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The new harvest season is here! Mountain men, are you ready?


When I was on my annual leave, I saw pictures from my Pu’er friends on social media featuring the beginning of harvest season at the processing plant. I certainly did not expect to feel this excited about it!

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Yes, the new harvest season has begun!

In the past two years, more and more coffee companies and enthusiasts have started paying attention to Yunnan coffee. We see farms collaborating with the company, individuals visiting the production area to learn about coffee or to hunt for beans, nearly every vendor at coffee expos are recommending Yunnan coffee, and many people are willing to pay for these coffee beans. All these aspects serve as a great motivation for staff at the front end of the coffee chain.

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During the last harvest season, I participated in the Mountain Man project initiated by Torch Coffee Company. I had the opportunity to be involved in processing fresh coffee with a bunch of passionate coffee professionals and coffee farmers. It was hard work, but more of a joyous experience. 

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It’s a once in a lifetime experience for me to get out of my comfort zone behind the bar counter. It is an open door for coffee enthusiasts to gain a deeper understanding of the coffee making process.

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To enter the production area, process batches of fresh fruit with coffee farmers, and gain firsthand information on the first batch of Yunnan coffee – it’s certainly an experience unlike any other.

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A local who had been trading Yunnan coffee for years told me, “Ever since Torch came to Pu’er two years ago, it impacted coffee farmers, became the driving force of the local industry, and brought about significant change for the better.” 

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Friends and coffee professionals told me, “Torch is helping coffee farmers and striving to improve the quality of Yunnan coffee.” Needless to say I am very pleased to hear such feedback, but at the same time, I feel more responsible towards our mission of growing together with coffee farmers in the industry!


Growing together with farmers in the industry is not an easy job, coffee processing is even harder and more complicated than I thought. 

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I were assign to station at Meng Lian last year during mountain man project, I were processing the coffee till late night, Miss Yap – the coffee farmer came to me, she tried to advise us not to work in the coffee industry, because it’s too hard! 

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The effort you put in for the whole harvest season might not even able to cover your cost. That’s the saddest part! I believe, helping farmer to grow shouldn’t be just a marketing gimmick for coffee company out there, Torch as a coffee company in the coffee origin, I believe we have the mission to constantly improve the coffee quality, by having mountain man annually, coffee farmer cupping session, to let the market recognize the value of Yunnan coffee, and payback to the upstream of the coffee chain who work really hard on it!

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Therefore, I hope that this new harvest season will be a new beginning for us, to draw on past experiences and strive to produce higher quality Yunnan coffee beans. The Mountain Man project for this new harvest season is separated into two phases. The first phase is a trial batch; we have more than 30 batches for 3D cross comparison, and will select high quality processing methods via cupping and detailed record analysis to be applied to the official production batch of the second phase.

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Let’s take a look at what we are doing with our trial batch!







Drying thickness experiment

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Apart from washing, sun-dried and honey-processed coffee beans continue to ferment on the drying bed due to the presence of pulp or mucilage. The difference in thickness will affect the degree of fermentation and the rate of drying. The coffee beans are laid out to dry in different thicknesses, and the effects are recorded after cupping.

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Picking quality experiment

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We all know that the better the quality of the fresh fruit, the better the quality of the coffee beans; but do you know how the quality of a fruit affects the quality of a cup of coffee? We used a color sorter machine to divide the same batch of fresh fruit into two batches – "first grade" and "second grade". We also kept a batch of unsorted fresh fruit to compare the interesting cupping results of these three batches.










Washed fermentation experiment

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Washed coffee has the advantage of "clean and bright acidity", while its disadvantage is "low body". Will different fermentation medium and duration enhance the advantages and avoid the disadvantages? Let’s try and we’ll see!











Yeast fermentation experiment

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During the fermentation of coffee, yeast has a significant influence on coffee flavor. In the natural yeast experiment, we allowed fresh fruit to be dried for a different number of days, resulting in different fresh fruit water content, thus controlling the bacterial action during anaerobic fermentation. We’ll let the experiment results tell us the best time for fermentation.


In addition, we also sprinkled dry yeast on the surface of lower quality second grade beans, to compare them with first grade beans without yeast. Is it possible to improve the quality of second grade beans using the artificial process of sprinkling yeast?









Fresh fruit fermentation experiment

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Harvested fresh fruit is subjected to anaerobic fermentation before conventional treatment, and compared with coffee beans that are not subjected to any fermentation. Through this experiment, we will examine how fresh fruit fermentation can affect a cup of coffee.


If you wish improve the quality of Yunnan coffee, join us today!

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What you need to know:

Despite the tougher living conditions, the mountain scenery and negative ions are worth it!

We’re looking for healthy and energetic individuals. After all, coffee processing is physical work.

Throughout the natural and artificial coffee drying processes, traceability is very, very, very important.




















































The Mountain Man project is a wonderful opportunity and platform for me to get out of my comfort zone behind the bar counter. It is an open door for coffee enthusiasts to gain a deeper understanding of the coffee making process.




















