Archive for the ‘travel’ Category
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
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.
Lake Tawar from the Hotel Renggali
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.
Former chairman Salman hands over leadership to Darul Aman (APKO)
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 Coffee Chain: Farmer, Collector, Co-op Rep, Cooperative Coffees staff, Roaster, Cafe owner/barista
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.
APKO: Today's price for Cherries (gelondong) and Gabah (pergamino @40%)
Drying area at APKO wet mill
The next day, we met with ASKOGO (Asosiasi Kopi Gayo Organik) for producer visits, cupping and general meetings.
ASKOGO Coffee Chain
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.
Pulping cherries at Permata Gayo
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
Here’s a little bit about our recent trip to Brasil. I also put up a bunch of photos on facebook. Click to see more.
We started our 10-day trip in Sao Paulo…no, wait, our flight from Chicago got cancelled, so the airline booked us into a hotel, conveniently located about 30 minutes away in one of the seedy industrial suburbs. Fortunately, Marc from Kickapoo picked us up and took us to a great sushi restaurant!
Next day…we started our 9-day trip in Sao Paulo. Jim (DOMA), Monika (Co-op Sol), Derek (Peace Coffee) and Caleb (Kickapoo Coffee). Even though we quickly left the city, it bears a few words. First of all there are over 11 million people in the city and 20 in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area. This is amazing. It is the largest city in the southern hemisphere. By comparison, the population of the state of Idaho is 1.5 million and the population of the state of Washington is 6.5 million. Even if you add them together, you still don’t have as many people as the city of Sao Paulo.
We met our guide and translator at the airport and headed straight for Alfenas. This would be our base of operations for the first few days. Coincidentally, there was a huge, week-long celebration in the town (live music and parties every night) and the annual “Festival of the Potato” festivities. Oh, yeah, Johnnie Walker is really expensive in Brasil (but available everywhere).
Driving to meet our first producer group, I began to get a real sense that coffee farming in Brasil is very different from any other country I have visited. Most coffee farms here are very big (like many thousands of bags/year). It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the neatly spaced rows of coffee go on for as far as you can see in every direction.
We first went to Machado, where they were getting ready to host the national Transfair cupping competition. Nice facility for events, really cool sample roasters, plenty of hot water and blinds that make you think you are in the Matrix.
Here we met with several producer groups we would be visiting during the trip. We wanted to get a sense of their cooperatives, their coffees and whether or not they would be a good fit for Cooperative Coffees. The first thing we saw was that there is not much organic production coming out of Brasil. The price of labor and cost of living is so high that production levels must be very high for each farm. This causes several things to happen. In Brasil, coffee is picked once a year (where most countries pick several times a season selecting red cherries only as they ripen), this means some are green, some are red, some are overripe, etc. If these are not sorted properly (on the patio or at the dry mill) the coffee will not be good quality.
The yields are lower using current organic production methods and prices for organic aren’t much higher to compensate. Most farmers have no incentive to switch to organic production. It’s clear that a good relationship is needed to get quality organic coffee year after year.
There are some farmer groups who really believe in organic production. We visited several co-ops, Coopervitae, Dos Costas (Asscostas), Poço Fundo and Coorpol. They each had some great things going in their organic programs. There is definitely some great potential in Brasil for outstanding organic coffees, but it will be a long term project for some of the groups we visited.
Poço Fundo had a great, fully plumbed, cupping table. You sit on the stool and just spin the table as you taste around.
Cupping at Poço Fundo.
visiting one of the Dos Costas organic farms with head tecnico, head of the producer family, president of Dos Costas and roaster from Idaho.
View from farm at Dos Costas.
This is a family farm. Here is the next generation of coffee producer.
Here is the next, next generation.
Still flowering here.
Derek shows how tall the coffee trees are here.
Cupping lab at Bourbon Specialty Coffees.
Cool, digital, hot water gun for cuppings
Head cupper at Coorpol (his farm produces some fantastic coffee)
Sample roasting with Flavio at the National University at Lavras. Flavio is one of the world’s foremost experts on post-harvest processing and its relationship to quality.
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
This is JJ, checking in from Coffee Fest in Seattle!
I woke up this morning to some “BadAss” Coffee from DOMA Coffee Roasting Company and headed out to Seattle for Coffee Fest feeling fantastic. Five hours on I-90 mixed with really bad fast food and even worse road coffee from Ritzville couldn’t whip me after my morning brew.
When I arrived in Seattle I headed straight to Visions on 1st Avenue. This is a must-stop for any barista serious about coffee barware and machinery. Very cool stuff. After a chat with Klif at Visions I headed over to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. There, I had an opportunity to work on the Competizione by Nuova Simonelli and the Strada by La Marzocco.
