The African Fine Coffee Association’s (AFCA) annual conference was recently held in Kenya and SCAA’s Executive Director, Ric Rhinehart, was in attendance. The AFCA is a descendant of the East African Coffee Association (EAFCA), and was born out of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project to help develop specialty coffee as a value chain in East Africa.
“Some of the best coffees in the world come from East Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania–and places that you may have had less of–Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi,” said Rhinehart.
The organization has expanded to also include South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. AFCA members include both private and public sector coffee stakeholders including producers, exporters, international importers, roasters, policy makers, transporters and trade representatives.
The African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition is Africa’s largest coffee trade platform that brings over 1000 regional and international coffee roasters, traders, producers, professionals and connoisseurs per day under one roof. This year’s theme: “Productivity–The Key to Sustainable Resurgence of the African Coffee Industry.”
The show was well-attended with around 600 delegates and 400-500 visitors to the exhibition and conference. Rhinehart had a chance to meet with some constituents–particularly the Ethiopian delegation–as well as those who are running the primary USAID project in East Africa, which will partner with the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) to have a hand in that activity.
AFCA is the organization that brought Ethiopia as the portrait country for SCAA’s 27th Annual Event, and Rhinehart attended a meeting during his trip that looked into the possibility of enlisting Burundi as the portrait country for 2019’s Event.
AFCA’s core activities include trade and market expansion as well as product and quality enhancement. The Association facilitates member attendance at premier specialty coffee events held worldwide to promote and prominently feature their finest coffees. Trade missions are organized for Association members to selected target markets to enhance market linkages and build business relations. In order to enhance market linkages through networking and building of trade relations, AFCA hosts and organizes the “African Coffee Connection” networking functions at international coffee events in coffee consuming countries. The Association is also currently in the process of researching on feasibility of hosting regional coffee auctions.
Their product and quality enhancement programs include national coffee cupping competitions, national barista championships, training workshops, and the African Taste of Harvest Competition, in which the winning coffees from each member country’s cupping competition is submitted for judging at the African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition.