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28 May 2019 | Sarah

Experiencing Ywar Ngan: An Origin Class

“Okay, why not?”

Three little words that can kickstart many a great adventure.

For Lin, Ken and Sellrin from the Coffee Foundations course, this was their open-minded and adventurous mindset to joining the first-ever Origins Class to Myanmar. With backgrounds ranging from supply chain logistics to managing coffeehouses, they delved into an immersive experience in Myanmar and long days saturated with coffee.


Going from reading textbooks in the academy into the farm brought the curriculum to life. “You see the farm, the cherries on the tree, and the different processing methods,” reflects Lin. She laughs and says: “Now I can understand when Shaun says honey - I used to think they actually added honey into it! Now the understanding just comes naturally when we speak, rather than trying to refer back to the text.”

It was also Ken’s first time on a coffee farm: “It was my first time seeing the red cherries and I brought some back for my friends to see. But the experience harvesting wasn’t that fun. We did it for only an hour or two, and it was tiring.” Sellrin adds: “I didn’t have any expectations, and we didn’t know we had to work! We thought it was just for a holiday. It’s quite heavy to carry the cherries we harvested.” All in all, the students harvested only 16 kg of coffee cherries - imagine the work that goes into exporting hundreds of tonnes!

The days began at 7am and ended only by 7 or 8pm. Between hours spent at the mill working the siphon tank, pulping the coffee, and especially sorting it, the other part of the program was cupping and lectures. What was the most challenging part? I ask.

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“I think sorting the red cherries for ripeness,” says Ken. In this process of “brix-ing,” one sorts the cherries on a ripeness board ranging from the brightest green to the deepest, most mature red to test sugar content. When you pick through so many cherries, “your eyes are seeing all red after 5 minutes!” says Ken. “It gets really hard to differentiate the reds.”


And what about the best part of the trip?

Lush, ripe avocado bigger than your hands!

“There was this really amazing, buttery avocado we had every day,” says Sellrin. Lucky for the students, towering avocado trees are grown to give shade to the coffee trees. Besides this, the lasting impact however is a deep appreciation for the toil that goes into our caffeine habits.


“I always knew there was a lot of work, and this made me appreciate the amount that goes into the whole supply chain. It makes me think, let’s not waste - let’s drink everything!” Lin concludes.

Sound enticing? To learn more about what the Origins Class entails and when the next one will be, keep your eyes peeled for the next post!

In Partnership with Genius Shan Highlands Coffee, Myanmar. Learn more about them.