STORIES


How Irving Farm Chef Danielle Dillon Is Elevating NYC Coffee Fare

by Maura Hehir, Communications Manager at Irving Farm

Chef Dani. Photo by Joshua Littlefield.

Not only is 26 year-old Danielle Dillon (formerly of La Vara, Txikito, El Quinto Pino, Tekoá, and Four & Twenty Blackbirds) revamping Irving Farm's food menu as our new Culinary Director, she’s committed to not trashing the planet in the process. Her Shakshuka on a Roll recently appeared in New York Magazine’s “8 Best Eggs on a Roll” feature, alongside sandwiches from Eggslut, Daily Provisions, and The Breslin — no small feat for a coffee shop breakfast. While she’s created a viral-sensation dish not even a year into her tenure at Irving Farm, she has also designed a menu abundant with seasonal produce, locally sourced dairy, and even honeycomb from Millerton, NY  home of our Roastery. Here we talk about her roots, what inspires her cooking, and her perspective on the current state of the food industry.

Maura: When did you first become interested in cooking?

Dani: I grew up in a very food-oriented home in the Berkshires, a community that’s really focused on local food. My grandmother always made a lot of awesome Puerto Rican food and my mom had a garden and cooked all the time. My mom also kept an extensive cookbook collection and tons of Gourmet magazines. I remember this one food column by Jane and Michael Stern in the old Gourmet that was about road food, and they would go on road trips to diners and stuff  kind of like a predecessor to Guy Fieri’s show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I convinced my mom to let me cut out these articles and paste them into a binder. I loved to see these small places all over America doing regional food.

When I was 14 I got my first restaurant job, as a busser/dishwasher at a Mexican restaurant. I would go there after school and when I finished my shift, I’d do my homework there and then my parents would pick me up. And repeat!

When you went to college, did you study culinary arts?

No. I studied visual arts and art history at Barnard. I was cooking a lot in college, though: I got a job at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a bake shop in Brooklyn owned by two sisters. Everyone who was working there was awesome. They were all baking and doing all this hard work from scratch. I loved it so much.

Was that when you decided to try to become a professional cook?

It didn’t occur to me necessarily that this would be something I would do when I graduated. I’d just always been really involved in food, so I thought, this is another thing I can do while I’m at school. I was mainly interested in working in art galleries. When I graduated, I was applying for art jobs and still picking up shifts at the pie shop. That’s when I started to work more in the kitchen.

Charred Okra salad

 

Did you start off as a pastry chef?

The whole strange story about it is that during this time, my best friend and roommate was working at a restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn that had just opened -- it was La Vara, Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s restaurant. She was working there as a server and after I finished shifts at the pie shop I would stop by there. So I got to know their staff really well, and through those connections I began working as a prep cook. I started getting call backs from the galleries to come and interview, and I was like, “nope.” I decided I was going to keep cooking, because it really appealed to me on many different levels.

Who or what inspires you as a chef?

Definitely Alex Raij and Eder Montero, because they’re incredible chefs and I spent the longest time in their kitchens. They have such a unique way of looking at food and they work hard to make sure that the ingredients they’re using is of the highest quality. They have a real integrity to the food they put out. I also really love Ashley Christensen from Poole’s Diner in North Carolina. She takes the idea of diner food and comfort food and elevates it by using unexpected ingredients and methods of preparation. On the west coast, Jessica Koslow’s Sqirl is a big inspiration, with their idea of the “one plate.” At Sqirl, you don’t order courses, you order one thing, and on that one plate you have all sorts of exciting flavors and textures -- and all the ingredients are responsibly sourced. Which is basically the model that we used when we were thinking about Irving Farm’s new menu, because our customers aren’t coming in to order multiple courses -- just one dish. And that one dish has to wow.

There’s also a book that recently came out out called Land of Fish and Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. She investigates the ingredients and methods of preparation in China by looking deeply at the history and the people. So as a chef and a cook, Fuchsia Dunlop is someone else I’m really interested in.