Tomorrow, I’m off to explore the trade floor and take workshops on: 3 Fatal Mistakes of a Business Start-Up, Developing a Training to Produce Exceptional Baristas, and Coffee Brewing Basics. I’ll also head out to as many coffee shops as I can hit in the vicinity of the Convention Center and my hotel. Earlier today, I attempted to experience Zeitgeist Coffee near King Street Station, but to no avail – the line was at least 20 deep and I was due at Visions. So I am looking forward to trying some of Seattle’s “best” tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
I just got back from two weeks in Nicaragua. Joe (from Third Coast) and I were there to teach two 1-week courses about coffee quality, roasting and cupping.
The first week was spent with a cooperative called PROCOCER. Denis, the head tecnico, met us at the airport, took us around for the whole week. He was a great host. PROCOCER’s offices are in Jicaro, in the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua and they represent about 800 farming families. We were there to visit the dry mill at Mozonte and while there, teach a roasting and cupping class to a group of local youth. These students are studying at the coffee school in Ocotal and most of their parents are producers from PROCOCER.
We showed them what we look for in a coffee sample, taught them how we sample roast and cup. By the end of the course, they were all roasting great samples and running a very professional cupping table.
We visited organic farms in the Murra region. A truck dropped us off, and we had to hike for a half hour just to get to the first farm. No road, no electricity but each farmer we visited was proud of their finca. One of the farmers we met is the head of a women’s producer group. Doña Dominga and her family produce about 800 pounds of coffee a year on very steep slopes in a remote valley. I was only to take one picture because I was ready to pass out from the difficult hike to her house and to see her coffee trees. She invited us to come back and work for a few weeks during the harvest. Maybe if I start training now, I might be able to keep up with her.
At the finca of Reynaldo Rivera we saw the new style wet-mill that the government is helping to fund. It uses less water so the environmental impact is significantly reduced.
Each farmer composts and uses worm bins to help enrich the soil.
Outside of Jalapa, we visited the finca of Ernesto Canales, the president of PROCOCER (whose daughter, Rosibel was in our class) and saw his wet mill and nursery. He is developing an eco-tourism project at his farm where people could come and see best practices in general farming and coffee processing.
A half an hour or so further up another 4-wheel drive road and strenuous hike (where I, again, almost had a heart attack) we arrived at the finca of Mario (the father of Dunia from our class). He has an incredible farm right along the border of Honduras. His plants are extremely healthy and he is very passionate about his finca. He has just built a new wet mill (carrying the cement up the mountain trail by himself) and a couple of cabins for his eco-tourism project.
Two small cabins (bunks for 6 in each), fresh mountain spring water and an amazing jungle valley. They have a small family cabin with a kitchen and made us a great meal. Visitors will be able to stay in the other cabins and participate in the coffee harvest, plant their own coffee trees and eventually harvest their own plants. It is an amazing spot, and if anyone is interested in visiting, e-mail me and I will give you details.
The next morning we “decided” to walk back to Jalapa …every 30 minutes, Denis would me that it was just another 30 minutes hike. Four hours later we made it to town. There we had dinner with Ernesto and Denis and talked of our future plans together.
Coming later, week 2 near Matagalpa.
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Our own Survivor (think Eye of the Tiger) was caught on camera in Hawaii. Greg was seen at Hula Daddy Kona Coffee on their live Web Cam and in the cupping room.
He got a chance to cup with roastmaster Miguel Meza and learn about Kona specialty coffee.
I’m sure he will be sad that he missed the 3 days of record low temperatures here in beautiful Idaho. Oh, well.
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Rebecca, Greg, Shaunett and Ben Tobin were in Seattle over the weekend for CoffeeFest. This annual meeting is great for checking out new products, meeting your old friends in the coffee industry and general getting-down with the hipster coffee set.
After packing their girl-pants and brushing up on their Kung Fu, the DOMA crew hit the road for Seattle. They cruised the trade show and went to a great cupping at Atlas. There would be more writing here, but no one volunteered to give me some words…so here are some photos from Ben Tobin.
Thursday, September 17th, 2009
The Patano family recently took one of the Dragonfly VW’s out for a test run in Montana. Loading up the bikes, the boys and the Janis Joplin 8-tracks, they hit the road for the woods.
