experience. Most people like sweetness, so it’s very important to find coffees with great sweetness.

Tell us more about Project Origin, how it started and why it’s unique.

Project Origin started because my boss Sasa [Sestic] wanted to buy high-quality coffees but wanted to make sure the premium payment went to the producer and not to unnecessary intermediaries. The company not only focuses on quality, but on long-lasting relationships with producers and the improvement of their practices to help elevate the profile of their farms.

Many people are familiar with the processes involved in creating, say, wine or beer – but not many people know exactly what goes into growing and creating coffee so that we can enjoy it every day. We are working with coffee producers around the world to make sure that we maintain and increase quality, but also ensure that the producers themselves are taken care of and paid a fair amount of money.

We are also heavily involved in the world of coffee competitions, supplying competitive baristas and brewers around the world with premium quality coffee. We use these competitions to not only help these coffee professionals, but to use them as an opportunity to showcase our experimental and innovative processing.

Explain the core values of Project Origin and how it helps communities.

The core values of Project are: quality, sustainability and community.

Quality is what we need to start with. At the moment, we don’t work with commercial-grade coffees and dedicate exclusively to speciality coffee, for example, those scoring 80 points and above. However, we are working with many farmers and producers across the world who work with lower-scoring coffees to improve their practices so that they can produce better coffee and as a result, earn more money.

Sustainability not only refers to the environmental side of our practices. It also refers to working on the pricing of these coffees to make sure they reflect a fair income for those producing them. Pricing doesn’t only get arranged based on quality, but also on the context of each origin and producer. We work closely with them and sometimes that also meant investing on the farms, which we see as a way to not only help them improve but also ensure the consistency of future coffees.

Lastly, community refers to the close relationships we forge and maintain with each of the producers we work with. We look for ways to help not only them, but to engage with the larger community as a whole. One way in which we do this is by undertaking community projects – examples of this include building a bridge in Ethiopia (currently underway), building a sanitation block and childcare facility in India (completed), helping to renovate a school in Honduras (completed) and more.

What do you love about Canberra?

Canberra is beautiful and doesn’t need to brag about it! The culture is diverse and full of interesting events and venues to visit. I love that, no matter where you are, there are wonderful views mixed with high-quality foods, wines and of course, coffee. It might not be the biggest city in the world, but for me it’s the perfect size.

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