How did you conceptualize the new Irving Farm food program?

When I was considering dishes for the new menu, one of the main things I wanted to do was try to use inspiration from the history of the City. So, for example, we have Milk & Burnt Honey on Toast, which is a nod to the Land of Milk and Honey -- inspired by the Jewish history and community on the Lower East Side. Same with the fermented black bean chili oil (which is actually made from soybeans): Chinatown and the history of the immigrant community there influenced that. I’m always searching for ways to draw from the culture and food styles of all the people that surround us in NYC, as well as from my own family’s culinary history. My all-time favorite nostalgic meal is my grandmother’s black bean recipe: the Matos Family black beans, which made their way onto the Irving Farm menu!

The Arepa, ft. Matos Family black beans

 

Can you talk to me about presentation?

Cooking and painting overlap in ways that surprise me all the time when I think about it. I studied oil painting, which is also very process-driven and tactile and sensory. I definitely try to make my platings artful without being too fussy. Like using tiny tweezers  that’s overkill. Mostly, I think of plating as creating a method to eat the meal. When I plate, or when I’m designing platings for dishes, I think about both the beauty of the plate and the utility of it for the guest. I want to make sure that someone eating it can get a bit of everything at once. I always keep the idea of the full bite in mind.

What are your thoughts on food quality in this country?

It’s something I think about a lot. On the one hand, the current number of people who are concerned about and willing to pay for quality ingredients is unprecedented, partly because it’s so “on-trend.” On the other hand I find that people’s concerns can be exploited by businesses. There are definitely places (not ones I’ve worked in) that will say that they’re doing the right, ethical thing when they’re not and they’re actually getting their food from crappy sources.

There’s also a tendency to prioritize poor-quality ingredients that customers are accustomed to over what’s actually in season. Like: yeah, you love strawberries. But you can’t get great strawberries in New York in the winter without the quality suffering or fossil fuel waste increasing. So we need to be really conscious about sourcing foods that are in-season that will give the customer a similar satisfaction, but that won’t come with such a big impact.

This is a way of eating that our grandparents and our great-grandparents would be familiar with. Forty or fifty years ago, people knew, “I can’t get a strawberry  they’re not growing right now!” or, “I can have strawberries, but they’re the ones I preserved.” So I think it’s funny when anyone calls it “elitist” to use produce that’s in-season, when it’s incredibly populist to eat what’s growing near you.

How are you bringing this perspective to Irving Farm?

Food quality, sustainability, eliminating waste: these are all things that I’m always thinking about. We’re a big group of restaurants, so I’m trying to work on the relationships we have with farmers and vendors. We’re so good about doing that with our coffee and our coffee sourcing, and we are applying that same philosophy to our food.

As I developed the menus I left a lot of flexibility for fresh produce. So you’ll often see language like “greens” or “seasonal fruit.” And that’s not because we’re trying to be trendy, it’s because genuinely, the fruit and vegetable seasons change so quickly and we want to be able to source great produce. And we might not know what’s available until the week of.

I’m also thinking about how we can use our account power to really benefit farmers. We have eight locations in total, soon to be nine. So say, kale really exploded this year and a farm we work with has a surplus they need to unload or else the produce will go bad. How can Irving Farm help them? Can we make that into something? An oil or a sauce or a soup? That’s a long-term project and goal because that doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s something we’ll definitely be working on actively.

Shakshuka on a Roll

 

What’s your all-time favorite meal to cook?

My favorite thing to cook is anything I want to eat myself. I always look to Central America for inspiration, because they use ingredients in a really awesome, fresh way. I also love Middle Eastern and Japanese food. I hate the word “fusion,” but I’m definitely inspired by different ways people around the world cook. Especially countries that might not have a ton of resources or access to certain ingredients  I love learning about all the ways in which they are creative with flavor.

