Physical Evidence

I. PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

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Coffee is a beverage, served hot or with ice, prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. These seeds are almost always called coffee beans. Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world (measured by monetary volume), and the most consumed beverage. In total, 6.7 million tonnes of coffee were produced annually in 1998-2000, forecast to rise to 7 million tonnes annually by 2010.
There are two main species of the coffee plant, coffee Arabica being the older one. Arabica was first cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula. While more susceptible to disease, it is considered by most to taste better than the second species, Coffee canephora or Robusta, which contains about 40-50% more caffeine, can be cultivated in environments where Arabica will not thrive.

II. Quality
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FAO documentation indicates that Vietnam has a quality image problem which has resulted in shipment being rejected at ports of entry.
Many of Vietnam s coffee quality and fumigation chemicals (such as Ochratoxin-OTA) contamination problems derives from poor harvesting, processing during, storage, transport and quality assurance methods.
The main reasons of those are: poor on-farm infrastructure, adverse weather conditions during harvest period, method of ex-farm processing…

Quality improvement Incentives:
- Price incentives seemed to clearly affect quality: deliver quality will probably worse as the price increase and vice versa.
- International trader are increasingly establishing their presence in the rural producing areas. This has resulted in prompt quality assessments and has led to payouts for quality separation at point of purchase.

Quality standard:
Vietnam Robusta coffee are most commonly known by the G2-5% black and broken, with 13% moisture. Data from the largest quality control company shows that about 65 percent of the countrys production falls under this category. This particular standard can include large number of defects that would otherwise be eliminated by other grading system, but it has widely accepted as the dominant standard for many years. In Sep 2002, there has come a new Vietnamese standard TCVN 4193 as an initiative to improve and stabilize quality with new grades based on international standard.
Many international buyers express a lack of interest in Vietnam standard. For most of the coffee exported, specifications are determined by the requirements of the international buyers whose specifications are very distinct. Most claim that the Vietnamese standards are not aligned with their business needs and would add to their costs.
Many of the buyers prefer specifications levels that are below the new standards and less costly because they can use further processing to remove the worst taste characteristics of low quality coffee. US roaster reportedly prefers the lowest specification while the Southern European buyers in particular tend toward a somewhat higher standard.

III. Red Cherry to Green Bean

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What we call a coffee bean is actually the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. Coffee trees produce berries, called coffee cherries, that turn bright red when they are ripe and ready to pick. The fruit is found in clusters along the branches of the tree. The skin of a coffee cherry (the exocarp) is thick and bitter. However, the fruit beneath it (the mesocarp) is intensely sweet and has the texture of a grape. Next comes the parenchyma, a slimy, honey-like layer, which helps protect the beans. The beans themselves are covered by a parchment-like envelope called the endocarp. This protects the two, bluish-green coffee beans, which are covered by yet another membrane, called the spermoderm or silver skin.

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There is usually one coffee harvest per year. The time varies according to geographic zone, but generally, north of the Equator, harvest takes place between September and March, and south of the equator between April and May. Coffee is generally harvested by hand, either by stripping all of the cherries off the branch at one time or by selective picking. The latter is more expensive and is only used for arabica beans.

III. PACKAGING & LABELING
There are two kinds of packaging for coffee exporting out of Vietnam:
- Bulk: coffee will be stuffed in container without bag
- Bag: 60kg/bag = 132.3 lbs

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