Here is a link to labelled Sumatra 2011 photos.
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Here is a link to labelled Sumatra 2011 photos.
Jim just got back from a producer visit to Sumatra. The trip was part of the Farmer-to-Farmer program with USAID, and we met with the 3 producer groups we buy coffee from. We were able to have cupping sessions with each group, farmer visits, and tours of the processing and export facilities. We discussed some of the challenges that each group was facing, and planned for the upcoming year’s export season. We worked with the cuppers from each cooperative and showed them the cup profile that works best for us and how other profiles might fit into the specialty coffee market. One goal of the project is to help the cooperatives to better market their coffee, find appropriate buyers and avoid quality control issues.
It has been a difficult year for most cooperatives in Sumatra. The huge jump in coffee prices, combined with fixed price contracts (that some big buyers made them sign) caused many co-ops to lose money. When a fixed contract is made months in advance, and then the coffee NY “C” market goes up drastically, the cooperative must buy cherries from the farmers at a higher price. In some cases, this price is more than they will be able to sell the coffee for. We were happy to find that the cooperatives did not lose money on the contracts they made with us.
We left Medan at 6:30am for Takengon. After 10 hours on the road, and nearly getting washed off the side of the mountain in a construction zone, we arrived at the Hotel Renggali on Lake Tawar.
Our first meeting in Aceh was with APKO (Asociasi Petani Kopi Organik). After a cupping session at the main office, we got the opportunity to sit in on the election of their new chairman. This was a great chance for us to see, first-hand, how our producer partners’ cooperative functions. When the nominations, stump speeches and voting were finished, Darul Aman emerged as the new chairman.
We visited member farms and several collectors. The collectors process the coffee from cherries (golondong) to gabah (pergamino dried to 40%). The coffee is then sent to the export facility in Medan where it is hulled, dried, sorted, and bagged for export. Below is a picture of our coffee chain. The three people on the left are producers and members of APKO cooperative, the three people next to them are Cooperative Coffees members, and the person on the right is a cafe owner/barista from Madeleine’s in Spokane.
APKO plans to add a huller at their pulping facility so that they can process coffee all the way to asalan (green coffee, unsorted, 20% moisture). The asalan will be delivered to the export facility in Medan where it will be sorted and packed for export.
The next day, we met with ASKOGO (Asosiasi Kopi Gayo Organik) for producer visits, cupping and general meetings.
At Permata Gayo, they are beginning a program to process coffee all the way to “ready export”. This would allow the cooperative to export directly from Aceh instead of shipping the partially processed coffee to Medan to be processed for export.
We are releasing two (yes, I said two) new coffees on Monday, October 3rd. We realize that having two, brand new, DOMA releases available on the same day might be intimidating. Don’t worry, though, one sip of either of these new offerings will set your mind at ease.
Brazil Santa Izabel is a new microlot from Minas Gerais. Great for drip or single origin espresso.
Guatemala El Tambor comes from Cup of Excellence award winning Finca El Tambor.
Click on the links for more information.
Available at the roastery and online starting Monday, October 3rd.
It seems like just yesterday that the hippest hipsters in the specialty coffee world were in love with a little contraption known as the Clover. This was a big black box that made a single cup of drip coffee at a time. Oh yeah, it also cost $11,000. And did I mention that it makes a single cup of drip coffee at a time? And it requires a specially trained barista to operate it.
It supposedly was, “an innovative design that lets you discover new layers and dimensions within a coffee’s familiar aroma, flavor, body and acidity. The result is a deeper experience – one that’s carefully prepared and made to order, one cup at a time.” If you were cool, disaffected, had a coffee related tattoo(s) and served coffee out of an organic-industrial location while listening to obscure bands, you had to have one of these machines. The best-of-the-best in the industry had them and people lined up to pay $4-5 for an small cup of drip coffee from this technological miracle.
But then disaster struck…the Clover jumped the shark.
Howard Schultz (you may remember him from such hits as Starbucks) bought the company that makes the Clover in 2008. The reaction from the hipster set was immediate and extreme. It was if the lights in the bar just went on and they realized that the Clover wasn’t as sexy as they had first thought. Stumptown was one of the first to get rid of their Clover machines and others soon followed. The Clover would be relegated to the dim corners of corporate coffee’s attempts to reach out to the hipster/independent market.
If high tech wasn’t the answer, maybe low tech would be the next big thing. Pour over drip coffee soon began to creep onto the scene. It was amazing, this technique which had been around since the early 1900′s, was suddenly the newest thing out there. Now you can find all kinds of low tech, classic methods (often with very high tech (and expensive) accessories) at the most exclusive coffee bars. Each cup is prepared individually…what was old has suddenly become new.
One of these older methods of drip preparation is the Chemex. Invented in the 1940′s, it is a glass, pourover carafe which uses a filter paper and makes about 6-10 cups of coffee per batch. Great for hot or cold coffee.