  

Quickfire Proust’s Questionnaire

What is your current state of mind? Always anxious.

What is your most treasured possession? A rice pot that belonged to my great-great grandmother.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Do it well or don’t do it at all.

What is your greatest extravagance? High-end clothes. Or expensive knives.

Which living person do you most admire? I’m gonna go with bell hooks, at the moment.

What is your motto? You get what you put into it.

 

 

Shakshuka on a Roll makes NYMag's "BEST EGGS ON A ROLL" list!

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Exciting news, folks: our original Shakshuka on a Roll was recognized by New York Magazine as one of the top eight egg sandwiches in the city! Created by executive chef Danielle Dillon and sous chef Sophia Dean, this roll is an inventive riff on the North African breakfast, normally served with runny fried eggs in a skillet. Dani and Sophia conceived of the sandwich version in an effort to combine the flavors of shakshuka and the structure of the Mexican torta. Featuring spiced tomato sauce, plenty of fresh cilantro, soft-scrambled eggs, and Bulgarian sheep's milk feta on toasted ciabatta, the Shakshuka on a Roll is a must-try.

Dani and the April 17-30 issue of New York Magazine

What the F is the Q (and how did our Roastmaster pass it on his first try?)?

Ever since the "third wave" crashed on the shores of the coffee industry at the turn of the 21st century and specialty coffee roasters proliferated around the world, the "Q" has become a common term lobbed around in conversation among coffee experts. It's short for CQI Q Arabica Course & Examination, and those who pass it earn the most prestigious credential for coffee cuppers: the Q Grader license

Developed by the Coffee Quality Institute, the Q is an eight-section coffee-grading course that ends with a 22-test exam. It's an intense, arduous week of sensory exertion, only attempted by advanced coffee professionalsLike the bar or the Certified Sommelier exam, it often inspires existential dread and sickness-inducing anxiety.  Some people practice the sensory identification test with homemade solutions for weeks prior. Some will only eat plain foods the entire week of the Q to avoid polluting their palates. There are only roughly 4000 licensed Q Graders worldwide, and not only is it extremely difficult, it's extremely rare to pass after only taking the course once. 

Specialty coffee is a young industry, so the Q certification process is still somewhat shrouded in mystery and spoken about with an air of fear and respect. Since our very own roastmaster Clyde Miller recently passed the Q on his first try, we sat down and picked his brain about it.

First, could you just talk a little bit about how you became our roastmaster?

I didn’t know anything about roasting when I started working for the company. A job opened up at the Irving Farm café in town, so I was doing sandwiches, soups, stuff like that. Then I started working at the Roastery part-time, taking care of the lawn, and I quit my construction job. That progressed into also roasting part-time, and I learned more and eventually became the full-time roaster.

How did you get interested in the science and craft of roasting?

For the first five years of working for the company, I didn’t drink coffee. Right before Dan [Streetman, Irving Farm’s green coffee buyer] was hired, in 2010, we started doing small-batch roasting and more in-depth roast profiles. And then I quit smoking and started drinking coffee. At that time, I didn’t know what cupping was—I had none of that knowledge. My version of “cupping” was brewing a pot of the profile roast and comparing it against the two or three others that I had. Everything I did was trial and error. If it worked it worked, if it didn’t it didn’t.

So you were teaching yourself?

Basically yes. I didn’t have any classes. Just trial and error, and memory.

When and how did you actually become interested in testing to become a Q grader?

This year. I thought of it as just another notch. Once the Irving Farm lab was SCAA-certified, and I knew that the Q course was coming up, I asked Dan if there was anything I needed to do to prepare and he said to take the Taster’s Pathway. So I did that.

Could you explain how the Q works?

This Q course was for Arabica coffee; they have a separate course for Robusta. It’s a couple of days of classes, with general quizzes at the end of each day, and then an exam at the end of the course. If you pass the exam, you get your license to grade coffee. The exam goes through cuppings of washed-milds, naturals, etc. and it really attunes you to what can be found in the coffee: what to look for when you cup coffee, how to spot defects, and how to use your scoresheets without being biased to certain coffees. They also teach you how to grade a 350-gram sample of green beans and pull out the defects within a short timeframe.

