September News from Caffe Ladro

The women who run the Ortiz farm together

Granitas de Altura del Ortiz

Country: Costa Rica
Region: Dota Valley – Tarrazu
Elevation: 1900m
Taste Notes: Honey Dew, Golden Raisin, and Melted Butter

Curently 70% of our menu is Direct Trade coffee, sourced from our multiple trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.

One of the sisters who runs Ortiz

It’s incredibly rewarding to experience the whole coffee journey: from picking all the way to arrival in our warehouse in burlap bags with a big Ladro logo! We take this relationship seriously and are like proud parents when new coffees arrive.

Dismas and I traveled to Costa Rica last March and tasted some amazing coffees. One special coffee we chose was from the daughters of Omar Calderon. They started and currently operate Beneficio Granitas de Altura del Ortiz. Their family has won the Cup of Excellence competition in the past and we were excited to have the opportunity to try their coffee. The daughters manage all One of the sisters who runs Ortizaspects of Beneficio and their attention to detail stands out in the cup. Dismas and I tasted over one hundred coffees on our trip and this was one of the best. We hope you enjoy this remarkable coffee.
– Jack

 Need coffee? Purchase our Granitas de Altura del Ortiz!

New Signature Drinks on our menu!


Shakerato: lungo espresso shot combined with lots of ice and a teaspoon of raw Turbinado sugar shaken together violently and strained into a small glass. This traditional Italian beverage is lightly sweet and frothy.


Gibraltar: a perfectly extracted 19g shot of espresso combined with 2oz of lightly steamed whole milk. Named after the glass it’s served in, this little beverage is basically a bridge between the macchiato and cappuccino.


Cold Brew Cooler: cold brew cut with sparkling water and poured over ice. Surprisingly different and refreshing, it’s perfect for a hot day!

Robin Williams: A Story Never ToldGMVwilliams - sm
by Dismas Smith, Head Roaster of Caffe Ladro

It was the day after the First Canadian Barista Championships, which I had judged. During the weekend I was introduced to Sammy Piccolo, who won the competition. The next morning many of us had gathered for coffee at Cafe Artigiano, the cafe owned by Sammy and his brother Vince. I was sitting with my back to the bar area and Sammy was sitting four or five people down from me. At some point Sammy says in a loud whisper “Dismas! Don’t look now…”

Read the story here.



photo 5We’re holding an Instagram photo contest during May. Beginning May 12th, each Monday we will pick our favorite Instagram photo from a fan enjoying a Caffe Ladro coffee out and about in Seattle and beyond. Each weekly winner will receive a $20 gift card good at any of our 14 locations and on our online store.

How to Enter:
Follow us @ladroroasting
Take a pic including the Ladro logo
Post your pic with #theMangoCup

Happy shooting!

photo 3

THE FINE PRINT: Submissions must include the Ladro logo somewhere in the picture. Winners will be contacted via @ladrorasting Instagram account. Out of area winners may opt to have a 12oz bag of coffee mailed to them. Winners MUST reside within the United States. Ladro reserves the right to use submitted photos. Contest EXTENDED, now ending July 14.

SCAA 2014

Green Coffee

Come say hello to us at SCAA this weekend!

Friday, April 25th

11am – 1pm: Blossom Brewer (12083)

2pm – 4pm: AlphaDominche (14126)

3pm – 5:30pm: UNIC Espresso (12083)

Saturday, April 26th

11am – 1pm: Bonavita Coffee (11041)

2:30pm – 4:30pm: Baratza (10041)

Sunday, April 27th

12:30pm – 2pm: Marco Brew Bar

1pm – 3pm: Synesso (6005)

2pm – 4pm: La Marzocco/Esp. Parts (10034)

Ethiopia Hama

Region: Kochere District, Ethiopia
Elevation: 1600 – 2500m
Varietal: Indigenous Heirloom
Taste Notes: Lemon, Hops, Milk Chocolate

Ethiopia Hama Cooperative map

What’s special about Fair Trade Organic Ethiopia Hama?

