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.

CaffeLadro.com

@ladroroasting

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.

ZokaCoffee.com

@zokacoffee

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.

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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!

Jack

Dismas and Jack

Dismas and Jack

Costa Rica – Tarrazú Region

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

Hello, once again from Costa Rica! It’s 7:00 am, Saturday, March 1. We are in the quaint town of San Marcos, high in the mountains of the Tarrazú region, one of the most famous coffee producing regions in Central America.

Cupping at Exclusive Coffees

Cupping at Exclusive Coffees

Yesterday, we checked out of our hotel in San Jose and went straight to the lab. Exclusive Coffees has their own first class dry mill where they process and bag for many of the micro mills. Their beautiful lab is approximately 3,000 square feet. Every week, they cup and score all the lots of all the micro mills they work with (a huge task)! In addition, they host buyers like ourselves for daily cuppings.

JD (Oslo) and Jack

JD (Oslo) and Jack

When I walked in the door, I saw a good friend sitting on the reception couch. He’s from Brooklyn and my jaw hit the floor. His name is JD and he has 3 cafes and a small roaster in Brooklyn named Oslo. Small world! We laughed and reminisced for few minutes before getting to work. We cupped two tables of 15 coffees each. This was a big table and a challenge to manage. It took awhile for me to hit my stride but 30 minutes in I felt good. Three coffees on the first table stood out and six on the second. Tomorrow, we’ll bring those into another rotation to be sure they stand up. One particular coffee we loved was a Geisha varietal. Popularized about 10 years ago by the Peterson family of Bochete, Panama, it is now regarded as one of the most unique and demanding varietals. When it’s right, it’s truly amazing. The coffee we cupped was one of those. It tasted sweet, creamy, and very balanced, with notes of orange blossom and jasmine. I only had a few sips but I will remember it for a long time. Wow. Of course, it was not available for sale, only a sample. Maybe next year!

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After the cupping, we headed for Tarrazú, the most famous coffee producing region of Central America. Tarrazú has over 150 micro mills. We went directly to Don Mayo micro mill, winner 2009 and 2011 COE, as well as many other awards. They are one of the most established mills in all of Costa Rica. One of their unique approaches is picking incredibly ripe cherry–almost too ripe. This creates heavy fruit notes in their washed coffees.

Another very cool thing we saw was an extended slow drying process. They built African drying beds, then stacked them about 10 feet high. This slows the drying to 21-plus days which will extend the shelf life of the coffees. Standard centrals last approximately 5 – 6 months. With this slow drying process they expect over a year!

20140228_021825By this time, it was very late and dark. We were happy little hotel was close. A quick stop for beers, bar food, and laughs and then to bed.

One more day.

Jack

From El Salvador to Costa Rica

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

Quatro M

Quatro M friends

We woke the morning of the 26th feeling pretty darn good, considering. After breakfast and a lot of coffee, we toured Quatro M. What an amazing mill! So clean (a hallmark of quality)!SAMSUNG CSC
At the cupping table, we tasted a couple rounds from the Malacara B and Los Mercedes fincas. Producers Roberto and Rodrigo Dumont joined us. Malacara B is a very well known farm and has won the Cup of Excellence numerous times. The two tables were incredible and scored between 85 – 87. Jeff and I made a few decisions, then went off to view the farms.
We saw some new varietals and fell in love with the orange Bourbon on sight. So beautiful. I tasted the first sweet cherry and proclaimed, “I want this!” We continued on to view the housing area and clinic, which are free to all workers and families. They also have a school and a huge soccer field. This is consistent with other great farms: keep your workers happy and they return to pick the best cherry for you!
Cherries at Malacara B

Cherries at Malacara B

SAMSUNG CSCAfter a simple lunch and a ridiculously incredible view, we trekked back to the hotel. A beer with Rodrigo and Roberto helped us discuss the details. We went out to dinner at Seoul Garden, which was a nice break from rice and beans.
A 5:00 am shuttle brought us to the airport the next morning. We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 9:30 am and went straight to the hotel, already exhausted.
We hoped for a light day and jumped into a microbus to the very remote farms and mills of the Central Valley. Herbazu and Aprocetu have two incredible operations. After lunch at 4:30 pm, we drove back to San Jose. Quick clean up and calls home, then dinner. Bed at 11:00 pm. TIRED! But we’re in the home stretch.
Jack
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El Salvador, at Quatro M