Did you do anything to prepare before you take the course? 

The Taster’s Pathway really helped out because the knowledge was fresh from that course. But that was it really.

How did you feel during the Q? 

I felt okay. At one point, Candice [Madison, Q Instructor & Grader] told me to calm down, but that was during the general knowledge section. Everything else was fine. I cup more coffee doing quality control than I did at the Q.

To pass, do you have to have a perfect score?

No. I don’t know if anybody’s ever gotten one! Not everybody passes it in their first week either.

Most people don’t right?

90% of people don’t.

Now that you’re a Q grader, are there certain responsibilities?

I’m just licensed to grade coffee now. I have a three-year license, and then after three years I have to do a recall. It’s not as extreme as the actual test, it’s just to make sure your senses are still on point, basically.

Why was it important for you to take and pass the Q?

It helped me out with quality control, and it taught me how to look closely at the green bean. Now I’m able to spot more defects. You don’t need to have taken the Q to do a cupping and grade coffee, but it helps. It helped me.

Did you think you were going to pass in the first week?

No!

 

Recommended Reading: A Conversation On Gender Inequality in the Coffee Industry

Liz Dean, the Director of Retail here at Irving Farm, recently participated in a meaningful conversation about gender inequality and sexism in the coffee industry along with fellow coffee professionals Becky Reeves, Ashley Rodriguez, and Jesse Raub. The full transcript of their discussion can be found here, but some highlights include:

Why fewer women hold leadership & ownership positions than men

"Open applications for every position [would ensure more diversity in leadership roles]. I see so many men be 'promoted' for jobs that have never been advertised." -Ashley

"People select for specific leadership skills. Often, stereotypically masculine leadership skills." -Liz

"It’s easier for men to get the backing, the investors, and the loans to become an owner. I’ve seen my female and male friends try to open business and it seems easier for men to be approached to start a business, when women have to work hard to prove that they can own a business." -Becky

The idea that passion is a privilege

"I just hired an amazing woman who initially turned down a job with us because she had a kid to support and couldn’t leave a stable, salaried job to work an hourly one, even though she REALLY wanted to work for a serious coffee company. Whereas I’ve had like, two young, white dudes give up their lives to move to NYC and work for us. Because they could." -Liz

How men are often taken more seriously than women

"There’s an article [about how] women talking about diversity are taken less seriously because it’s 'expected' that’s what they’ll care about." -Ashley

"My advice isn’t valid until my male coworker is like 'Yup! She’s right.'” -Becky

"Yes, when I was a manager that would happen all the time. Customers would ask me a question, then go to my white male employee and ask him the same one, and THEN be satisfied when he agreed with me." -Liz

 

Ask Your Barista: What Are You Drinking This Summer?

irvingfarm,barista,coffee,summer,drinks,nyc

♥ Find their picks here ♥


Gracie's Photo Diary: Las Capucas, Copan, Honduras

Gracie Pizzo has been with Irving Farm since her barista days in 2008, and is now the company's Creative Director.

In February, I was invited to visit the Las Capucas Co-op in Copan, Honduras — one of Irving Farm’s longest-standing relationships — to learn more about how we directly source coffee. It was my first trip to coffee's origin, and it was amazing to see the very coffee we just received at our Roastery in its earliest stages of life. I had the opportunity to meet the producers and visit the homes and farms of our Los Lirios and Platanares coffees. Our super-popular Capucas coffee is a blend of coffees from multiple farmers at the co-op. Buying from Capucas supports the organization's own school and clinic, and their commitment to organic farming and sustainable community initiatives.

