Guyana: History-rich Pomeroon coffee breaking new ground

Guyana: History-rich Pomeroon coffee breaking new ground

……  It is being heralded as the oldest coffee in the New World.

Nov 19, 2017 – Kaieteur News

Louis Holder explaining the critical functions of the computer-controlled coffee roaster.

More than two centuries later, it appears that one of Guyana’s oldest secret is on the verge of making a comeback, on a commercial scale, and it is being welcomed with open arms.

From the farms of Pomeroon, Region Two, to the Project Dawn compound, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, ‘Amy’s Pomeroon Coffee’ is breaking new ground (no pun intended).   

Packaged in tightly-controlled health conditions, the professionally done coffee is not only rivaling well-known, imported international brands for its classy aroma and taste, but slowly taking over the corporate market.

Recently, the coffee was a hit at the ‘Uncapped’ event for manufacturers, at the Sophia Exhibition Centre.

Amy’s was offering the packaged ground coffee with a small French Press (coffee maker) for $2,500. It was being snapped up.

But patrons at the event were also given a taste of the coffee, with a mocha-flavoured one also introduced.

The wide-eyed surprise in the eyes said it all. How come they did not know of this before?

According to Louis Holder, Chief Executive Officer of Amy’s Pomeroon Foods Inc. (APFI), instant coffee is not coffee.

For offices and homemakers, instant coffee is preferred where there is no coffee maker. However, the real taste comes from ground coffee. And Amy’s has it.

It appears the Holder has something going. At least one large company loves the coffee. Banks DIH has taken over the distribution, placing the coffee on supermarket shelves and in its cafeterias.

A number of hotels including Marriott and Princess Ramada, and coffee shops thought it was a no-brainer to come on board too.

According to Holder, his company has given out as part of its strategy more than 60 large coffee makers to corporate clients.

While sales are not where they should be in the G$50M-plus investment – that Holder and his partners are hoping for – there are several positive indicators two years on.

The coffee packaging is on par with international brands

The businessman came back in the late ‘90s, to follow his dream of owning a farm.

He got one in Pomeroon. His curiosity got the better of him when his friends and family kept pestering him to bring back coffee from Pomeroon.

He started doing a little digging and what he found was astounding. One of the best coffees he had ever tasted was from Pomeroon. And it had a history, a rich one to go with it.

The coffee has evolved into bigger berries that have Holder now seeking to DNA-brand it as ‘Pomeroon’ coffee.

Research revealed that coffee and Guyana have a rich history. It was introduced by the Dutch in 1721, and by 1810, British Guiana, as it was known then, was one of the largest exporters in the world – 22 million pounds.

That would be significant as Brazil, one the world’s biggest producers was a mere 12.9M pounds at the same time.

Holder boasted that coffee from British Guiana started the industry in Colombia.

However, the Arabica variety introduced in Guyana over two centuries ago struggled on the lower elevations, causing low yields and high production costs.

Farmers moved away to the more lucrative sugar crops.

However, a small group of farmers in the Pomeroon area persevered and continued to battle it out.

According to the CEO, Pomeroon remains the last bastion of coffee production in Guyana.

In 2008, the last year surveys were done, the production of coffee cherries in the Pomeroon stood at 590 metric tonnes. It is the intention of Amy’s to recapture those glory days.

What makes the coffee different, Holder says, is the method of processing.

While Guyanese would be accustomed to the traditional drying, Amy’s has opted for a more costly process – the wet method. The reason for this is simple…the traditional way compromises the taste…not something that the company is willing to give up on.

“We don’t want to compromise great taste and aroma.”

The company, at its Liliendaal facilities, has invested in a roaster with air drying and packaging machines in place. The roasting is being done under a controlled environment.

The resulting green beans from the wet process are then roasted to the required profile in the computer-controlled roaster, ground and packaged in three-layered, air-tight sachets. Its quality allows it a long shelf life.

According to Holder, contrary to some beliefs, coffee is good for increasing consumers’ lifespan. In fact, used in a responsible way, he says, it lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cancer, protects against Alzheimers, Dementia, Parkinson’s and liver problems. It is also a natural anti-oxidant.

While Amy’s is continuing its strides in breaking into new markets, it is also toying with new products, including a mocha-flavoured coffee.

The mocha comes from adding cocoa beans to the coffee – those beans are sourced from right in the Pomeroon and Hosororo, North West District.

Another product that Amy’s wants to offer is dark chocolate.

“A lot of people are becoming health conscious. We want to provide a product that helps.”

“This (coffee) is something that almost two years into launching we are excited about. It is of excellent quality, tastes great and smells great too. We are excited,” an enthusiastic Holder told Kaieteur News.

The coffee is being sold in retail 250g and 500g sachets, as well as large quantities for big customers.

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  • Denise  On November 24, 2017 at 8:38 am

    A friend brought me pack a package of this coffee from Guyana. It was a medium roast and I found it not strong enough for my taste buds. If they’re not doing so, then they need to also manufacture a dark roast as well.

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