Donor Shout Out – Round Two

Posted in coffee, coffee roasting, home roasting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by Chad

Another quick post to thank more of folks that have set up the this year’s home roasters’ auction for Coffee Kids, Bids for Coffee Kids for success.

Many thanks to Nelson Valverde of Invalsa Coffee, who donated  ten-pound lots of two different Cup of Excellence coffees and three microlots from Bolivia.  All of the Bolivian lots just arrived, and the CoE lots are from the 2009 Coe in Costa Rica and Guatemala.  All lots were vacuum packed in the country of origin.  Thank you, Invalsa!

Many thanks to Craig Holt, Karen KasKaren Kazmierczak, and the rest of the folks at Atlas Coffee Importers, who donated two separate lots to the auction: 10 lbs. of El Salvador Los Pirineos Pacamara and 15 lbs. of Brazil Samambia Peaberry Yellow Bourbon Pulp Natural.  Thank you, Atlas!

Many thanks to Connie Blumhardt, Kelly Stewert, and the rest of the folks at Roast Magazine.  Connie has contributed two one-year subscriptions to Roast, as well as two full sets of back issues.  Thank you Roast Magazine!

Many thanks to Jeff Woods, Paul Balmer, and the rest of the folks at Dillanos Coffee Roasters, who have donated another graphic design project like last year.  Last year’s winner is more than happy with the result, which you can see at the top of the page.  Dillanos’ graphic designers are wonderful to work with, and can easily translate your vision and mission into a logo that pops.  Thank you Dillanos!

Stay tuned to more shout outs to all the wonderful folks who have contribute d to this year’s auction.  Bidding on the month-long lots will be open until May 29th, and bidding on Week One lots will continue until 6:00 pm Central (US) on Saturday May 8th.  Week Two lots will open at 6:01 pm Central (US), Saturday May 8th, over at our host the Green Coffee Buying Club (free registration required).

Donor Shout Out – Coffee Importers

Posted in coffee, home roasting with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by Chad

Just a short post to thank several of the folks that have set up this year’s home roasters’ auction for Coffee Kids, Bids for Coffee Kids to succeed.

Many thanks to Andrew Miller, Anna Mrdutt, Tim O’Brien, and all the rest of the folks at Café Imports, who have donated a full 60kg bag of what I am told is one of, if not THE top Kenya AA Auction lot out of their latest container.  Kenya Their AA Auction Lot, with the following notes:

Structured, bright, key lime, chocolate, ruby red grapefruit, currant, juicy, balanced, citrus, grapefruit, stonefruit, clean, currant, raspberry, lemon.

Thank you, Café Imports!

Another round of thanks goes to Jaime Schoenhut, Richard Borg, Andrew Blyth, Camilo Yubank, and the rest of the folks at Royal Coffee New York.  These fine folks donated a full 69kg bag of El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Pulp Natural.  Cupping notes for this coffee:

Sweet start followed by creamy, milk chocolate and cherry flavors, a fully-developed body and a lemony-orange finish

Thank you, Royal Coffee NY!

The last round of thanks goes to Leah Warren and the fine folks at the Mercanta USA office in Lynnwood, Washington.  These kind folks donated a full 69kg bag of Peru Organic El Guabo.  Cupping notes:

Intense notes of molasses, a very rounded syrupy mouthfeel and sugar cane sweetness, combined with a tartaric acidity.

Thank you, Mercanta!

Stay tuned to more shout outs to all the wonderful folks who have contribute d to this year’s auction.  Bidding begins tomorrow at 6:01 pm Central (US) time, over at our host the Green Coffee Buying Club (free registration required).

Our Generous Friends

Posted in coffee, coffee cupping, coffee roasting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by Chad

As we rapidly approach the opening of this years Bids for Coffee Kids auction to benefit Coffee Kids, more and more generous friends are standing up to support our cause.

Last last night, I got a message from Nick Cho, offering to donate one or more 3-hour coffee brewing/espresso training sessions or coffee cupping/green coffee grading sessions to the auction.  After a few back and forth messages, Nick settle up on the following two donations on behalf of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, which have been added to our Month Long items:

Item M-7: 3-hour customized cupping and/or green coffee grading training with Trish Rothgeb

Item M-8: 3-hour customized training on espresso and brewing with Nick Cho

Thank you both for such a generous offer.  It’s wonderful to have you in DC!