 

I’ll never forget this experience! Here are a few photos from the trip:

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Coffee from field to the cupping room in Copan, Honduras

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
José Francisco, aka "Pancho". Coffee Producer: Platanares

 

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Pancho's daughter, Lourdes Villeda, and her daughter.
Lourdes is a barista at Café Capucas, where they serve their own coffee.
 las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Inside Jose Luis Rivera's solar dryer.  Coffee Producer: Los Lirios
Jose Luis's daughter is pictured in front.
las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Jose Luis's house

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Exploring the Co-op

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Driving through Santa Rosa, Honduras to visit the Beneficio (mill) from which the coffee is shipped 

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Cupping at the Beneficio Santa Rosa, Honduras

 las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

Coffee waiting to be milled and shipped. Pictured: Dan Streetman, our green coffee buyer, with Omar Rodriguez, manager of Las Capucas

- -

photos by Gracie Pizzo (pictured second from left)

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

 2016

 

 



In Conversation: The Coffeewoman

Teresa von Fuchs, our Director of Wholesale and all-around awesome coffee ambassador, takes the reins of the Irving Farm blog to talk about her experience at #thecoffeewoman, a first of its kind conversation about women, sexism, harassment, and gender roles in our growing industry. Watch the video below, read what Teresa has to say, and continue the conversation yourselves!

 I had the honor of participating in the first ever #thecoffeewoman event in Kansas City as part of the US Coffee Championship qualifying event this February. The idea, as event creator Laila Ghambari Willbur explained it to Sprudge, was to “unify women. To encourage them to find and strengthen their voices.” No small order.

I sat on the Professional panel with a strong group of women from different professional and personal backgrounds. (You can watch that panel and the following one about competitions in the video linked above.) We talked about everything from taking risks professionally to dealing with sexual harassment.

Overall the evening was thoughtful and fostered very serious and meaningful conversations between the folks that came, as well as after the actual event in dialogues with those who couldn’t make it.

Some takeaways I’d love to share:

Most importantly, so many of the issues that we discussed on stage and later that evening are not gender-specific—though many affect women disproportionately more than men.

We are an industry of young, passionate people and young, scrappy companies. There’s not always a clear path for professional growth — organizations with recognizable corporate ladders are few and far between. When it’s unclear how to go from one role to another role, it can leave dissatisfaction among team members. As leaders in our respective organizations, it’s important to try and clearly define the qualifications and skill sets required for each role within our companies. As a small industry full of mostly small organizations, hiring practices can often feel cliquey to someone on the “outside.” I don’t have a clear way to make all hiring and promotions fair in all situations, but there’s ways leadership can work to make processes more transparent in order to not neglect the quiet, hard workers on our teams--who are most often women--who might not always put themselves in front of every opportunity.

On the topic of sexual harassment, I heard stories from men as well as women about being made to feel uncomfortable in workplace situations and at coffee-related events. There is no excuse for harassment in any setting, period. What struck me was how often the people who felt uncomfortable didn’t even feel confident in asserting that they were harassed. Again, as an industry full of young, passionate people, how can we support each other to make sure harassment isn’t going on around us unnoticed? I kept thinking about a sexual assault PSA campaign I caught on TV sometime last year, similar to this one here. It highlighted the role bystanders can play in preventing assault, and reminded us all that the responsibility is shared by the community.

thecoffeewoman coffeewoman irving farm coffee roasters new york city

Our community gatherings and many of our workplaces can be very casual environments, and while most of us don’t want that to change, we can and should be more aware of those around us, and how they might be feeling. We can also make sure our companies have clear and specific harassment policies and structures in place for reporting incidents. And as leaders, we can make sure we enforce those standards equally so that men and women both feel comfortable reporting things that make them uncomfortable. I think as an industry, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and caring. So let’s make sure we’re putting that into effect everywhere we can.

So many of the conversations I had after our panel got me thinking that we don’t have very many avenues for general professional development as an industry. Sure we have conferences, competitions, community meet-ups, and educational opportunities around coffee, but I left the #coffeewoman event realizing we could use more opportunities for conversations about what it means to work together, and to grow in our companies and as leaders.

