STORIES


Los Pozos: Sweetness Direct from Nicaragua

At Irving Farm, we visit a lot of farms and are always looking for new ways to make farm relationships. Our Nicaragua Los Pozos offering is a special coffee with a special story. We purchased this sweet and deep coffee through a brand new organization working to make the links between producers and coffee roasters that much more direct. Pulley Collective, a New-York-based initiative, has been working since 2012 to connect very small producers — many of whom are award winners — with international roasters through carefully curated auction systems. Through their efforts we were introduced to this beautiful example of Nicaraguan single origin coffee, a big-drinking, rustic and sweet cup, full of dried fruit and spice notes and perfect for winter drinking.

Colombia Farm Visits

 

Irving Farm green coffee buyer Dan Streetman just returned from a whirlwind trip to Colombia to visit farms and taste wonderful coffees. He visited Bogota, Garcon, Monserrate, and La Plata, cupping dozens of coffees a day in search for the right flavors — and relationships — to bring back to our roastery in New York State.

 

Day 1

Just a brief update on what is going on here in Colombia. So far the trip has been really good… we have a diverse group of folks with three coffee buyers (myself, Kaldi’s and Batdorf & Bronson), one cafe manager from Kaldi’s, two folks from Atlas, and a coffee producer from El Salvador. We’ve been having a healthy range of discussions about the biz.

Monserrate was AMAZING.  We went up to Monserrate early this morning, it is about an hour up from La Plata where we are staying even though it is only 30km. I had forgotten how rough the road is, and it was a little worrisome when we came up to a bulldozer pushing giant boulders into the road.  We waited for a bit, and he cleared it for us.  It is great to see them paving the road however, and was much improved from last year.  We started with a calibration cupping, and then had 2 rounds of actual cupping.  We saw some really nice coffees: the highest I scored was an 88.5 which was very Kenya-like…  Also some very nice classic Colombian profiles with refined acidity, and very sweet.

We also had schoolkids around the whole day while we were cupping, as we were using one of the school classrooms for our cupping lab.  There were also some kids who were enrolled in a coffee education program at their high school who came and cupped with us. The kids were very shy at first, but got super excited and began tasting the coffees with us after the last round was finished.  We ended up chatting a lot with them, and they were asking us all kinds of questions.  Where we were from, did we speak Spanish etc, etc, etc.  Then they all started asking for us to take photos with them.

After the cupping wrapped up we walked the length of the Monserrate village, and gathered a new following of 8-10 year old girls.  They were very amusing, and it helped keep the farm visits light-hearted. Having Emilio Lopez here (farmer from El Salvador) is also especially exciting, as listening to him chat with the farmers, and hearing his thoughts on the coffee production here is very enlightening.  Overall a very rewarding day.

Tomorrow we’re having breakfast at 7:30 at the local bakery Pan Superpan, whose owner today insisted on taking her photo with all of us to put on Facebook. Then we’ll head back up to Monserrate, and we have another 3 rounds of cupping.  I also am excited, as they told me I’ll get to meet Dario Anaya tomorrow, even though we can’t visit his farm, El Jigual. Alto Patico is on another ridge, and apparently very difficult to get to.

Day 2

Back in Bogota tonight, it is really nice to take a hot shower, and relax a little. Yesterday we finished the cupping.  There was an impressive lot of coffees, I scored all of the top 5 very high. We’re buying two lots from the competition, a ~115lb lot from Willer Rivera, which I scored 89.25, and a ~150lb lot from Orlando Osa.  After the cupping we had a meeting with a big group of folks from the village and explained to them how each of our companies was using the coffee and how much we had enjoyed it over the past year. It was really cool to see the community come out and be interested.

Unfortunately it rained most of the day Saturday and it prevented Dario from coming over to Monserrate from Alto Patico. Last year was our first year buying from El Jigual. I loved it’s classic Colombian structure, with flavors of fresh blackberry, wrapped in heavy chocolate body.  It is rich and robust, making it a perfect winter-spring coffee. The good news is Dario has been submitting coffee to our exporter partner here RaCafe, and we should see a sample soon. Our love for El Jigual will hopefully continue into the coming seasons!

What's on the Menu?

Good morning to everyone at the inaugural BioCities event, How Food Systems Shape Cities: Ecological and Economic Perspectives! The panel discussions at this event focus on issues affecting only more of us each day, as people across the world push further into urban environments. More than half of the human population now live in cities. We’re happy to be on today’s menu put together by our friends at Whole Foods MarketNeuman’s!

Roaster's Guild Retreat 2011

This past weekend our roaster, Clyde Miller, and I attended the SCAA’s Roaster Guild Retreat.  It is an annual gathering of roasters from all of the country to come together and collaborate, and share tips and techniques about the roasting craft.  They also had a team roasting challenge, and various educational seminars.

Dan judging the latte art throwdown

The highlights of the weekend for me (Dan Streetman) were, a group forum about “direct trade” and a presentation by a farmer from El Salvador, Emilio Lopez from Finca El Manzano.  In the direct trade discussion we had some very comprehensive hashing of what direct trade means, and how it affects different groups throughout the supply chain.  It was especially interesting to hear from Chino, an exporter from Costa Rica who put some much needed perspective into the conversation.  The conclusion of the group seemed to be that quality coffee is a bargain/undervalued and we need to find ways to increase the value equation for consumers.  When you couple this discussion with Emilio’s presentation about the economics of producing high quality coffee, it was fascinating to see the relationships.  He did a great job of illustrating the increased costs and risks of producing high quality coffee, especially when talking about experimental processing techniques.  It was also especially nice to see Peter Rodriguez from Benificio Santa Rosa in Honduras, who I met on my trip to Capucas in March.

Emilio Lopez, Producer from Finca El Manzano

Clyde had this to share:

Well I did not know what to expect. My first thoughts going into this was that I was gonna be surrounded by a bunch of coffee geeks. But instead of your typical revenge of the nerds stereo type, there was such a diverse group of people that had attended the retreat to share there knowledge and to acquire more about specialty coffee.

I myself went into this wanting to find out more about the wheels that make the coffee industry move,and I did. By attending the Manzano project it revealed to us the extent of a coffee life cycle, from crops to cup. The project instructed us on the differences between full natural, pulp natural,full washed and machine(semi) washed beans. Half of the project experience  was getting to cup the different processing methods and sharing thoughts on it with others. To me this seminar was laid out well and worth the time to attend.
Natural, Pulped Natural, Mechanically Washed, and Fully Washed Coffee

Intro to cupping and cupping for defects where also well set up classes and very informative. Instructed on the proper time between roasting and cupping, the uniformity and proper setup needed for cupping. Also provided the steps needed to acquire and log information from cupping’s. Defect cupping was, well….Baggy,unripe,fermented and notes of mold. In fact the notes of mold lingered on my lips for the remainder of the day, but was a fine tool to help me determine future aroma and flavor in future cupping’s.

The last class I attended was identifying roast defects and was the class I was waiting to take through the whole retreat. The lecture part of the course was well informative and fast paced. The next section of the course was hands on roasting to create the effect of scorching,tipping,facing,chipping,as well as underdeveloped and baking of a roast. The effects of this course have made me realize that I need to look at my roasts more frequently to make sure that I do not produce those defects and change the roast profile if I do encounter them.

Dan in the Brown shirt, and Clyde in the hat… simulating a defective roast

My overall impression on the retreat is that it was well organized and well worth the time and effort it took to get there.Thank you very much to those who worked so hard to make the 11th Roasters Guild Retreat a success.

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