Besides the fact that the van didn’t have an 8-track player (it actually has a great stereo with CD and i-Pod hookup), the reviews were thumbs-up all around. Sleeps four and comes stocked with the all essentials of a back-woods campout, these vans are very cool…bike rack, camp chairs, cook stove, cooler, awning, heater, 110V power, etc.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
What’s that I hear, Barista Jam 2009 at Vision’s in Seattle? 8 hours of cupping, roasting for single origin espresso, PID with Synesso, tearing Roburs apart, rebuilding steam-wands, tasting the difference between citrus and malic acid. latte art jam–count me in. No place to stay–no problem. The back of the DOMA mobile will be just fine. Yes, friends, the beauty you see in this photo can also be yours–all you need is a five hour drive and 7 hour sleep in the car. The good news–no taps on the window by the authorities during my sweet night’s sleep.
No one ever said that learning the the complex nuances of the bean would be easy–DOMA is not your grandparents coffee roasting company.
Running water is for sissies.
They say all hotel rooms look the same with the lights out.
The coffee enhancement lounge–Sarah rocks.
Cupping with coffee guru Chris Davidson of Atlas Coffee–seriously he knows the middle names of all the children for every farmer they buy coffee from. His coffee knowledge is out of control. We’re cupping COE’s with him in three weeks!
3 coffees: Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras and different processing methods side by side. Chris was helping us taste the difference between a natural process and washed coffee from the same growing region. In general, the natural process is more acidic with the fruit flavor being very forward. The washed is a more clean and balanced flavor with acidity toned down. Some adjectives we were tasting: granny smith apple, lime, caramel, strawberry, bakers chocolate, spice and more. This is a great way to discern how differences in processing methods impact the final taste in the cup.
Next up: Espresso roasting workshop with the crew from Victrola.
Here they have five different roast profiles of a Guatemala Huehuetenango called “Palhu.” Above the baristas are dialing in shots so we can taste the differences in flavors when the same coffee is roasted Ideal, too light, too dark, too fast, and too slow. Perry Hook explained how the bean is affected by these different profiles and the extensive process they go through to find the roast that showcases the natural flavor of the coffee the best. The differences were sometime subtle and others more pronounced: flavors ranged from being brighter and more frutiy to a bit more vegetal, savory and tasting a bit of the roast profile. Ironically, they all tasted pretty good.
We tasted all five profiles of the Guatemala as a French press as well. The coolest part was hearing about their dedication to making the coffee sing. Huge thanks to these guys for sharing their mad skills and being so friendly. We gave them some DOMA and are looking forward to their feedback.
Oh the transformation! Did this guy stay at the Four Seasons???????
Tech wizard Michael Elvin from Espresso Parts works his magic. This guy is also a rockstar barista! We tore apart grinders and steamwands. My favorite part was when he spoke about the fissures–and then demonstrated–caused by tapping the portafilter inbetween tamps. Seriously is it even up for debate up for debate anymore. Tapper’s admit your defeat and submit to Rao.
Next Cam Kellet walked us through a tasting where he put five different acids into coffee for us to taste the different types of acids found in coffee. We started with Citric–everyone puckered like crazy–and then moved to malic which was different but similar.
I’m not smart enough to read this acid–all I can say is it was more of a body mouthfeel thing than a flavor.
never has spitting been more appropriate. To simulate at home, grab some cream of tartar and put a spoonful in your coffee.
32 Barista’s jam it out for top honors on latte art. Chuck from Victrola took the honors. His pours were amazing. This was the LA verses Seattle and all was done with live video streaming. The main difference: Intelly folks were in their lab, and the Seattle baristas threw down in an actual working cafe. You be the judge.
Lastly, I had to check out the Slayer at Zoka and have some shots. A really nice barista, formerly of Wisconsin and Alterra, pulled me an outstanding S.O. Brazil. I wish I could remember her name because she was knowledgeable, friendly, and devoid of any of the pretension that can so often accompany some in our industry.
Above is a great example of how a brew bar station can be utilized in a cafe. Hot water tower, commercial grinder and multiple drippers. Very awesome.
In conclusion: some coffee events are just worth a night of sleeping in your car. Cam at Barista Guild and Sarah from Visions put on an outstanding event with amazing contributors. Our industry is better because of people like these that are willing to share their time and talents. $35 dollars? This event would cost easily a $1000 from other consultants. I forgot to take photos of the session with Mark from Synesso. He explained the technology behine and then there was a lively chat about PID and how the barista can utilize this variable to make better coffee.
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
The most popular camping vans ever manufactured are now available for rent. Go green and see the Great Northwest, Eastern Washington, North Idaho, or Western Montana in a customized Dragonflyvan™. These classic Vanagon Campers have been completely refurbished and are in top mechanical condition. Check out their website, or stop by…they are right down the street from the roastery.
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
The guys from Rapha Continental stopped by Le Petit Outre a while ago. In case you don’t know, LPO is the best bakery in our area (even though they are in Missoula, MT…3 hours away).
Check out the full post with some great photos here.