Huge ups to Laila for taking this conversation out of the usual media—so often these debates are had on Twitter and Facebook, she pointed out—and bringing them to an in-person, face to face space for conversation and growth, both for our industry and for the women and men within it.

Stay tuned to @thecoffeewoman on Twitter for news about more events coming soon.

9 Things We Learned in Nicaragua

One of the most rewarding things about being a coffee roasting company is visiting the farms we work directly with to purchase our coffees. What's even more fun? Sending city folk, like our cafe managers and head office staff, down to these farms to have their minds blown. Here are nine things about visiting coffee farms we learned in Nicaragua, the native home of our La Bendicion, La Peña, and La Pradera coffees, earlier this year.  

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

1. Your ride into the fields is a little more exciting than your usual commute into the city. "The hills of La Peña are not only one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, but they're surely not for the faint of heart. In many spots the hills are around 75 degrees steep, made even more treacherous by the constant winds and misty clouds that rush through the surrounding mountains. If you slip there's not much stopping you from a 100+ foot tumble to the bottom." — Josh Littlefield, Director of Education.

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares   

2. Picking coffee is a LOT harder than it looks. "Josh and Amarys insisted that we pick coffee, so out came the baskets. We only had about 1 hour to pick before we needed to head over to the wet mill to watch the processing. The trees were quite difficult to pick as you had to wander in search of ripe cherry, and even then you may only find a handful of beans to pick from one tree. We were only able to pick about 30 lbs between the 3 of us." — Dan Streetman, Green Coffee Buyer.

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

3. And you have to only pick the good ones. "Being able to pick our own coffee was life changing and actually pretty difficult! It was tough trying to find the perfectly ripe and purple (like jamaica iced tea) colored cherries. We picked for an hour but didn't get too many baskets filled, maybe like 1 and 1/2 (if that)." — Amarys Serrano, Manager, Irving Farm Grand Central Terminal  

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

4. De-Pulping machines are a lot like Taylor Swift. "We visited the brand new wet mill that Luis Alberto started building in November of last year. He showed us the machinery that de-pulps the coffee. It was all pretty advanced, although the machines were just 'shaking it off'". —Amarys  

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

5. The professionals work way faster than us city folk. And they have to. "We watched as all the coffee picked by the workers today, about 1600 lbs, was sent through the wet mill. Afterwards we raced the 2 hours back to the dry mill so that we could spread out our coffee on the raised beds before it would ferment." — Dan

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

6. Coffee processing can be a Zen-like experience. "We chose to have our coffee as honey processed so we took the coffee to the raised beds and spread them out with a rake and our hands. It was so sticky, just like honey! We spread them out as much as we could and I went to work with Dan trying to take out the leftover pulp in our green coffee. It was actually kind of relaxing and I was determined to save all the beans stuck to the pulp!" —Amarys  

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

7. Nevermind.  

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

8. Being actually there really makes you appreciate something.

"Today has shown me the beginning stage of coffee productions and it has made me appreciate it so much more. These men are on a MOUNTAIN SIDE picking coffee for 8 hrs. They risk their lives all to provide us with the delicious product that many many people might  take advantage of. I will be a hawk on my staff for how much coffee they waste from now on!" — Amarys

irving farm nicaragua origin trip la pradera bendicion platanares

 

9. At the end of the day, every part of the coffee chain matters. "La Peña was the coffee I competed with for Big Eastern, so just the mention of having the chance to see this plot in person was already surreal. When we tasted the ripe yellow catuai off the branches (which are actually more orange when fully ripe) they were noticeably sweeter than the varietals we had tried previously. What was also really interesting for me is that coffee thrived in this climate. The hills are constantly cool, moist and shadowed by cloud cover. In this pretty harsh environment the trees were full, healthy and lush. So cool!" —Josh

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