Here is the information I sent out explaining the project:


Boot Coffee and the United States Agency for International Development invite you to the fourth annual Ethiopian Coffee Roundtable, February 18 - 20, in Addis Ababa.


As you are aware, there have been some very big changes in the Ethiopian coffee industry over the last 18 months. The Roundtable is an opportunity for coffee professionals from around the world to gather, take stock of the situation on the ground, and give input that will help determine the direction of Ethiopian coffee in the future.


This program is fully funded by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development's Agriculture and Trade Expansion Program (USAID - ATEP). All in-country expenses for those attending are paid. That means hotel, ground transportation, and meals. This is a perfect situation for people who have other business to do in Africa, or who plan on going to Mombasa, Kenya, for the EAFCA Conference and Exhibition, which is February 11- 13.


We've had a very positive response from the Ethiopian Coffee Roundtable in past years. Professionals from different sectors of the Ethiopian coffee industry (private exporters, millers, agronomists, government officials, etc) will be giving presentations in their area of expertise. There will also be presentations and question-and-answer periods with coffee experts from around the world. And plenty of opportunities to interact one-on-one.


CUPPING CARAVANS:


The Cupping Caravan is a one-of-a-kind coffee origin trip that we are very excited about. A select group of just 12 buyers from around the world will be traveling in small groups by 4x4 vehicle out into the coffee lands of Ethiopia to cup with the actual producers, at their mills, coopratives, and farms. This is a fantastic opportunity for buyers to get away from the export mills and into the places that are rarely seen in Ethiopia. We also intend it to be a game-changing experience for the farmers who participate, as they rarely get a chance to interact directly with the people who ultimately buy their coffee.


There are two Caravan itineraries, one in the Sidama/Yirgacheffe area from February 22-26; and one in the rugged Harar region, from March 14-20. Both are timed to coincide with the local harvest, and both will include a day of cupping with exporters in the cities in addition to days of visiting the coffee lands. All in-country costs, including transportation, hotel, and meals, are covered by USAID-ATEP and Boot Coffee. All we request from you is your presence and expertise!


We'd be honored if you could attend some or all of these activities. Please let me know if you have any questions, and what your thoughts are. I hope you had a great 2009 and that 2010 is even better.