Mojo Coffee has been buying coffee from Tanna Island, Vanuatu, for five years; it's a small coffee growing region which is incredibly important to us. We see relationships, mutual support and quality coffee development as some of the many benefits in trading with our close neighbour.
Mojo has been sourcing raw green coffee from Talao Coffee, a co-operative run in conjunction with local NGO, Nasi Tuan, since 2016. In 2019, Andrew Findlay from Tearfund NZ reached out to Mojo to see if we could do more to help.
The plan was to set up Tana Island's first roasting plant and tourist retail post for Talao Coffee. The sale of roasted coffee would allow the co-op to achieve better financial returns year round and having a finished product would help them raise their profile in Vanuatu and abroad. The ultimate goal for the community is to create a fully self-managed operation, parting from NGO assistance with all profits going back to the coffee community of around 600 families who work with Talao Coffee.
Mojo's Roastery and Dispatch Assistant, Joe Wishnowsky, travelled to Vanuatu in late 2019 to install the roaster, teach the team how use their new equipment, set up a coffee brewing station and of course, visit some of the co-op farms and farmers. He tells us about his experience on Tanna Island...
"I left Wellington in November 2019, with a suitcase full of coffee, tools and brewing equipment, heading to Vanuatu.
After arriving on the beautiful island and exploring the beach right outside my accomodation, I met up with Andrew from Tearfund for breakfast. We had a brainstorming session to plan the week ahead and decided where to install the roaster.
The Nasi Tuan community were all so enthusiastic about the new roaster and ready to help. Once installed, we dove straight in to roasting the first batch on the new machine and although it wasn't perfect, it was a pretty remarkable achievement for everyone there and in Talao Coffee’s history.
I was introduced to Chief Yaledin Seman and Chief Yaris Iataka, two of the chiefs from the Middle Bush area. This was a humbling moment as they spoke about how grateful their community is for the relationship. That afternoon, we drove through stunning scenery visiting Tanna coffee farms.
The main goal from here was to train the Talao staff to start roasting the coffee themselves. I spent the next morning teaching the team, who took to the process quickly, and shortly began roasting without me doing a thing.
Later that afternoon, I was invited to Middle Bush, where Nasi Tuan is based. We had a ceremony in the village Nakamal where Chief Yaris Iataka gave a speech and presented me with customary feathers. This was a big honour and showed me how much this community valued our partnership with them.
On my last morning of the trip, we focused on making different types of coffee and even covered the classic flat white, to great success!
I had an incredible time on Tanna Island and can't wait to see the team go from strength to strength with their coffee roasting and making. Good luck!"
This year we have bought Talao Coffee's entire crop, and it's tasting great! It will be available in all our cafes for a limited time only, starting this Monday 12th October.
For more information on Talao Coffee, check out their website here