3-hour customized cupping and/or green coffee grading training with Trish Rothgeb

Bids for Coffee Kids – Master Item List (Part One)

Posted in coffee, coffee roasting, home roasting with tags , , , , on April 26, 2010 by Chad

This years Bids for Coffee Kids auction opens up in less than a week, and we’ve assembled a huge array of items!  All proceeds go to Coffee Kids, a group that creates education, health care, micro-credit, and community-based programs for coffee farmers and their families.

There are over 60 items to choose from (month-long and 1st two weeks posted below) and they will be available at different times throughout May 2010.  Unless otherwise noted, all coffee listed is green.

Shipping for all items is paid by the donor or Auction committee sponsor, only within the continental U.S.  Should the winning bidder reside elsewhere, the Auction week host will ask the vendor if they are willing to ship internationally, with the winning bidder paying the difference between US shipping and international shipping.

The auction opens at 6:01 pm Central (US) time, Saturday, May 1.  Each week’s items close on Saturday following, at 6:00 pm Central (US) time, with the final week closing May 29.

If you’re not bidding and would like to make a donation directly to Coffee Kids, click here.

To find additional information, or to participate in the auction, please visit the Bids for Coffee Kids threads over at the Green Coffee Buying Club.   Please note that you will need to register at GCBC to view or to participate in the auction.

All Month Listing, six items open from May 1 to May 29

Item M-1 Hottop KN-8288B Coffee Roaster donated by No Quarter Coffee (Retail value $720)
Item M-2 Behmor Coffee Roaster donated by Joe Behm (Retail value $300)
15 lbs. El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Pulp Natural (RFA) donated by Royal Coffee NY (Retail value $45)
Item M-3 Gaggia Coffee espresso machine with PID ( w/OPV modification and Silvia Wand) donated by milowebailey (Retail value $400)
Item M-4 Bacchi Espresso Machine donated by Orphan Espresso (Retail value $395)
Item M-5 An invitation to the 2nd Annual Best Palate in the MidWest Cupping, BoldJava’s Home, Aug 20-21, 2010 (Retail value priceless)
Item M-6 Custom Built Stainless Steel BBQ Drum – 2 lbs. capacity donated by CoffeeRoastersClub (Retail value $221)

Week One, twelve items open from May 1 to May 8

Item 1-1 Mypressi Twist donated by Mypressi (Retail value $170)
Item 1-2 Graphic Design Project donated by Dillanos Coffee (Retail value ~$200)
Budding entreneur? Soon-to-be launched website? One graphics/logo design package, to occur in approximately a 3-week project window, by one of the finest roasters and brand consultants in the coffee industry. Check out the quality of Dillanos’s design and artistic touch at Dillanos.com.
Item 1-3 One year subscription to Roast Magazine (Retail value $30)
15 lbs. El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Pulp Natural (RFA) donated by Royal Coffee NY (Retail value $45)
Item 1-4 Roast Magazine Hard Copy Back issues (2008-2009) (Retail value $50)
15 lbs. Peru El Guabo donated by Mercanta (Retail value $40)
Item 1-5 5 lbs. Brazil 2009 Cup of Excellence #9 Fazenda Santa Helena Ii donated by GCBC member Mike (Retail value $60)
Item 1-6 15 lbs. Kenya Auction Lot donated by Café Imports (Retail value $83)
Item 1-7 10 lbs. Tanzania Peaberry Songea donated by Our Coffee Barn (Retail value $45)
Item 1-8 Hario Skerton Hand Grinder donated by GCBC member headchange4u (Retail value $40)
Item 1-9 3-cup Tokio siphon, Hario Skerton Grinder, 12oz. Roasted coffee (roaster’s choice) donated by Caffe d’Bolla (Retail alue $97)
Item 1-10 15 lbs. El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Pulp Natural (RFA) donated by Royal Coffee NY (Retail value $45)
Item 1-11 15 lbs. Peru El Guabo donated by Mercanta (Retail value $40)
Item 1-12 15 lbs. Kenya Auction Lot donated by Café Imports (Retail value $83)