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

Good morning! It’s Wednesday the 26th and Dismas and I are in El Salvador at the home of Emilio Lopez at Quatro M. It’s beautiful and we are staring at a mountain full of coffee directly across the valley. Coffee trips are cool.
Drying patio at Quatro M

Drying patio at Quatro M

Last time I wrote, we were in Nicaragua and waking up to another day of cupping and farms. On Sunday, we cupped at the Mierisch Beneficio. We went through two more tables and re-cupped everything we were interested in. Then we started making our final decisions and negotiating “the deal.” We decided on two larger lots of blender quality coffee: 30 bags of one and 40 bags of another. This is called estate coffee and it’s a step above SHG (strictly hard bean), but these coffees were all scoring 84.5-85. We also picked 5 micro lots for release as single origin: one fully washed, three pulp naturals, and one natural! We don’t usually buy a lot of naturals and pulp naturals but this year, Eleane Mierisch, who manages the dry mill, has done an incredible job.
After all this, we jumped back into the four wheel drives and spend 4 hours bouncing our kidneys to visit Finca La Escondida and San Jose. Both farms are absolutely stunning. We arrived in Matagalpa around 4:00 pm.
Parade

Parade

It happened to be the 150th anniversary of the town and there was a huge parade with hundreds and hundreds of horses dancing down the streets. Sidewalks were jammed with people partying. It went on for hours. Late dinner and all to bed.

Our plane from Nicaragua to El Salvador

Our plane from Nicaragua to El Salvador

Next morning, we were off to El Salvador. After arriving safe around 2:00 pm and meeting one more coffee friend, we jumped in the back of a Toyota Patrol . I got jammed in the way way back while Dismas got the front seat! Figures. He makes up for it by taking pictures of the trip.
We arrived at Finca Talnamica at 7:30 pm. Tita, our loving angel and caretaker,  had an amazing dinner ready for us of chicken, beans, salsa fresca, corn on the cob, and hand made tortillas. Our best meal yet! Lemongrass tea ended the evening.

We woke to a traditional breakfast. Beans, huevos, and tortillas, accompanied by 11 AeroPresses of coffees! Then we were off to Quatro M, the mill where they process wet and dry. Our good friend, Dana Foster, greeted us and we headed to the cupping lab. The first table challenged us and we spent nearly 45 minutes discerning the flavors. The most difficult cupping is when things are all very similar and these coffees all cupped between 84-85.5. Truly amazing. El Salvador has had a very rough year and production is down to 50% of normal. We’re thankful we’ll be buying coffee again here.

Mayita finds a friend

Mayita finds a friend

The next table proved just as delicious and took another 45 minutes to score. It was 2:00 pm by the time we headed up the mountain to Natamaya. Last year, Zoka raised $1200 and Ladro raised $1800 to support a small isolated community above the farm. With no running water and no electricity, life can be challenging. Mayita and her family have worked generously with the SQ foundation to build a school and medical clinic. Thanks to our generous customers, we have enough money to build a multipurpose soccer field adjacent to the school!

When we arrived, the kids were all came out of school cheering for Mayita! We presented the check to the community leader and another loud cheer made us all a bit teary. A half hour later, we were having a generous lunch of chicken and soup and discussing what we could do next year. Solar lanterns and safety fencing are possibilities, but all decisions will be made by the community.

Our hearts full, we start down the long, bumpy ride back to Quatro M. Emilio Lopez met us and we discussed the state of El Salvador Coffee. We got a lot more details about why the production is so bad this year–late rains and Roya–and we were all reminded of our luck. After dinner, we enjoyed the stars and a couple of Cervezas around a bonfire.
Jack
Mayita and Jose Louis
Mayita and Jose Louis
Tita making us breakfast

Tita making us breakfast

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Sign for the Javanica coffee

Sign for Javanica coffee