Ethiopia Hama cherries are fully washed to remove the fruit from the seeds, which are then dried on raised beds. This produces consistently high quality, delicious coffee with flavors of crisp lemon, hops, and milk chocolate.

Raised drying beds

Raised drying beds

Like wine, coffee has varietals. Coffee is indigenous to the Horn of Africa and many uncategorized heirloom varietals have grown wild in Ethiopia for thousands of years. A sip of this coffee is a sip of history.

Established in 1975, the Hama Cooperative comprises over 1,500 members who work together tirelessly to increase their coffee quality. They make group decisions about farm structure, equipment purchases, and tree maintenance, while upholding both fair trade and organic certifications.

Good Food Awards

We’re proud that this year’s Good Food Awards chose our roast of the Ethiopia Hama as a finalist! It’s our delight to share it with you.


Photos courtesy of Royal Coffee

A New Way to Decaf: Colombia Los Idolos

Los Idolos cherries, before processing

Los Idolos cherries, before processing

Region: Huila, Colombia
Elevation: 1600 – 1900m
Varietal: Caturra, Typica
Taste Notes: Honey, Mango

Many people complain that decaf coffee never tastes as good as caffeinated coffee. The highest praise a decaf coffee often receives is that it tastes like regular coffee!

What’s different about Decaf Colombia Los Idolos?

We select high quality coffee that tastes great from the start. In the Colombian village of San Agustin, sixty-four small coffee growers gathered together with the goal of producing high-quality coffee. Los Cauchos became a Fair Trade Certified cooperative in 2006 and they continue to improve their process and coffee each year. The excellent quality of Los Idolos is evidence of their passion.

Hand sorting parchment before delivering

Hand sorting parchment before delivering

The flavor of Los Idolos is preserved through meticulous care during the decaffeination process. We expertly roast in small batches to preserve the freshness and flavor of the coffee.

Our Decaf Colombia Los Idolos is great coffee!

Try it now at any of our locations or order from our online store.

Seattle Coffee Companies Give Back

Direct Trade Roasters Partner to Improve El Salvador Community

Seattle, WA — March 11, 2014 — On their recent coffee buying trip, the owners of Caffe Ladro and Zoka Coffee Company delivered a check for $3,000 to the school in Canton Ojo de Agua, El Salvador to build a much-needed soccer field.  The idea originated when Jack Kelly and Jeff Babcock visited the region a year ago to taste coffees and trade directly with local farmers.  The donation solidified what will be a long association between these Seattle roasters and this community in one of El Salvador’s best coffee growing regions.

Kelly and Babcock donating $3,000 to school in El Salvador with the students, teacher and Mayita Mendez of Finca Talnamica.

Kelly and Babcock donating $3,000 to school in El Salvador with the students, teacher and Mayita Mendez of Finca Talnamica.

Jack Kelly of Caffe Ladro and Jeff Babcock of Zoka Coffee feel responsible to support the communities that farm the coffees they buy.  “When we visit farms, and stay with the owners and workers, we develop lasting friendships with the people who grow our coffee.  The experience is powerful,” explained Kelly.  Last spring, when they first sold the Natamaya coffee to Seattle customers, the owners agreed to donate a portion of the sales to aide a school associated with that farm.

NatamayaMeeting the children, visiting their one-room schoolhouse and talking with their teacher deeply moved the owners.  “Our hearts are full,” wrote Kelly.  “This is why Zoka and Caffe Ladro practice Family Direct Trade coffee buying—to help farmers improve their communities,” said Babcock.  During the donation celebration, Kelly and Babcock discussed providing school security fencing or solar lanterns for the electricity-free village.  The community will make the final decision, and the people are grateful for ongoing support.

Jack Kelly and Nena Mendez, the Matriarch of the farm talking with villagers.

Jack Kelly and Nena Mendez, the Matriarch of the farm talking with villagers.