Week Two, fourteen items open from May 8 to May 15

Item 2-1 Roast Magazine Hard Copy Back issues (2006-2007) (Retail value$50)
15 lbs. Peru El Guabo donated by Mercanta (Retail value $40)
Item 2-2 Roast Magazine CDROM Back Issues (2004-2005) (Retail value $50)
15 lbs. El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Pulp Natural (RFA) donated by Royal Coffee NY (Retail value $45)
Item 2-3 15 lbs. Kenya Auction Lot donated by Café Imports (Retail value $83)
Item 2-4 BUNN STX Home Brewer donated by BUNN (Retail value $150)
Item 2-5 10 lbs. El Salvador Los Pirineos Pacamara donated by Atlas (Retail value $75)
Item 2-6 Reg Barber Tamper (size selected by winner) donated by 1st in Coffee (Retail value $70)
Item 2-7 Bialetti Mukka Express, Stove Top Espresso Maker donated by Our Coffee Barn (Retail value $75)
Item 2-8 Cory rod (new in box), and five Yama siphon filters donated by GCBC member BoldJava (Retail value $23)
Item 2-9 Aeropress Coffee Maker donated by Aeropress (Retail value $25)
15 lbs. Peru El Guabo donated by Mercanta (Retail value $40)
Item 2-10 15 lbs. PNG Kimel Peaberry donated by GCBC member draagoth (Retail value $45)
Item 2-11 15 lbs. El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas Pulp Natural (RFA) donated by Royal Coffee NY (Retail value $45)
Item 2-12 15 lbs. Peru El Guabo donated by Mercanta (Retail value $40)
Item 2-13 15 lbs. Kenya Auction Lot donated by Café Imports (Retail value $83)
Item 2-14 Tambaroo French Kiss – French Press accessory donated by GCBC member peter (Retail value $15)

Los Naranjos Microlot

Posted in coffee, coffee roasting, home roasting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Chad

Yesterday, I posted about the Las Mingas relationship coffee program run by Virmax.  To summarize, the Las Mingas program differentiates small coffee lots by quality, and works to pair up buyers with individual farmers.  Virmax works with the farmers to improve their methods and quality, which gives them the ability to earn higher prices for their coffee.  For Las Mingas, Virmax separates and cups the samples, and then sends sets of approved samples to prospective buyers.  Buyers roast and cupth e samples, and arrange pricing for the approved lots based on the buyer’s cupping score.  Lots are then milled, vacuum packed, and exported to the buyer.

Our first foray into the program has given us a wonderful microlot–only about 380 lbs.–from Planadas in the Tolima region.  Luis Merchan is the farmer that produced this coffee from his farm, Los Naranjos.  Here is Luis one of his 13,000 trees on the 3 hectacre farm.

The average elevation of Los Naranjos is approximately 5,900 feet above sea level, and Luis estimates his annual production at fifty bags (70 kg net).  Some shade is provided by Guamos trees.  Coffee is washed, and naturally fermented in washing tank, then sun-dried in “heldas”, a traditional drying system built on the roofs of houses–black plastic on top of the wood, which is covered at night and during rain.

Sun-drying coffee

Now for the cup–this coffee cupped well above the other two samples, which were both excellent coffees.   The cup starts with complex fragrance and aroma, with sweet graham and floral notes and toasted grain and malt hints.  Flavors notes of graham, malt, and florals held together by caramel, honey and toffee sweetness.  Excellent interplay of the aromatic, sweet, and deeper caramel notes, held together by a Meyer lemon citric acidity (almost effervescent).  Medium weight, but rich, round and chewy body, outstanding balance (acidity–body, hot to cold), just a wonderful cup.

After I finished cupping the coffee, I sat down with the remaining liquid drained it down to the grounds.  An excellent cup from start to finish.   Soon this coffee will be enroute to home roasters across the country, and others can share this little bit of joy from Luis Merchan, in Planadas, Tolima, Colombia.

Many thanks to Luis Merchan and his family, and to Alejandro and Giancarlo at Virmax for making this possible.

Luis Merchan

Colombia Las Mingas

Posted in coffee, coffee cupping, coffee roasting with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by Chad

My journey down the rabbit hole of specialty coffee has generally followed the three questions voiced in the our vision.  Over the last year, we have attempted to connect this small operation with those working directly with farmers or cooperatives–seeking ever a direct connection and a means by which we could directly reward the farmers and producers at the front end of the coffee chain.  Many times, the efforts have proved difficult or impossible, as we rarely buy more than 5-10 bags of any particular lot.