To enter the production area, process batches of fresh fruit with coffee farmers, and gain firsthand information on the first batch of Yunnan coffee – it’s certainly an experience unlike any other.




















  

Promotions and raises? As a barista, what’s the next step to your career in coffee?


Waiting for your boss to give you a raise? Wake up, baristas!

First of all, congratulations!

If you’re into the coffee industry because of passion, congratulations! As the saying goes, interest is the best teacher – a man who is fond of what he learns is more likely to achieve greater heights than one who is not. It’s a lucky thing to have your work as your passion, and you have infinite possibilities for blossoming in this industry simply because you love what you do.

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So, lucky one, we’d like to have a chat with you on how you can turn your passion into profit. Needless to say, you may have big dreams and great ambitions to achieve, perhaps even a list of goals to give it your all in the coffee industry:



Join competitions and be a champion barista;

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Open a successful café;

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Own your own coffee business and etc.

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No matter how big or small your dreams are, what’s important is to take them one step at a time. Whether you’ve just started off as a barista, or you’ve been working at the bar counter for some time and you’re looking to take on the challenge of a higher role, we have a few suggestions for you to start planning your career in the coffee industry.

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1.

Develop basic professionalism: you’re here to work, not play around!


Without a doubt, the job of a barista looks pretty cool at first glance! Stylish environments, relaxing music, fancy haircuts and tattoos, lighthearted conversations with customers… all of these sounds very appealing indeed.

As a barista, this is probably the basics of your daily routine. Putting aside what you see on the surface, let’s take a look at the core of what the job is actually about – an operator behind the coffee bar counter.


Forgive me for being blunt, but the truth is, this job is not as different from other jobs as you may think. As a barista, you are part of a team, and you are responsible towards your employer and colleagues. Thus, these are the essential professional qualities you should have:


  1. Be punctual (It’s not a joke :) )

  2. Communicate actively (This is the basis for all miracles)

  3. Work as a team, don't be the black sheep (Make your presence known within the team and you shall feel belonged)

  4. And most importantly – be humble! (" I did well today, but I'll do better tomorrow.")



Being a barista is not only the first step in your coffee career, it’s also a stepping stone towards being a true professional in the coffee industry.

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2.

Skills are important, but they’re not everything!


Imagine this – you, keeping your nose to the grindstone behind the bar counter to practice latte art daily, going the extra mile to watch online tutorials on latte art during your free time, all for the sake of creating an outstanding piece of artwork that will impress your customers and make your colleagues envious.

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This is a common example. Most baristas, especially newcomers to the industry, are often dedicated to learning a particular skill. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on improving your skills, but if you think that’s all your job concerns, you couldn’t be more wrong!


Don’t forget that you’re in the service industry. Aside from preparing beverages behind the bar counter, you’re also in charge of washing the cups, mopping the floors, cleaning the washrooms, and ensuring that every customer has a pleasant experience at the café.


So, please use the same level of attentiveness and enthusiasm you have when practicing your latte art skills, as well as an open mind and a positive attitude, to delve into every little task and responsibility of the job. Learn the little things that seem trivial, whether it’s being a master at cleaning or an expert in customer service.


Use the same degree of professionalism in perfecting every beverage, even if it’s a simple cup of Americano.

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4.

Selling is the key. Promotions and raises are not a dream!


When you have achieved the above, start thinking how you can make more money for the company. We all tend to think the same way – “As a barista, my job is to make good coffee for customers. I’m not a salesperson, what has sales got to do with my position? That’s what the manager should worry about.” If you’re still thinking that way, maybe you should change the way you think, because in the social-oriented fast retailing industry today, everyone is a salesperson!


Don’t know how to sell?

I suggest you experience it personally at the first floor of any shopping mall departmental store, where the premium makeup and skincare brands are.

The sales people there have top-notch selling skills; do observe how they use their professional knowledge to provide services, how they treat every customer seriously, and how they take every recommendation to heart, resulting in you spending without knowing until you leave the counter.

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The same methodology applies to the daily operations of a café. Gain basic financial knowledge from your head barista, procurement staff, and boss by looking into the cost of materials, rent, water, and electricity. Observe customers’ beverage preferences, habits, visiting hours, and even remember their names to increase sales and repeat sales.


Evaluate your sales at the end of each month and take the initiative to ask your supervisor or employer if there’s anything you can improve on. After a few months or a year, you might have the opportunity to negotiate with your boss.


Be sincere and let them know the efforts you have made and the results you have achieved so far. What employer would not want to retain staffs that help their business generate profits? It's a win-win situation.

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China's coffee industry is prospering, especially this year. We’ve seen more and more capital being invested, large foreign brands rushing to first tier cities, and even in smaller towns, cafés are everywhere.

If you love coffee and are keen on developing yourself in this industry, now’s your chance to improve your qualifications and become a competitive coffee professional!


All the best!