Coffee farmers in El Salvador face another hardship.  Coffee production fell 50% this year due to late rains and a damaging outbreak of Roya (a fungus that causes coffee rust, destroying the season’s harvest on affected trees).  Caffe Ladro and Zoka bought coffee from Finca Talnamica that will help offset the effects the fungus had on El Salvador’s harvest.  Because of the relationships Kelly and Babcock formed with the people of Finca Talnamica, life in one remote village is improving and Caffe Ladro’s and Zoka Coffee’s customers will enjoy the amazing Natamaya coffee again this spring.

For more information about the donation trip and Direct Trade coffee buying, see the story.

Caffe Ladro is a coffee roaster with 14 neighborhood cafes in the Seattle area also serving wholesale and online customers.  Founded in 1994 and dedicated to profound service, Caffe Ladro provides scratch-baked goods and thoughtfully sourced coffee.


Zoka Coffee’s three cafes are mainstays of their Seattle and Kirkland neighborhoods.  Pioneering Family Direct Trade Coffee for nearly two decades, Zoka is proud to offer its coffee to its local cafés, wholesale and online customers.


Last Day – Costa Rica and Home

Jack and Dismas are on a 10-day coffee buying trip to Central America. These are notes from their journey.

Our last day in Costa Rica, we felt the effects of the long days but were excited about making our final day a great one.


We woke to a beautiful clear day with rich blue skies. On the way to breakfast, we saw a shimmering swimming pool, completely unnoticed when we arrived late the night before. A swim under those panoramic views would have been the perfect start to this day, but our guide, Francisco, hurried us along.

We spent the next couple hours driving to Santa Rosa 1900, a mill and farm perched precariously on steep side slopes 1900 meters above sea level. We anticipated the quality would be great. Efrain Naranjo bought this farm 10 years ago when others proclaimed it unfit for a coffee. Now his son helps manage and his daughter tends the drying beds. With the help of Francisco Mena and Exclusive Coffees, they have been selling to specialty for 5 years. This is a great success story of specialty coffee and Costa Rica! This farm was truly a dream. The views were astonishing and the picked cherries were so sweet and ripe they tasted like candy.

Omar Calderon's daughters help manage the farm

Omar Calderon’s daughters help manage the farm

We drove on to Beneficio Los Angeles. This is owned and operated by Omar Calderon. He wanted to improve his living and give his children more opportunity, so with lots of hard work and sweat they built their own mill. In 2011, it paid off when he won the Cup of Excellence. They used some of that money to build another mill, Beneficio Granitos de Altura del Ortiz.

After a 3:00 pm lunch of amazing barbecue pork and plantains, we headed back down to San Jose for more cuppings and our final decisions. We cupped 3 tables, one hour per table, and made our selections. Our celebration dinner with Francisco Mena was an amazing meal, with discussion of Costa Rica and Exclusive Coffees’ future. The next day, we were back home in Seattle.

Cupping at Exclusive Coffees

We’re thrilled to have chosen a Costa Rican Coffee from the Coop Aprocetu, micro lots from Beneficio Granitos de Altura del Ortiz, and some impeccable coffee from COE winner, the legendary Don Mayo.

While Costa Rica has the strongest economy and highest standard of living in Central America, coffee production is down from over 4 million bags to 1.5 million bags. Pressure from encroaching development and diseases has put huge pressure on the small farm. With a 97 percent literacy rate and subsidized college, the youth are not choosing to work in coffee. Thanks in large part to Francisco Mena and Exclusive Coffees, the micro-mill is providing new opportunities. In many of these micro-mills, the sons and daughters are now excited, passionate, and staying to run the family farms. Many are returning after college to bring new ideas to the coffee business. I’m proud of Caffe Ladro’s role in this process. With specialty coffee and roasters seeking these amazing coffees, the future of the small coffee farm is not just hopeful, but viable.

Coffee is truly amazing.  Pura Vida!


Dismas and Jack

Dismas and Jack