One program that had us hooked from the start is the Las Mingas program from Virmax.  Las Mingas, loosely translated means “for the good of all”.  The program focuses on quality, and provides a transparent pricing process from farmer, exporter, importer and buyer.  Virmax works with selected farms and cups individual lot samples–samples that score above an 84 approved as individual lots and then sent off to potential buyers for evaluation.  Buyers cup the samples, and then set the price based on the buyer’s cupping score.  It’s a means for the coffee buyer to directly reward the farmer based on quality.

After reading a bit on the program from our friends at gimme! coffee, including a question and answer session with the Las Mingas program founders Alejandro Cadena and Giancarlo Ghiretti, we contacted Alejandro and through our name in the hat.  Alejandro let us know that he could find small lots that would fit our buying profile.  Last fall, Alejandro sent us three samples from the Tolima region.  All three coffees were excellent, but one stood out above the others.   We approved the sample, agreed on a price based on our cupping score-one well above the fair trade price.

Here are a few details about the farm; I’ll post more on the farm and the coffee tomorrow, along with pictures.  Here’s to what I hope is a continuing relationship, and one of first steps of our part to improve the world of coffee.

Farmer Name: Luis Merchan
Farm Name: Los Naranjos

Farm Location
Department: Tolima
Municipality: Planadas
Elevation: 1,800 m.a.s.l. (5,900 ft)

Farm Size: 3.0 hectares
Total Number of trees: 13,000
Varietals: Coffea Arabica: Caturra (60%) / Colombia (40%)
Estimated Annual Production: 50 bags (70-kg net, each)
Harvest time: April – July / November-January
Processing: Natural fermented and fully washed in tanks
Drying: Sun-dried in “heldas” (traditional drying system built on top of the roofs of houses – with a black plastic on top of the wood, which is covered at night and when raining)
Shade Type: Semi shaded with Guamos
Fertilization: Chemical

Persistance Pays

Posted in coffee, coffee roasting, home roasting with tags , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by Chad

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A few months ago, I decided to take the plunge and host a pre-auction cupping of El Salvador 2009 Cup of Excellence samples. I was hoping to become part of a buying group for the auction that followed.  The auction came and went, and maddeningly, many of us were not able to pull a group together, despite the relatively low prices for this auction (many lots priced in the $3-$4/lb. range).

Prior to the auction, I had contacted the Colleen Anunu, Director of Coffee at  gimme! coffee, a small artisan roastery serving retail, wholesale, and web customers out of NY state. We discussed possible collaboration on Cup of Excellence buying, and agreed to compare notes on the El Salvador lots.

The auction opened, and, like the Colombia auction, I could not get together a group.   Here’s a quote from one of the many emails I sent after the auction:

There I was cobbling together folks, working on getting importing support, and BAM–auction closed. I should have done what I wanted to do and just bid on a lot and let the chips fall.

Pricing for the lot I most wanted, the #19 Altamira I, ended at $3.10.

Crushed.  It mattered not that I didn’t have the cash on had for the whole lot, or that I’d only bought my first bag of coffee little more than a year ago, or that my entire customer base is a small group of home coffee roaster spread thinly around the country.  Failure does not cup well.

Fortunately, I’ve been cursed blessed with modicum of stubbornness, so I started checking the listings for the winning bidders on each lot. Lot #19 Winning bidder….T.A.N. Coffee!  I had contacted Lay Yong Tan from TAN Coffee back in April, during the Colombia auction.  I got him on the third ring, offered my congratulations on his winning bids (he won the #21 and #25 lots as well), and asked the question du joir:  Would he be willing to sell any of the Altamira?

The answer?

altamira

(photo credit: gimme! Coffee)

Nearly five months after the auction, I purchased almost half the lot of Altamira I from TAN Coffee, and immediately sent ten 34.5 kg boxes to gimme! coffee.  Less than a week later, five boxes arrived here at No Quarter Coffee, accompanied by boxes of the #21 El Salvador, La Trinidad,  and the #27 Colombia lot, La Esperanza.  The first glimpse of the coffee housed at the freight terminal brought a smile to my face that remained for days.