Making iced coffee on the Chemex not only looks cool, it produces a shimmering, clean cup with well defined flavors, quickly and easily. Did I mention that it looks cool? Whipping this method out is sure to impress even the most jaded hipster.
This is how we do it:
Rebecca is heading over to Bellingham tomorrow to speak at the BALLE Living Economies 2011 Conference. Here’s a bit about the panel she is on.
Track: Innovative Business Models and Ownership Structures
If you are a regular visitor to our blog, you probably have read one of our tirades on the greenwashing that happens in the coffee industry. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, it means “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” I almost didn’t use this word because it is so recklessly thrown around, almost as much as “ethical”, “sustainable” and “all natural.” But when I read this definition, it so perfectly fit the practices of so many in the coffee (and many other) industry, that I had to keep it.
Caveat Emptor – What it really comes down to is that it is the consumer’s responsibility to look deeper and see if the claims of their coffee roaster are actually true. Looking at a few websites, I found a number of claims that were vague, meaningless or misleading:
Often these types of claims are made with no further information…isn’t “transparent” supposed to mean something? In many cases, no verification is possible for the consumer without a great deal of investigation. There is a simple way to look deeper with less work…look for third party certification from a reputable group.
Third party Certification
Many roasters are working hard to honestly bring you genuine certified organic, fair trade, sustainable (or whatever term is popular) coffees. Just look at their websites, talk to them, and you can see some of the exciting work they are doing. But look deeper and look/ask for third party certification. If they are telling the truth, they will be happy to share their documentation with you (like their organic certificate, certificates from fair trade organizations, SLIPS score, IMO, etc).
Organic – look for the USDA organic seal. Or the words “certified organic by…”. This guarantees that your coffee is organic. A detailed and in depth inspection has been done at both the farm and the roastery. All certified organic coffee has a paper trail that can be followed from the bag of roasted coffee you buy, all the way back to the farm (and every stop in between). Beware of roasters who claim their coffee is “organic” without the seal or the certifying body’s name…this is illegal. Certified organic handlers can be verified at the USDA’s website ( and they will be happy to show you their certificate).
Fair Trade/Sustainable/Ethical – many third party organizations verify/certify “fair trade” and “sustainable”. Lots of logos/terms are used, some mean more than others. The bottom line is…what parts of fair trade/sustainable/ethical are important to you? Pick those labels that are verifiable, and buy from companies that offer facts (documentation, not just broad claims) about exactly what these terms mean in their business and how committed they are to these principles.
Cooperative Coffees is IMO certified
Our green bean importing collective, Cooperative Coffees, has been officially certified under IMO’s Fair for Life program. The new program was founded in 2006 by the Institute for Marketecology (IMO) and the Swiss Bio-Foundation in response to the growing need for a system that included a broader range of products and operations. “Fair for Life” complements existing certifications by incorporating standards from FLO, ISEAL, Rainforest Alliance, SA 8000 (from Social Accountability International) and ILO.
One of the unique things about IMO certification is that there it uses a “rating approach” which gives us a score and allows for continued improvement. You can see our score here: FairForLife.
You can also check the document trail for our coffees, view the organic transaction certificates, the organic certificates of the farms, the prices we paid, contracts, payments to farmer groups, etc. at: fairtradeproof.org
Here’s a bit more on what the IMO certification means.
Make a Difference
Producers and Manufacturers of social and fairtrade certified products chose to make their production fair and safe for all workers and farmers. And you make a difference by buying the certified products.
Fair for Life Social & FairTrade Certification guarantees you that the products have been produced in a fair and sustainable way:
Fair Trade & Social Development
All certified companies must comply with a comprehensive set of environmental criteria.
Traceability and Transparency
Certified products are fully traceable at all stages.
Roots CSA is having their annual Yard Sale Fundraiser this Saturday. Click the link below for more information and a list of items that will be for sale.
Stop by and get a free cup of DOMA Coffee.
Saturday, June 11. 6039 N. Davenport, Dalton Gardens
DOMA Coffee Roasting Company
Gold ADDY® Award and Best of Division and Designers Chair
Gold ADDY® Award LaBicicletta DOMA Coffee Roasting
Silver ADDY® Award Roaster Card DOMA Coffee Roasting
DOMA Coffee Roasting Company submitted three entries to the American Advertising Federation and won 5 awards
I am so happy that the advertising industry recognizes the importance of product packaging that is recycled, compostable, and letter pressed with soy based inks.
It’s what is inside that really counts, great coffee, but if we can win an award or 5 along the way we will do that too.
Thank you so much to the creative minds who work with us; Chris Dreyer of Dreyer Press for his creative illustration and printing talent and Shelly Croswhite of Crowberry Co, for her creative graphic design. It is exciting work that we love to do and we could not have accomplished this with out you. Kudos to you both.