Moises Tawil is a third generation coffee trader, currently working alongside Phillip Di Bella in their International Coffee Traders project to bring great coffees to consumers. A cupping event at Where's Marcel's roastery warehouse in Sydney was an opportunity to taste some of his more recently sourced coffees and also sit in on a great talk, discussing his experiences at origin and opinions of the industry as a whole.
Arriving a little bit early saw us chatting to Where's Marcel NSW operators Anthony and Mark, while Moises (or "Moshay") seemed absorbed in his laptop. According to the others, this is normal practice, as he's busily trading coffee or monitoring prices almost all his waking hours. When he's not, it's because he's probably at origin sourcing more coffee. Once a fair crowd had arrived, Moshay presented a slideshow showcasing some amazing photos from origin and discussing a wide variety of topics. One very interesting issue he had to discuss was the ethical side of things, where a coffee label such as "fair trade" is used as a marketing tool to the advantage of businesses. Many coffee companies develop more than just a business relationship with farmers, as they build better homes, schools and general infrastructure to improve their quality of life. While he obviously pays a fair price for the high quality coffees he sources, he raised a fair point about how forcing a westernised culture in a third world country may not necessarily leave them better off. He went on to elaborate this point, saying that while many coffee producing countries have unstable governments and are deemed unsafe, this is not necessarily the case. Another passionate topic was that of 'coffee qualifications'. The main focus of this was talk about coffee Q Graders, a certification that acknowledges one's consistent ability to taste and score coffee. While they have their place in the industry, Moshay worries that people who are equally or even more experienced may be disregarded by companies simply due to a lack of official qualification. Hearing him speak with such animation on the freedom and subjectivity which surrounds coffee makes one wonder whether an overly regulated approach erodes the ethos of the industry.
Wrapping up his speech with some information on how global coffee markets work, the focus of the evening turned to the cupping. On the table were four fantastic coffees; a Tanzanian Mbeya, a Costa Rican white honey process, a natural Panama Don Pepe Geisha and a natural Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. While the Geisha was the obvious standout (and at ~$80 a kilo should be), the Tanzanian was a pleasant citrus surprise. The advantage of someone like Moshay's third generation of work in trading is the connections he has worldwide, and ability to source from unique origins such as Tanzania. Word on the street is that a Zimbabwean coffee will be hitting the grinders at Where's Marcel soon (all the coffees we cupped are currently available on rotation). We'd like to extend a huge thanks to the guys for what was a very informative and enjoyable evening.